Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I picked this book up solely based on the hype since I’ve been so far removed from the literary world for so long (I haven’t been a very active reader since I started college about 5 years ago), and I wanted a good entrée back into the YA fantasy genre that I hold so near and dear to my heart. Boy, was this the right choice! Everyone and their brother it seems has read this book, so I have to admit I was skeptical because I tend to be overly critical of books that become that popular. I was so impressed with the character development and world-building in this book to the point that I’m awarding it my rarely-seen five star rating – AND a spot on my metaphorical favorites shelf.

Six of Crows is an arresting novel, if I’m honest – unconventional in its approach, honest in its confrontation of difficult topics, and fully belonging to the characters and the reader. This is a twisty dark clusterf*ck of plot (in the best way possible) mixed with incredible character development and a brave approach to understanding motive and the concept of bravery. I ate this book up and I’m so happy I did!

I have to admit I was a bit intimidated at first when I realized this book has not one, not two, but six POVs – I’m not usually a fan of multi-POV books, and I was really worried I was going to hate it and never get attached to any of the characters. Bardugo is smart here though (especially in her use of third person to tie everything together), and manages to give us an intimate glimpse of the motivations of each character with intricate backstory and their interactions with other characters without shutting off the other characters as the story progresses. Instead of driving them apart, it pulls them together, and feels like a completely cohesive body of work.

These characters, while I’m on the topic, are all incredibly compelling and multi-dimensional in a wonderfully imperfect way. I’m obsessed with Nina and she’s definitely my favorite character, although honestly I feel like every last one of the main six characters has a unique, interesting, and believable storyline and persona. I applaud Bardugo’s ability to create characters that feel like they’re real people – this is a masterclass on character development, y’all.

Six of Crows moves fast, and I’m still in awe of how quickly and naturally the plot spins off itself when things seem to go wrong. Kaz Brekker is a wonder in and of himself to watch, although not without his own flaws and trauma. It was quite magical to read about a trope-y invincible protagonist who is deeply human even in spite of his ability to always come out on top. After all, “a good magician isn’t much different from a proper thief.”

I would recommend this book to anyone who remotely enjoys fantasy and adventure – the writing here is superb, and it moves quickly but not so fast that it glosses over the characters or their motivations. I picked up the sequel Crooked Kingdom as soon as I finished (review coming soon!), and I will definitely be making a point to read the Shadow and Bone trilogy/King of Scars as well!

About the Book: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (2015) is a young adult fantasy adventure novel that takes place in Bardugo’s epic Grishaverse in the sprawling fictional merchant city of Ketterdam. Notorious criminal and gang leader Kaz Brekker and his assembled group of thieves and thugs are hired to perform a heist that could either kill them or grant a massive payoff and save the world in the process.

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