Jesper struggled not to laugh. That was definitely Matthias and Wylan. Matthias was hurling the money with way too much force and Wylan with way too much enthusiasm. The kid’s throwing arm needed serious work. He looked like he was actively trying to dislocate his shoulder. (137-138)
Another book to destroy my heart this year. That ending. So many tears. I was sad and then I was ridiculously happy and good god. Bardugo wrote a plot that started out high on adrenaline and she never let off the gas. Every character had an individual personality and a slowly revealed influential backstory that helped me sympathize with the motivations behind their actions. Obviously Crooked Kingdom has been both out and raved about for quite some time, but this is 100% worth the hype.
The constant adrenaline-rush and darkness of this plot was perfectly contrasted with the strong vein of humor Bardugo laced into each scene and dialogue spats amongst the crew. I found myself frequently laughing out loud at Jesper’s statements (often about or to Wylan to make him blush) or Nina’s most recent sassy poke at Matthias. Intermixed with Crooked Kingdom’s humor and intensity was a perfect level of confusion of what was really happening; Bardugo always left the reader slightly outside of the inner circle so we were constantly left guessing about the next plot twist.
This sequel was again written from multiple POVs, which served to highlight how thoroughly Bardugo develops her characters. Flipping through chapters even now, I can tell whose head we’re inhabiting simply by the writing style and personality bleeding from the pages. Every person was well-rounded, each with their own voice, guiding principles, dreams, and internal struggles. While I thought I knew the main six introduced in Six of Crows, here we saw significant character arcs where each of them come into their own, along with a number of additional side characters and villains also contributing to the POV. Each person’s personality and the dynamic relationships between all helped define and build a fully immersive world.
The relationships (romantic and platonic) that developed over the course of this book were fantastic. Jesper’s arc with his father, Colm, was heart-wrenching, hopeful, inspiring, and one of my favorite relationship progressions of this duology. And Nina and Matthias. I loved them with all my heart and soul. The arc of their relationship, from Matthias pledging his protection to their kiss in the Embassy, their ease and playful attitude around each other, his protectiveness forced to be tempered by her strong and independent spirit, their clear love for each other. Ugh. The development of every relationship in this book, be it romantic or platonic, were incredibly well done.
The humorous dialogue mixed with the intensity and emotional wrangling of the ending has made this one of my favorite books of all time. If you want to become completely engrossed in a world of dynamic characters, plot twists, and nonstop action, Crooked Kingdom is your next read. This was the perfect sequel to Six of Crows and I need more in this world.