YA Review: Six of Crows

Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 4/5

Six outcasts, a lot of money, and a dangerous plan come together in Leigh Bardugo’s thrilling fantasy heist story. Set in Ketterdam, a city based loosely on 18th century Holland, the beginning of the book introduces the characters, the mission, and the Grisha – practitioners of specific types of magic kept as indentured servants by rich merchants. As the plot moves forward, the backstories of the characters are introduced in flashbacks and storytelling, and the world beyond Ketterdam is revealed.

There’s a lot going on in this book! We learn about the politics of Ketterdam, from the gangs on the streets to the the Merchant Council that runs the city. There’s the recruitment of the team for the jailbreak and the heist, the backstories of the characters, the journey to their target, and the histories of the relationships between the members of the team. There’s the single-minded determination of the group’s leader, and the constant questioning of loyalties and motivations. For YA, it’s a complex and relatively long book, and it demands – and repays – close and attentive reading.

The characters are well-drawn and distinctive, with their own secrets and grudges, and reasons for joining the team. The plot is detailed and interesting, with enough twists to keep the reader guessing all the way to the end. The world is beautifully imagined, with constrasting countries and cultures adding danger and tension to the story.

I enjoyed the book, and I enjoyed the adventure, but I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I wanted to. The book is written in third person past tense, and I found myself wanting some first-person narration, to really feel as if I was under the skin of the person I was reading about. The author head-hops, with each chapter told from the point of view of one of the characters, and while this is essential to the story, I found the lack of a first-person connection distracted me and distanced me from the more exciting parts of the book. That’s a personal preference, though, and this story is told with skill, depth, and sympathy for the central characters.

It’s a neat, complex, and satisfying story, and the ending sets the scene for the second book. Luckily it’s already on my shelf …

Have you read Six of Crows? What about the other books in the GrishaVerse? What did you think of the story? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

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3 Replies to “YA Review: Six of Crows”

  1. I enjoyed this too – didn’t feel it was YA. The plot rockets along but I could have done with more worldbuilding and explanation of the magic. The sequels good, but I was less impressed by the others set in the world.

  2. There’s a lot packed into the book, isn’t there?

    It’s definitely not exclusively YA – this is a book I would be happy to recommend to any age group. I think the second book did a much better job on the worldbuilding, giving the city of Ketterdam the status of a character in the story, but ‘Six of Crows’ was better on the character development.

    I’ll be posting my review of ‘Crooked Kingdom’ tomorrow – check it out and let me know what you think!

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