Six of Crows — Leigh Bardugo

April 28, 2018

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

TITLE: Six of Crows
AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo
SERIES: Six of Crows, #1
RELEASED: September 29th, 2015; Henry Holt and Company
GENRE: Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: 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.


My god, this book. I mean… I already know that I can’t even do it a little bit of justice with this review, but I have to try. I cannot believe that this beautiful, incredible, wondrous book sat on my shelf unread for fourteen months before I picked it up—all because I hadn’t finished the Grisha trilogy yet. Let me tell you, as long as you’ve read Shadow and Bone, if you’re putting this off until you finish that trilogy, either hurry up and polish those off, or let ‘em go and move on, because this book is one hundred percent worth picking up right now.


“No mourners, no funerals. Among them, it passed for ‘good luck’.”

First of all, if you like books with #squadgoals, this is one of the best I’ve ever read (in fact, I’d say that the Dregs are perfectly tied with my other favorite bookish squad, which is the Night Court’s inner circle). These characters are so gorgeously three-dimensional, so complex and lovable and moody and clever and flawed and relatable, that I found myself immediately falling in love with each and every one of them within mere pages of meeting them.

“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”

→ Kaz Brekker ←
The star of the show (for me, at least) is “Dirtyhands” Kaz: the disabled orphan boy, grown up to be a vicious, thieving gang leader. He comes across as so unpredictable and unfeeling that his own closest confidantes can rarely read him or guess his next move, but when we see things through his perspective, he’s so immensely convoluted and carries so much weight from the world around him that I think it’s just about impossible not to empathize with him and want to protect him—even if all he needs protection from, most of the time, is himself.

Many boys will bring you flowers, But someday you’ll meet a boy who will learn your favorite flower, your favorite song, your favorite sweet. And even if he is too poor to give you any of them, it won’t matter because he will have taken the time to know you as no one else does.

→ Inej Ghafa ←
Kaz’s right hand, Inej, is an incredibly close second for my favorite character—or tied with Kaz for the position, depending upon which chapter you catch me in. Nicknamed “The Wraith”, she’s a brilliant assassin; if you love the stereotypical stoic rogue characters, Inej is your gal. She’s a lovely enough character for her actions within the book’s events, but what really gave her the special place in my heart was her backstory. While Leigh Bardugo tiptoes and uses implications for the most part, Inej was forced to work in a brothel for some time, and when she reminisces on her fearful memories (and the loving family that came before them), it breaks my heart a little more every time.

She’d laughed, and if he could have bottled the sound and gotten drunk on it every night, he would have.

→ Nina Zenik ←
Before I describe my feelings for Nina, I have to tell you that so many of my SOC-loving friends had told me I reminded them of her character (or vice-versa), I was legitimately nervous to meet her, but once I did, I related so hard to her mannerisms and ways of viewing the world that it surprised me. She’s flirty and a little wild, unafraid to indulge when she can, but protective and worrisome over her friends nearly to a fault. She’s also some of the most unapologetically healthy and sexy plus size rep I’ve ever seen in a book, which is a fact that was enough to win me over all on its own, because, yes please, can I get more where this came from?

“The water hears and understands. The ice does not forgive.”

→ Matthias Helvar ←
Matthias is literally the only character that I ever felt ambivalent towards: he’s a Fjerdan hunter of Grisha people, and his prejudices and brainwashing run very deep, so there are moments here and there where I wanted to roll my eyes and shake him. That said, he’s a quintessential teddy bear character at his core, and by the end of the book, he was just as much a part of the gang to me as any of the other five.

“Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”

→ Jesper Fahey ←
In the start of the book, I feel like Jesper is one of the characters we are given the least chances to love, but by the end, he was so precious and hilarious that I just wanted to squeeze him. He’s the comic relief of the group, but he’s also an incredible sharpshooter who can always be counted on to save someone else’s hide, so long as he isn’t too busy nursing his gambling addiction. He’s also the black bi icon of the group, which further shows off Leigh’s commitment to wonderfully diverse casts of characters. ♥

“Always hit where the mark isn’t looking.”
“Who’s Mark?”

→ Wylan Van Eck ←
Last but not least is the youngest and most innocent of the group: Wylan, a sweet kid who knows a little too much about bombs and found himself roped into the Dregs through some unusual (and rather unfortunate) circumstances. He’s like the little kid of the group, even though he’s nearly the same age as the other teens, and he’s so quiet and timid at times that it made me melt. Just because he’s not my #1 fave, doesn’t mean I won’t set fire to anyone who hurts him.

It became a declaration. There was no part of him that was not broken, that had not healed wrong, and there was no part of him that was not stronger for having been broken.

All of these characters are just so damn lovable, and I so incredibly cherished the fact that Leigh Bardugo was so committed to presenting a cast of characters that was what I like to call “real world” diverse. A lot of complaints I’ve heard about this series say that it’s too diverse, and I think that’s ridiculous—if you look at the world around you, unless you live in a heavily socially segregated area, chances are you’re surrounded by people from all cultures, sexualities, identities, and walks of life. Out of the six Dregs, there’s only one who isn’t marginalized in some way, and I positively love that fact. ♥

He needed to tell her… what? That she was lovely and brave and better than anything he deserved. That he was twisted, crooked, wrong, but not so broken that he couldn’t pull himself together into some semblance of a man for her.

