Series: The Dregs #1
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: September 29, 2015 by Henry Holt (Macmillian)
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: 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.
**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at BEA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****
I absolutely loved the Grisha trilogy. I found it a fantastic YA fantasy with a great world, dubious characters, and a plot full of mystery. So when I heard she was writing a new series, set in the same universe but with new characters and a heist-style plot I was absolutely on board. It was one of my must have books to get at BEA and I couldn't have been more ecstatic to get a copy. And once again I fell in love with the world, the characters, and the plot. But Six of Crows is a very different story from the Grisha trilogy. It's somehow darker and more dramatic which was pretty fantastic.
One of the things that makes Six of Crows darker and more dramatic is the world. I thought Ravka was a scary and dark place but Ketterdam makes it look downright demure. I mean, not really but it's still darker. Ketterdam is center of trade but it's also a center for underworld. It feels almost Dickensian with it's pickpockets and brothels, along with it's sharply dressed dandies in suits and women in elaborate gowns. Leigh's descriptions of dark alleys and dingy streets set the tone and atmosphere for the book while providing a compelling and elaborate setting. But it's more than that. In The Grisha trilogy we got to know all about Grisha powers. In Six of Crows there isn't much use of Grisha powers despite the fact that they are very much still a part of the world and the plot. But they are treated very differently in this book. They're not viewed as heroes and soldiers in this part of the world and as a reader who has grown to see them that way, it makes things seems darker and more treacherous even. The darker setting and their view on Grisha also added a lot on conflict to the book.
The characters of Six of Crows are also much darker and more dramatic. Because Ketterdam is a place with a thriving underworld, our characters are dubious underworld types. The book is told from five different perspectives and each one of them is a thief and/or a rogue. I personally love those kinds of characters. I love unlikable characters that do devious and morally grey things. No one is more devious than Kaz Brekker who is the leader leader of the gang. Kaz is pretty hard to love but his intellect, resourcefulness, and loyalty to his crew makes him a compelling and complex character and someone I love to read about. But each character was just as complex, compelling, and just as memorable. My personal favorite was probably Inej who is Kaz's spy, right hand woman, and arguably his moral compass. She has tons of vulnerability and badass fighting skills. I also really enjoyed Jesper who is great comic relief and a reckless gambler, as well as Nina a Grisha heartrender who doesn't think twice about using her powers and still has a heart of gold. But all the characters are also full of secrets. Throughout the book we get a little bit of their backstories which informs us how they got to be the way they are and where they are. Plus there are some truly magnificent ships (this from someone who just did a post about how they are romancephobic).
But the characters are not the only thing that is full of secrets, so is the plot. I don't want to give too much away because while this isn't really a mystery, the real story of the book comes to you in pieces as it develops. The general plot here is a heist type of story. The characters are trying to break into a place that is impossible to break into. But this reckless crew is perfect for the job and yet things still don't go well. I mean of course it's going to be a challenge. What fun would it be if things didn't go a little wrong? There are so many twists, twists that may or not have all been part of the plan to begin with but had me on the edge of my seat wondering just how the characters were going to get out of one scrap after another. The schemes are elaborate and interesting and it gave the book a real high stakes adventure feel which I totally loved.
But because it is about scheming and plotting a crime the plot here was a little bit slow. We had to meet and get attached to the characters so when they were put in trouble we would be invested in their success and when they were thrown twists from within the group and without we would be shocked and concerned. That kind of took awhile and for someone like me who is more of a plot driven reader I was waiting to get to the more action-packed moments. There were a few moments of action towards the beginning of the book but it did take a little bit for things to really get interesting. Despite the fact that the pacing was a little slower than I usually like, it was incredibly entertaining and I stayed up much later than I expected reading it and I really had to force myself to go to sleep a few nights because I was furiously turning pages and needing to know what happens next.
On the whole Six of Crows was a dark and dramatic read with an interesting setting and world, complex and devious characters, and a plot full of mystery and action. And even though the pacing was a little slower than I usually like I was hooked from the very beginning and when it was all over I was in desperate need of the next book in the series.
Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. Leigh Bardugo has done it again. She has taken a world that I already was a fan of and relocated us to a place that is just as much if not more interesting, with dark and complex characters who you can't help but love, and given us a plot that will keep you reading through all 460 amazing pages. Another fantastic series that fans of the Grisha trilogy will love and even if you haven't read that series and you enjoy fantasy heist books or books about thieves, check this one out.
Have you read Six of Crows? What did you think? Leave a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!