Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Well, I’m finished, and that was a hell of a ride. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a dark-fantasy heist novel, character-driven and full of moments of joy, sadness and pain. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while, especially in terms of pure enjoyability.

The standout character for me has to be Kaz Brekker, the leader of the six thieves and criminals that set out to rob one of the most highly guarded Courts in the world. At first glance, Kaz is the kind of character you expect to find in Dishonored, or perhaps Gangs of New York. He’s unscrupulous, manipulative and impossibly clever. However, Bardugo strips away his outer layers and his trauma with an astonishing grace, slowly inviting the reader deeper into his psyche. He’s also one of the few characters I can name with a cane and a physical disability in addition to PTSD that makes him touch-averse. Even better, both of these things are integral to the plot in such a way that they can’t be removed without sacrificing a massive chunk of the book’s arcs.

Of special mention is Inej Ghafa, reasonably defined as the book’s deuteragonist. As Brekker’s faithful Wraith, she’s religious, a survivor of sex trafficking and quietly intense. She’s also a woman of colour and coded as Roma, which is a wonderful surprise in a genre that still falls prey to idealized or negative stereotypes of “g*psy life”.

However, the book isn’t without flaws; the ages of the protagonists seem almost randomly decided, with Kaz and Jesper in particular coming across as 25-30 rather than 17. The book also rarely refers to them as teenagers, reinforcing the idea that these characters are much older than the book attempts to label them.

Once I’m able to, I’ll be getting my hands on a copy of Crooked Kingdom! And as the Dregs say – no mourners, no funerals.

But seriously, if she kills anybody, I will cry.

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