Six of Crows


Written By Ana Burk , Staff Reporter


Action-packed and full of plot-twists that have you wondering how you could’ve missed something so important (though most plot twists and something Kaz has planned and you just don’t know it yet) “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo has it all. A heist plotline that shakes up everything our main characters know about their world, well-written diverse characters (one that make you wonder how Malyen Orsetev even exists) full of depth-ones that seem so real they might walk off the page—and a whole new world of magic and laws about how the universe works, though some laws end up being broken, after all our main characters are criminals. This book deserves its 19/20 rating. This is the fourth book set within Bardugo’s fantasy universe (otherwise known as the Grishaverse, which spans from her first trilogy, Shadow and Bone through the her second duology, King of Scars and several other mini stories.) If you prefer listening to audio books instead of reading there are plenty of wonderful versions of  “Six of Crows” out there and if you like to watch movies, it’s also being made into a TV show on Netflix which as of the 7th of June, 2021, has been renewed for a season two. As far as book adaptations go, it’s a pretty accurate one. 

“Six of Crows” deserves its 19/20 rating. The worldbuilding is amazing and it gets all 5/5 in the world building/setting category. It’s well thought out and developed. It has different types of government in different countries. The first trilogy in Bardugo’s fantasy world takes place in Ravka which is essentially fantasy Russia but this series takes place in Kerch—which is loosely based of the 18th century Dutch Republic but it kind of reminds me of New York City without technology and is a completely different environment from Ravka and the country and how it works is completely different. All the governments are. People from different countries speak languages that we actually get to read being spoken and it’s not just implied. Not everyone just speaks English—or the main language in the book since it’s not technically English, we just read it in English and that makes it feel real. It even has different types of drinks and food and types of things that are better than others, no one eats or drinks the same thing. And while that might seem like a small detail, it happens a lot in literature that takes place in a different world and it’s kind of unrealistic when you think about it. Not everyone is going to drink the same type of wine or eat the same two things. Life doesn’t work that way and it’s the small things like that that make it feel real. 

The plot gets a 4/5 in its category. “Six of Crows” starts off with the now iconic line, “Kaz Brekker didn’t need a reason.” And the rest of the book continues with beautiful prose that might just break your heart, such as the line, “better terrible truths than kind lies,” and “I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all,” or the fan favorite line, “My ghost won’t associate with your ghost.” The plot twists though, are what make “Six of Crows” so memorable; Bardugo isn’t afraid to take risks in her writing. Kaz’s street smarts combined with Jesper’s intelligence are incredible, and Kaz is always manipulating everything and everyone around him to suit his plans. Everything the reader doesn’t see coming, Kaz already has and half the time, it’s his plan and everyone is just along for the ride. If you’ve read the Shadow and Bone trilogy the terminology in this book will make perfect sense but if you haven’t, you catch on very quickly. The book starts off kind of slow—which is why it isn’t a five out of five because you kind of have to force yourself to read the first few chapters—but by the end of the third chapter things are moving along and everything falls into place. The book follows the six main characters, Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Nina, Matthias and Wylan as they try to break into the most secure building in the world, Fjerda’s Ice Court to get a scientist who created the world’s most dangerous drug, that in the wrong hands could hurt a lot of people. If they succeed, they each get three million kruge which is a type of money in this world. Three million kruge is about forty-three million U.S. dollars which is a lot of money. It’s a heist book that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The characters are my favorite part of the book and they deserve all 5/5 points in that category and more. All of the main characters come from very different places and have had very different experiences and they all have different plans for the money they get and each plan gives you a glimpse inside their heads. Kaz would be one step closer to his revenge. Inej can buy her freedom and see her family again. Jesper could pay off his debt and make sure his father’s farm is okay. Nina can go back home to her friends and family. Matthias can rejoin his country’s army. And no one really knows the full story of what Wylan wants to do, but everyone has their guesses. They all have different personalities that can work well together and sometimes can lead to arguments. Kaz always needs to be in control and even when he’s furious, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep that control. Inej has a quiet strength, she knows exactly who she wants to be and she’s kind. Jesper has a happy go lucky attitude and he’s a. Nina is loud, confident and willing to do whatever it takes. Matthias is loyal and always wants to do the right thing—it’s just his ideas of what the right thing is that are the problem. All of them have their different aspects of personality that make it feel real and while “Six of Crows” is a plot based-book, its characters are what make it as great as it is. 

The conflicts in this book are brilliant and deserve a 5/5 in this category. The main conflict is obviously them trying to break into the Ice Court and break a prisoner out and having to work together to do that and it’s done brilliantly. We get to see how different personalities work well together and how they rub off each other the wrong way and it feels natural. Each of the characters has an eternal conflict that sometimes makes it hard to work together and it shows how while they are sort of a team, they all want different things out of this. The eternal conflicts are really cool by themselves as well. It explains why all of them are willingly to sign up for something that’s almost guaranteed to be a death sentence and what they’ll do for things they love.

One of my favorite things about this book is how it’s not stereotypical. It’s characters are well-written, compelling and they have plenty of depth. Their actions feel like something they would do and you forget that someone is writing this and they aren’t real people. They all have different quirks and mindsets and none of them are full of stereotypes you find when reading Y.A books that tried to have diversity and failed. Something I like is how none of their trauma or actions are ever romanticized, something that’s incredibly common in YA books. All of their trauma is well written and they all grow and heal from it and it feels real. It’s not forced or left feeling unresolved. I’m starting to think that my standards for Y.A. fantasy books are a little low because a lot of this is stuff you’d expect to find in a book but I rarely find it. Six of Crows is a great example of how to write trauma, relationships and morally grey characters that are held accountable. 

I also love the morally gray characters in this book and how they are written. Nothing they do is romanticized and they are held accountable for the bad things they do. For example Matthias grew up in a dictatorship government and he was taught the wrong things and did terrible things and even though he changes and tries to make amends, he’s still held accountable for the harm he did. Or Kaz who’s one of the only characters I’ve found who has a well-written tragic backstory and even though his trauma is the reason he does so many bad things, it’s not used as an excuse. And I know I’ve seen that a lot and I’m sure I’m not alone. There’s some controversy about how the characters seem way too old to be teenagers but I think they are the perfect age. The adults who write those reviews forget they’re reading about traumatized characters who have been forced to grow up and mature to survive in the world they live in, of course they’re not going to act like normal sixteen year olds. But it’s written in a way that makes sense so here, teenagers saving the world could be believable.

If you read and enjoyed the Shadow and Bone trilogy, The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, or The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, you’ll definitely like  Six of Crows. All of these books take place in a completely different world from our own with its own sets of rules, laws and way of life. It expands upon Bardugo’s first trilogy, Shadow and Bone and it takes the worldbuilding foundations and rules she already wrote and shows you what it looks like in other countries, with mentions of old favorite characters and new characters and new challenges that hook the reader. If you’ve read the Shadow and Bone trilogy the terminology in this book will make perfect sense but if you haven’t, you catch on very quickly. 

All in all, “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo is a great book that you won’t be able to put down. It has a great plot, characters and worldbuilding. It’s pretty much fast paced and engaging, it has high stakes and brilliant plot twists, characters you want to win and characters you want to fall off a cliff. The worldbuilding goes above and beyond what we’ve already seen in the Shadow and Bone trilogy. It’s certainly deserving of its nineteen out of twenty rating.