Note: This review contains spoilers from Crooked Kingdom (and Six of Crows) by Leigh Bardugo.
So…I finished Crooked Kingdom last night. *Cue flashback’s to me sobbing wildly at 2AM*.
I’m not going to lie, I did not love Crooked Kingdom as much as Six of Crows, but as I have already mentioned previously, I’m not sure that would have been possible! I did still really like the novel though, so I’m going to try and make some sense of my thoughts here. To be honest, though, I think I’m still emotionally compromised!
I’ll start with a couple of things I liked slightly less about the novel because it’s always better to get the bad news out of the way first!
One of the things I loved about Six of Crows was that even though there were obvious romantic relationships developing between different members of the crew, they never really took away from the crew dynamic. At times in Crooked Kingdom, though, I felt like there was just a little too much focus on these relationships, with characters thinking significantly more about their partner than other members of the crew. I remember a section of Six of Crows where Matthias found out Grisha were in danger and he was very clear about being worried about Nina and Jesper. Compare that with when Jesper, Kuwei and Matthias were ambushed in Black Veil and the whole time, Matthias is thinking about Nina. Don’t get me wrong, I love Matthias and his relationship with Nina, but sometimes I just missed the group focus we saw in Six of Crows.
Second, was Kaz. I know, and I’m sorry. I know a lot of people love Kaz and I don’t dislike him, I just find it really difficult to connect with him as a character. A lot of this feeds off what I said about Kaz in my Six of Crows review, namely that he is too concentrated on Inej so at times he doesn’t really seem to fit in with the rest of the crew. I can sympathise with his situation (it was really sad when he called Jesper, Jordie) and I can understand his motives, he’s just not one of my favourite characters. This is heightened as well, by the fact that I love the other members of the crew so much!
Right those are my two complaints out of the way.
So now, I might as well just get it over with and deal with the biggie (and hope I don’t cry…again).
I’m not going to lie, I was distraught last night. Like, had to take a breather and then read the end of the novel through my tears distraught. There were a few reasons for this:
- I have not read fantasy in a while, so I have not read a fantasy death for a while and I forgot just how painful they can be.
- I was not expecting it. First, because there had been a fake-out a few chapters before when we were told that Wylan revealed everything to Van Eck but it turned out it was part of the plan. When Matthias heard the shot, I hoped that it might be another bluff. Second because I feel exactly like Wylan when he says ‘we were all supposed to make it’. Same Wylan, same.
- It was Matthias. I loved Matthias. He was so unbelievably sweet, how he fought against what he had been taught and wanted to make a better world. He was strong and brave and beautiful.
- Matthias and Nina. I love Matthias and Nina, as their own characters and as a couple. How could I not with interactions like these?
You aren’t a flower, you’re every blossom in the wood blooming at once. You are a tidal wave. You’re a stampede.
“You’re better than waffles, Matthias Helvar.”
A small smile curled the Fjerdan’s lips. “Let’s not say things we don’t mean, my love.”
- The chapter from Matthias’ point of view as he dies.
Matthias was dreaming again. Dreaming of her. The storm raged around him, drowning out Nina’s voice. And yet his heart was easy. Somehow he knew that she would be safe, she would find shelter from the cold. He was on the ice once more, and somewhere he could hear the wolves howling. But this time, he knew they were welcoming him home.
Please excuse me while I go and cry in the corner.
On a happier note, I loved having Wylan chapters in Crooked Kingdom and I love Jesper and Wylan’s relationship. I will admit, for a while I was annoyed that Jesper had mistook Kuwei for Wylan because it felt too out of characters (a bit like Kaz looking at Inej at the end of Six of Crows) but by the time they had their first kiss, I couldn’t be annoyed anymore!
On the topic of Jesper and Wylan, I loved hearing more about their pasts, and seeing how, with Wylan’s help, Jesper embraced his Grisha powers. I also really liked the scene between Kaz and Jesper where Kaz (indirectly) tells Jesper that he trusts him and doesn’t want to lose him. It was a great moment for both of them.
All in all, even though Crooked Kingdom didn’t reach the lofty heights of Six of Crows it was still an enjoyable (and devastating) read, and when I finished it, I was really sad to be letting go of these characters. But, to quote the Dregs, no mourners, no funerals.
We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns – Leigh Bardugo