Overall Rating: 4/5
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Crime, Adventure
Read if you loved: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adayemi, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, Catch Me if You Can, White Collar
Content warnings: Violence
Set within the Grishaverse in Ketterdam, a trade and profit-driven locale that is home to merchants and thieves alike, Six of Crows follows dangerous gang leader Kaz Brekker and his motley crew of criminals on a quest that might just put an end to their brash lives. When rumors of a dangerous Grisha power-enhancing drug begin to swirl, and the creator of the substance is confined at an impenetrable prison, political ambition and greed emerge as forces that threaten to overwhelm any semblance of peace between nations. Kaz and his team are given the impossible task of retrieving the scientist responsible, but they might just kill each other first. Thrumming with intense emotion and action alike, Six of Crows leverages the magic of the universe already established in Shadow and Bone but examines it from an entirely new lens. Leigh Bardugo continues to showcase her compelling world and character-building abilities, so much so that you cannot help but be caught in an enchanting reverie.
This book ticked so many boxes for me. If it weren’t for the nature of the universe it’s set in, it would be less fantasy and more crime/adventure. Magic takes a backseat but that was not a priority for me – I was enthralled by the political scheming, fascinating character dynamics, and the way in which Bardugo flawlessly expanded the scope of the Grishaverse. There were so many aspects of Six of Crows that felt like notable improvements from Shadow and Bone. Kaz is a far more interesting and realized protagonist than Alina, and the other characters brought in throughout are equally fascinating, complex, and diverse. While I don’t mind first-person narratives, I thought it did Shadow and Bone a disservice, but there is none of that here. Told from multiple third-person limited perspectives, Six of Crows felt more sweeping and engaging, building layer upon layer of conflicting character motivations, all of which contribute to the tension maintained throughout the story. This also helps create a comprehensive storyline that spans the entire Grishaverse and all its unique details.
If there was one major issue I had, it was with the way characters’ histories were revealed. It often came in the form of flashbacks that evolved into information dumps, often in places where it did not make a lot of sense. Moreover, they occurred back to back, and with the number of characters and the already complex storyline, it felt a little disjointed and as though they were being fit in where possible. The story itself is a fairly standard YA adventure plot, and its strengths certainly lay in other elements of the book. It was also a little too long, but again, nothing too off-putting.
I would definitely recommend Six of Crows to my fellow fantasy lovers. So far, I think it has a lot more potential than Shadow and Bone, but I cannot deny that it’s more enjoyable because I read the trilogy first. It felt like I was settling back into a world I already knew, and the little references throughout felt like a secret I got to be in on. Now my mind is buzzing with thoughts of how the two are going to be combined in the show. Are we going to get a dual timeline? Will we watch Shadow and Bone unfold in tandem with the events prior to Six of Crows? Let me know what you think!