Is there anything more alluring than reading a story that promises to be wickedly smart? Because Six of Crows delivers. It’s the kind of epic fantasy tale that uses the complicated heist schemes from the likes of Ocean’s Eleven and wraps them in a fantasy world of magicians and dangerous drugs and unfathomable powers, set in an ice court with six teens who are using their genius skills for criminal intentions. Say hi to Kaz Brekker and the Dregs because you’re about to have your heart stolen.
THE BOOK IN 3 SENTENCES
When Kaz Brekker is offered a fortune in return for robbing the impenetrable Ice Court to steal a scientist who’s making a deadly drug weapon that could destroy the world from the inside out, he takes the deal. However, getting his motley crew to cooperate long enough to pull off the heist when they have split loyalties is turning out to be harder than it looks. The trick is never to be vulnerable and never care too much about his crew — a task that’s harder than it should be.
IT IS SET IN THE GRISHA UNIVERSE
Leigh Bardugo has crafted a fantasy universe like no other! It’s full of magical Grisha, Russian folklore, kings and saints and fairy tales. You can read Six of Crows on its own without foraying into the rest of Bardugo’s work. However, if you want to read her books in chronological order go with: (1) Shadow and Bone, (2) Siege and Storm, (3) Ruin and Rising, (4) Six of Crows and then its sequel, Crooked Kingdom.
MEET OUR SIX CRIMINAL TEENS, A.K.A. THE DREGS
My favorite part of heist storylines (especially in the movies!) is when the leader gathers together their team to pull off the “impossible” heist. It’s always so much fun seeing a bunch of eccentric people teaming up to pool their strengths, while their personalities clash until the last moment when they all pull through.
Six of Crows delivered the epic cast too! First off we have Kaz Brekker (a thief who wants the world) who owns the crew and is a bitter little espresso. He walks with a cane after an accident shattered his leg and he’s ruthless and cunning… but also hiding a vulnerable and broken past.
Then there’s Inej Gafa, a spy known as the Wraith, who was an acrobat before being sold into slavery and later freed by Kaz. She’s his number one and sees and hears everything. Jesper Fahey, a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager, who is loud and talkative and thrives on chaos.
Nina Zenik, a Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums, the only magician in the group and love with cake and also a boy who probably wants her dead. Matthias Helvar, a convict with a thirst for revenge, an ex-witch hunter who fell in love with his mark and is the only one who knows the layout of the place Kaz wants to rob.
And lastly, Wylan, a runaway with a privileged past, the last piece of the crew, a soft, rich boy, hiding out in the slums. He has a knack for exploding things but is he even whom he claims to be?
You can’t help but love the entire crew. They all have complex and intriguing backstories, some will break your heart, and their dynamics are full of bickering, love and sometimes betrayal.
A CLEVER PLOT THAT KEEPS YOU GUESSING
Heist storylines are tricky because you need to know what’s going on, but not know too much, so the story is still full of surprises. Bardugo balances this perfectly. We get the outline of their plan, but, as it unfolds, the details and twists leave you clutching the pages and whispering, “Ok that was so so clever.”
The plot is the beautiful gem of the story, but the characters aren’t lacking development either. All six have solid character arcs. They have wishes and failings. Yes, it does fall into the habit of matching everyone up romantically, but their relationships are anything but smooth sailing. There’s nothing like a dangerous heist where you could die at any moment to make you stop and yell at your ex-boyfriend for being obtuse.
HEROES? YOU MEAN… ANTIHEROES
Look, it’s about six criminals. And while some of them still have a moral compass, Kaz doesn’t seem to. He’s hardened by a childhood of suffering, by the streets, but living in a vicious dark-hearted town called Ketterdam, where you either become con artist or you sit around and get conned yourself.
The book doesn’t just take us to the dark side; it hurts us in by the throat. I loved how it handled a lot of morally grey questions though. How far will they go? When are their dark acts justified? Most of the teens are doing this as a means to an end, or they’re desperate for money to pay of slavery-like indentures.
But, Kaz keeps himself and his reasons aloof from the group, with his crow-head cane and his delicate trickster fingers always covered in gloves. But he’s carrying a secret about a lost brother and a man who left him for dead. Kaz Brekker is the kind of schemer who will wait for years to cultivate the perfect plan to exact his full revenge.
IT’S A BOOK ABOUT ADDICTION THAT WILL LEAVE YOU ADDICTED
There are so many threads of addiction in this book and different angles to look at and explore. The teens are after the scientist who makes this magical drug that can give Grisha many strengths… but the addiction will kill them.
Most of the crew members are craving things like friendship, closeness, forgiveness, or redemption. And Kaz himself is addicted to his need for revenge, for power and money after he was once powerless.
I love how this theme, this desperation for power and not to be helpless, tied the whole book together. It’s the kind of story that not only presents you with a flashy plot of schemes and twists; it also is full of heart and vulnerabilities. It will make you think. And it will leave you desperate for the sequel.
About the Author
CG Drews is a YA book blogger with the goal to read every book in existence. She’s aiming for immortality for this. When not reading, she writes novels, at paperfury.com.