Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

5/5 Stars
Published by Henry Holt 
Published September 20th, 2016

Synopsis: Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

Caution ahead: this is going to be a really messy review in which I basically word vomit everything I felt throughout this book. So if you're really in the mood for a laugh and maybe some tears, please stick around I swear I'll make it worth it.

Before we begin this treacherous journey back into my depths of despair, let's just acknowledge the elephant in the room - the ending to Six of Crows. I already thought I could never be betrayed as much as I was during those final 20 pages, but I was so very wrong. Leigh Bardugo came back with a strong duology ender and probably one of the best books I've ever read in my life. Her writing continuously gains depth and just keeps getting better as the years go on. The prose was so obviously tended to with such tender loving care, but it was so effortless that reading Crooked Kingdom was like a breath of fresh air even though you felt like you were drowning. There is no denying that Leigh Bardugo is great at what she does. 

Lemme just get straight to it, the whole squad in this book had me hyperventilating practically the entire time. Right off the bat, we've already escalated to an intense and very stressful situation. Instead of the characters cracking, I was the one that was cracking. This group of characters is so strong together, yet so powerful individually, it's mind-boggling that Leigh was able to create a group of six + amazing characters. Each of them are so unique and different in their own brilliant ways, that it shines such a positive light on having diversity as the one of the focal points of a book. I will always love Kaz and Inej, and Jesper and Wylan, and Matthias and Nina; my whole world revolves around them and these two books. Crooked Kingdom really let each and every one of these characters have a chance to get vulnerable with one another, which really garnered different reactions and plot schemes to pop up along the way. I aspire to be everything these characters are in terms of strength, selflessness, and courage. 

It's no lie when people say that Leigh Bardugo writes some badass action sequences. Everything about Crooked Kingdom was crazy, I could barely keep up. The crew comes up with these plans that just seem so bizarre and impossible to achieve, yet they always get it done and it is so elaborate every time. It must have been a blast to write these sequences, because I'm sure as Leigh was writing them out, she was laughing at us the entire time. A lot of the scenes were so intense and fast paced, that I would legit have to stop to just contemplate what had happened and to just breathe. If I had been caught by Van Eck, I would've been running and crying home, but these guys were so dedicated to getting their damn money and the revenge. I was so captivated by the plot. It was nonstop action: hiding from the enemy, planning against the enemy, fighting the enemy - the whole world was out to get these guys yet they still had the chance to eat some cakes and joke about. I loved this book.

And while everything was going as planned and everyone was getting their "happy endings", my ass was not - and neither was a certain someone.  I've never felt so betrayed in my entire life, you do not understand. I felt as though I had placed a large amount of trust in Leigh herself and then she just spit on me and soiled my dreams. She is brilliant, she is a queen, she is Leigh Bardugo and she has no mercy. Crooked Kingdom had me crying in the car for 30 minutes, because of its sheer beauty inside and out. I will never stop pushing people to read this duology.