Image and blurb from Amazon:
“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.”
This book is magic. Such a fantastic story with fantastic characters. This book made me feel. I am going to attempt to convey why I love it so much but just know the review will not do it justice!
The story is set in Ketterdam, which is in the same world as the Grisha trilogy. I actually wasn’t aware that this story is set in the same world so I am happy I at least read Shadow and Bone before picking this one up. Shadow and Bone was so-so for me and the world-building was average. I know we are in the same world in Six of Crows, but it is so much better! Ketterdam is a hub for international trade and is also filled with crime and various gangs. Kaz Brekker leads the Dregs, one of the most notorious gangs in Ketterdam and Kaz himself is a well-known thief and criminal. When Kaz is offered a job, an impossible job of breaking into the Ice Court, he gathers his crew and they set off on their mission. While the action is undoubtedly exciting, the characters in the crew are really what makes this book special. Told through alternating points of view and through a series of flashbacks, we intimately get to know each character and how they came to be part of Kaz’s crew.
Kaz is such a complex character. He initially seems like he is only an uncaring and ruthless criminal. He wears his signature black leather gloves and is also known as Dirtyhands. The more I learned about Kaz’s past and his motivations for his actions, the more I loved him. He is both broken and hardened, yet he still has a few softer moments.
“There was no part of him that was not broken, that had healed wrong, and there was no part of him that was not stronger for having been broken.”
Inej, also known as the Wraith, is Kaz’s spy. She has learned to move silently and gather information from anyone. She learned to fight and kill to protect herself. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her relationship develop with Kaz, she is loyal to him but doesn’t quite understand him. Inej was one of my favorites- this girl is so tough!
Jesper, the sharpshooter. Jesper provides some much-needed comedic relief throughout some of the more tense scenes. Jesper thrives on adrenaline and doesn’t feel quite right unless he is risking his life, or on the gambling tables. He also often seems to question his role on the team. I absolutely loved Jesper and Wylan’s interactions, they had some of my favorite dialogue in the book. Jesper always had a way of making me laugh in some of the more serious situations.
“He made himself refocus on Inej’s feet. “Sants,” he said.
Inej grimaced. “That bad?”
“No, you just have really ugly feet.”
Nina is a powerful Heartrender and Grisha soldier and she carries this fact with pride. She has an interesting relationship with Matthias, who hunts Grisha and has grown up hating people like her. Nina is not necessarily as skilled in hand-to-hand comment, but she helps the crew with her Grisha abilities as well as her skill at blending in and speaking multiple languages. I really grew to love Nina.
Matthias is Fjerdan and a druskelle or “witch-hunter.” Matthias is loyal to his country and knowing Nina is the only thing that has made him question his views and way of life. He joins Kaz’s crew, but makes it clear where his loyalties lie early on. I loved watching Matthias’ internal struggle with his loyalty to his kingdom, his feelings for Nina and his grudging admiration for the group he was essentially forced to work with.
Wylan is the demolition guy and relatively new to the crime world and the most inexperienced of the crew. While he initially comes across as meek and quiet, we soon learn that Wylan is brave, loyal and charmingly adorable. While we didn’t have any chapters from his point of view, I really started to care for him! He also seemed pleasantly surprised whenever his demos went right, which was hilarious.
“Gunfire sounded from above. Apparently, Wylan had found the controls.
“For Saints’ sake,” Jesper said to Inej. “Help him aim!”
All of these characters are so rich and complex. Not only did I care for each of them, I loved watching the relationships develop between them (not necessarily romantic, although there was a little romance!). Jesper and Inej had some sweet moments as friends. Nina and Matthias have many tense yet passionate moments. I even enjoyed the moments with Kaz and Matthias as the two men realize they understand each other better than they thought. It is so rare for me to read a book where I care about this many characters so deeply. Six of them!
I also love that this book has male narrators! Granted, it has alternating point of views so the entire book is not a male narrator but many of the chapters are told through Kaz, Jesper or Matthias’ voice. We need more male narrators in YA books! Off the top of my head I can only think of a few other YA books that have male narrators- An Ember in the Ashes and most books by John Green. I also thought of Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, The Maze Runner by James Dashner and Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins but these are arguably middle-grade books. It was refreshing to have a male POV.
This was such an exciting, refreshing read. Bardugo creates such a beautiful, intricate world that I was completely immersed in it until I finished the book. While it doesn’t end on a giant cliffhanger, I definitely need to know what happens to my beloved crew!