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Friday, January 15, 2016

REVIEW: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

“No mourners. No funerals.” 
Ketterdam is a bustling epicenter of trade and just about anything can be obtained for the right price. A new drug has emerged, which heightens Grisha abilities but brings with it deadly implications and addictions. Enter Kaz Brekker, criminal prodigy, who gets the chance at a deadly heist to acquire the scientist responsible for this drug formula. The payout is unbelievable; too bad he's held prisoner in the impenetrable Fjerdan Ice Court.  Too pull this off, Kaz assembles a ragtag team, each with a specific skillset and fascinating backstories that will have readers of any age burning through pages. Here's the team:

Kaz - criminal prodigy and thief known as Dirtyhands. He has an uncanny gift for unlikely escapes.  Kaz is as charismatic as he is tortured by his past and dead set on rising to power and influence to enact vengeance against those who've wronged him. He's intelligent, shrewd, shady and complicated but also capable of emotion. I loved this quote:

“I'm a business man," he'd told her. "No more, no less."
"You're a thief, Kaz."
"Isn't that what I just said?”

I can't wait to read more about him in the next book!

Inej - known as the Wraith, she is a spy, capable of slipping in to discover people's darkest secrets. She has a troubled past too--sold into slavery at a brothel until her debt was paid by Kaz's associate. Inej can scale buildings as stealthily as a cat. Fierce, strong and independent, I loved her character and the interesting relationship she has with Kaz. I hope they can get to a good place where each can be happy.  Her quote at the end, “I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all", just wrecked me!

Nina - is a powerful Grisha, a heartrender. She's capable of killing or disabling an enemy with a flick of her wrist but she's also caring and has a useful skill set for this mission.  Her desire to return home to Ravka is strong but so is her determination to remain in Ketterdam to set right a wrong. I loved Nina. She's strong and independent like Inej but a whole lot funnier. Her relationship with Matthias is pretty epic. I swooned over comments like: “If we make it out of here alive, I’m going to kiss you unconscious.” I'm sure there are profound implications for Nina and the events of this book's ending.   I found her scenes exploring the systematic eradication of the Grisha by the Fjerdans compelling due to the echoing emotions and themes regarding the Holocaust and concentration camps.

Matthias - is a convict and one time Fjerdan Druskelle. The former military witch hunter is hellbent on revenge for his wrongful imprisonment.  The only problem is he's in love with her too. Matthias is harsh and unpredictable but capable of tenderness. Bardugo's writing of this character is stellar in how his beliefs and notions of loyalty change throughout the story. You want to talk about epic starcrossed lovers? Matthias and Nina are it.  This quote:  I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath"---my heart hurts! xoxox

Jesper  - is the wise cracking sharpshooter with a gambling problem and another juicy secret. This secret gives them a huge advantage during the heist. He's got a great sense of humor and I had to chuckle when he drops lines like, "Well, we've managed to get ourselves locked into the most secure prison in the world. We're either geniuses or the dumbest sons of bitches to ever breathe air.”  I like Jesper and am intrigued where the journey will take him.  Bardugo is working a few angles here and I want to see how these notions transpire down the road.  Jesper and Wylan make a good team and Bardugo's writing is building on that.

Wylan - lastly we have the runaway. Wylan has grown up privileged but he has his own dark secrets which come to light toward the end of the book. He's not familiar with this life of crime and danger but other skills such as demolition, art and having been to the Ice Court before make him a valuable member of the crew. And as Kaz recounts, “You're passable at demo. You're excellent at hostage.”  More than once Wylan proves his worth but Kaz is Kaz and uses Wylan as a bargaining chip should the heist go sideways.

I can't recommend this highly enough. I adored Bardugo's Grisha trilogy. The blend of fantasy steeped with Russian influence makes for astounding world building. The premise, mythology, and folklore additions make for a unique experience with just a dash of Heist Society and Ocean's Eleven. As a reader, I get so immersed in her descriptions I don't want to leave this beautifully described world. The author has a gift for creating memorable characters that illustrate depth beyond those typically found in YA fiction. I want more of this motley crew! I finished this book desperate for more and rather panicked that I have to wait until late 2016 for the follow up.  True to form, I bet the wait is worth it.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book as a must read. I'll leave you with a little more Kaz:

“I’m going to get my money, Kaz vowed. And I’m going to get my girl.”

(gosh, I <3 him!) And, did I mention what a beautiful book this is in print? Go get your hands on it and give is a looksie! It is a piece of art with its cover, black edged pages, red inner lining and the attention to every detail about the visage of the reading experience. Well done Henry Holt & Company, well done!

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @LBardugo or check out her awesome website!

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