Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication date: September 29, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Summary from Goodreads:
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.
Kaz leaned back. "What's the easiest way to steal a man's wallet?"
Here is an author who knows how to write multiple narratives, creating great characterization, and an exciting plot! There are six narratives, which can be so confusing, but Leigh Bardugo beautifully weaves internal dialogue (that also offers outside observations of the other characters) with memories and present conversations for each narrator. On top of characters with unique backgrounds and personalities, Bardugo writes one exciting heist adventure. Think – Oceans 11 meets down and dirty, gritty fantasy.
Kaz narrowed his eyes. “I’m not some character out of a children’s story who plays harmless pranks and steals from the rich to give to the poor."
Kaz, the leader of the group, was equally difficult for me to like and totally intriguing. A hardened gang leader who’s out for the long journey of revenge, Kaz’s humanity and story is slowly revealed. It’s his humanity that makes him so intriguing. He’s lethal with a limp and a major handicap disguised by monstrous rumors. And just when you think Kaz will never have a trustworthy relationship with anyone, he discovers new desires during the course of their heist.
“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”
“You may still die in the dregs."
Inej is my favorite character. A spiritual ninja known as the Wraith; Inej is reluctantly violent. She’ll do what she needs to in order to survive. Her and Kaz have a business relationship, but both characters have snuck under the skin of the other. She’s also the relationship glue that holds the team together. I liked how her an Nina were both capable and strong, but had a distinct feminine relationship. Inej was also the only other person besides Matthias who contemplated the moral consequences of her life.
Four million kruge, freedom, a chance to return home. She’d said she wanted these things. But in her heart, she couldn’t bear the thought of returning to her parents. Could she tell her mother and father the truth? Would they understand all she’d done to survive, not just at the Menagerie, but every day since? Could she lay her head in her mother’s lap and be forgiven? What would they see when they looked at her?
Nina is a Grisha (a race with special powers, they are mostly used as slaves). Kaz recruits her for obvious reasons, for her ability and her direct connection to Matthias, who is in prison because of Nina. Matthias was trained in a religious group that hunts down Grisha, because they are unnatural and a danger to society. Their relationship is complicated and the most angsty.
She wouldn't wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn't be rid of.
Jesper and Wylan round out the group. From very different backgrounds these two do not understand each other, but a few life-threatening situations reveal a lot about a person. These two also offer much of the comic relief.
Jesper knocked his head against the hull and cast his eyes heavenward. “Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”
The challenge is to accomplish an impossible heist with a group of characters who have little respect or trust for one another. Six of Crows is a well-written, exciting adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You don’t need to read Bardugo’s other books set in this world to enjoy it, though you might understand the world building a little better, which was a tad overwhelming at times.
No mourners. No funerals. Among them, it passed for 'good luck.'
Would I let my teen read this book?
I loved this book. It has some heavy themes of slavery, prostitution, gang fighting, and an occasional violent graphic scene, but overall these things added to the world building for the characters and plot and added to the unpredictability and high stakes. I recommend this book for older teen boys and girls and any adults who love fantasy.
Age recommendation: 16
Language – Some – there’s one F-word and one or two other swear words.
Drugs & Alcohol— Alcohol is mentioned or alluded to
Sex – Sex and sexuality are alluded to between men and women and men and other men; Both female characters work in or have worked in a brothel – though Nina does not do traditional work, and Inej’s freedom was bought by Kaz – no graphic details here
Violence – Knife, gun, and cane violence – people are stabbed, shot, and beat; one graphic scene where someone’s eyeball is pulled out (that was shocking!)
My Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.