Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo
★★★★★ (5 out of 5 stars)
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.
Wow! Well that was fantastic. The story is told from 5 different points of view—Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Nina, and Matthias—about 6 main characters with Wylan being the only main character from whom we don’t read a point of view. Both the opening and closing chapters are from the perspective of someone outside of the main group of protagonists. These perspectives help to give a more substantial feel to the world and to share with us an outsider’s impression of our group.
I LOVE these characters! They are so realistic in their shortcomings and weaknesses, but also in their strengths and abilities. Nothing seemed forced or over the top, no one was too perfect or contrived. It genuinely felt like reading about real people in albeit extraordinary circumstances.
Kaz, the leader of this rag tag group, is an enigma. He is callous and blunt, but also calculating and devious. He is an asshole, but a likeable one. He’s just so cool and collected. He’s a con man, a thief, and a murderer, and yet I still rooted for him—I still liked him. Even when I felt repelled by a choice he made, I still wanted to keep reading about him. He has redeeming qualities, arguably very few, but they are there nonetheless. I wish we could have seen even more inside his thought processes and his scheming.
Inej, also known as the Wraith, is so freakin’ awesome. I love her. She is Kaz’s spy, sneaking around and infiltrating everywhere, from members of government and merchant’s houses, to other gangs, stealing secrets and gathering intel for him. She was kidnapped from her bed and sold as a slave to a pleasure house in Ketterdam when she was younger. She remained there until Kaz met her and recognized how she could be useful to him. She is, to me, the most badass of the group by far, and I really enjoyed her chapters.
I liked Jesper a lot. Kaz brings him into the group for his skill as a sharpshooter. He is a thrill seeking adrenaline junky with a gambling addiction. He thrives on danger and adventure, and gets antsy and moody when he is confined in one area for too long. I found his point of view brought a lot of lightness to an otherwise very dark story. At the end of the day he makes bad choices but is a good person.
Nina is a grisha (a person with magical skill) who was formally trained and learning to use her powers as a weapon. She has a backstory with Matthias that is full of hurt and betrayal, and she has taken up with Kaz’s gang while she stays in Ketterdam trying to make right a terrible choice she made in the past. She’s strong, confident, and kind.
Matthias… Ugh. I really didn’t like Matthias for about 80% of this book. He is a Druskelle—elite trained (brainwashed) soldiers whose purpose is to hunt down grisha and ultimately have them killed. His bigotry towards grisha and his misogyny in general was hard to read. There was a lot of eye rolling and huffing happening as I read his chapters. I did find that as the book progressed and he grew as a person I was able to come around to him just a little.
Then there was Wylan, sweet baby Wylan. Unlike the others he grew up in an extremely privileged household and he (for reasons unknown to us for most of the story) left his old life to live in the slums of Ketterdam. Kaz recruits him to help assist with explosives. Another thing which sets Wylan apart is that he obviously disagrees with the unscrupulous manner in which the rest of the crew goes about achieving their goals. He is a clear juxtaposition to them for most of the story.
There were so many things to love about this book: the way the world setting was dark and conniving but the author wrote just enough humor in the story to ease some of the tension. I loved the camaraderie and dialogue between Inej and Nina, Jesper’s flirtatious teasing with Wylan, and how different each point of view was from the others, each one having a unique tone and feel.
Finally, I really enjoyed the pacing. The plot moved pretty steadily for most of the book and then Bardugo kept the plot/action driving onward so quickly in the last third that there were times that I had to put the book down and take a breath because my heart wouldn’t stop racing.