The city of Ketterdam is the center of world trade, an industrious city of merchants, ships, banks, embassies, and the like, along with theaters and festivals to delight its many visitors. But Ketterdam has another side, too: one home to ruthless crime bosses, competing street gangs, and a notoriously talented young thief by the name of Kaz Brekker.
When Kaz, who has a gift for the impossible, is offered a deal involving his breaking into one of the most secure buildings in the world, located in distant enemy territory, he shocks everyone by accepting. But as always, he has more prepared than it appears, and he recruits a team that most people would never dream of. A legendary spy, a disgraced elite warrior, a runaway Grisha, a sarcastic sharpshooter, and a fugitive with a flair for chemicals join the master thief himself on a dangerous mission destined to change the fates of Grisha everywhere.
There are several things about this book which really struck me. The characters and character development is outstanding: for most books six different points of view would be confusing and awkward, but instead readers are able to understand each character intimately, and sympathize even with Kaz, who is so cold and ruthless that rumor has it he isn’t even human. Indeed, at first all of the crew members appear heartless and unfeeling, but slowly readers begin to appreciate what they’ve gone through, and also how, despite all appearances, each member of the cast is still incredibly human. Each seems totally different, but as the journey continues, it becomes clear that they may be more similar that they had thought. Each has lost something more precious to them than anything else, and the mission might just give each of them a second chance. But how far are any of them willing to go? And, ultimately, at what cost?
Also, I just want to say that this is definitely on the older side of what we review (think young adult section as oppose to middle grade). I would recommend it for ages 14+, largely because of the fact that there were some pretty violent scenes. However, if you are old enough, trust me and read it—it’s honestly not even the sort of thing I would usually read (I picked it up because I liked the original trilogy*), but the way the story unfolds is completely mind-blowing. Not only does Leigh Bardugo, who is a master of brilliant twists, create a story which gets progressively deeper and more complex as the stakes grow higher, but readers also get flashbacks from each of the six main character’s pasts, revealing their entwined stories as the author builds up to a climax which is impossible to put down. Overall, Six of Crows is an intense but spellbinding read that’s sure to appeal to fans of sophisticated and action-packed fantasy.
*The Six of Crows duology (there’s a sequel as well, and I highly recommend it too) takes place in the Grishaverse, the setting of the Shadow and Bone trilogy and The Language of Thorns. However, there is little overlap, and while I think you can appreciate the duology the most having read the previous books, it’s perfectly fine to start here. They’re very different, but both are really good.