On top of the diversity aspect and how lovable everyone is, the romance in this book could make you swoon for weeks. (No, more like years… forever? Yeah, we’ll go with that.) The six Dregs branch into three couples, and normally, that would annoy me in the sense of not wanting to see everyone pair off with one another, but in this book, it just works. Everything is so gorgeously slow-burning and intense and magical, and I feel like every single couple deserves to be in my Top OTPs of All Time™ list.

Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.

I could honestly go on for days, but trust me when I say that Leigh Bardugo is, in my eyes, a goddess and a literary queen. She sculpts some of the most beautiful worlds I’ve ever seen, and I could happily spend series upon series in Kerch, or Ravka, or Fjerda, or anywhere in between. This was the fifth book of Leigh’s that I’ve read, and easily my favorite so far, but I have high hopes that the second book in the duology will take my love for her even further. If you enjoy fantasy novels with heists, scheming, and one of the best character casts you’ve ever seen, don’t hesitate to pick this one up.



More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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    1. YAAAAS GIRL! I LOVED this book so much. Like…so so so so much. Kaz will forever be my favorite antihero. I will never love another set of characters as much as my precious murderbabies.

    1. YAAAAAS! So glad you loved this one! I highly recommend the audiobook too. It was very well done, and each character gets their own narrator :O <3

      1. OMG. I didn’t know that about the narrators! Okay, so I’m totally tucking that tidbit away so that the next time I see it on sale on Audible (or whenever I want to reread it), I’m going to grab it! Thank you, love! ♥

      1. Second the audiobook! It was my favorite until I heard the Illuminae files audiobooks. Plus it’s nice to have Kaz in your ear at work 😉

        1. Oooo yes I keep hearing about Illuminae! But I’m conflicted because I own the hardcover…and I’d feel bad if I didn’t read the hardcover… especially because of the visuals in it!

          1. A lot of people I know like to read the hardcover while listening to the audiobook! I personally can’t do that because I have a hard time syncing up my reading and listening, though. 🙁

    1. I’m so glad you liked this! Nina is amazing! Can more plus sized women be written like her please??? Jesper is actually my favorite so I’m eager to see what you think of him in Crooked Kingdom. I LOVED Six of Crows but Crooked Kingdom is on my favorite books of all time list. Ahhh you’ve made me want to reread this!

      1. Thank you so much, Justine! ♥ OMG, yes to Nina – I honestly loved her plus size rep so much. The fact that she’s like this blazing hottie and nobody cares that she’s plus size? AMAZING.
        I’m a few chapters into CK right now and honestly, I already enjoy him more than I did in SOC! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I liked him a lot in SOC too, but watching him interact with his dad was so precious and heartbreaking. ♥

    1. I haven’t read the Grisha trilogy, but I plan to read Six of Crows anyway, because I’ve read nothing but amazing things. Glad you loved it!

    1. I read SoC for the first time like a month or so before you and have been struggling to put my thoughts into words, which your review did brilliantly! I loved the quote and character breakdown for each of them! Well done!! Now I want to re-listen before diving into CK lol

      1. Awww, thank you so much! ♥ You’re so sweet. OMG. Okay, any other time I would say “yesss, reread!” but considering that I’m a few chapters into CK right now, I say you should TOTALLY start that and we can discuss! ♥♥

        1. Oh that’s really tempting too!! I’m finishing up a new ARC contemp hopefully tomorrow so I’ll try and get to CK pronto!!!

    1. Yay, my fave! So glad you enjoyed it. If you liked this one, get ready for Crooked Kingdom, because it will break your heart in ways you’re not ready for.
      Also… wtf are people talking about when they say it’s ‘too diverse’? Lol, it’s not even *that* diverse. Like, yes, it has more diversity than most YA books, but still, most characters are white or allocishet or not disabled. There are much more diverse books out there, and this is not to criticise SoC in any way, because I think it deserves the praise it gets and it’s a very important book – it’s just that this book being considered so diverse shows how low our standards are (I hope I made myself clear, I feel like I didn’t express myself very well, haha). These people should really take a look at the world around them and see that not everyone is like them.

      1. I’m about halfway through CK right now and it is totally shredding me, but in the best way!
        And yeah… I’ve heard multiple people say it’s “unrealistic” for any group of that size to have that many individuals of marginalized communities. I mean, every person in the group minus Matthias is from a marginalized community in some way, so it is honestly one of the most diverse book “squads” I’ve ever read about, but it’s not unrealistic in any way!

    1. I haven’t read any of the Grisha trilogy but I’ve heard you don’t really need to? I’ve had this one sitting on my shelf neglected for probably a year or more too and wasn’t sure if I should read the trilogy first once I realized it was set in the same world.

      1. Well, the thing is that book 1 of the trilogy offers the only real world-building and back story you ever get for the Grisha, so if you go into SOC without it, you won’t be super lost, but you’ll miss a lot of details. If you don’t read books 2 and 3 of the trilogy, you’ll miss a ton of cameos and fun little tidbits, but nothing drastically important. If I had to do it over again, I’d definitely still read the trilogy first, but I don’t think it’s a necessity at all!

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