Deceptively likable criminals steal hearts in ‘Crooked Kingdom’

'Crooked Kingdom' by Leigh Bardugo was released on Sept. 27th, concluding the Six of Crows duology.

Image: Elizabeth Tammi

‘Crooked Kingdom’ by Leigh Bardugo was released on Sept. 27th, concluding the Six of Crows duology.

Elizabeth Tammi, Contributing Writer

The streets of Ketterdam are plagued by crime and debauchery, and no one knows how to control them better than Kaz Brekker.

After Kaz gathers a group of six delinquents off the street, they manage to pull off a harrowing heist, but when the gang is double-crossed at the last instant, they’re forced to raise the stakes by engaging in an elaborate sting operation.

With rivals closing in on the city and a crucial member kidnapped, the group sets to work on their intricate swindles and ploys, and Ketterdam will never be the same again.

Leigh Bardugo’s novel “Crooked Kingdom” is the second and final installment in the Six of Crows duology. Released after a long year of waiting, I’m glad to say the highly anticipated conclusion lived up to all those months of theorizing.

The characters are as cunning as they are likable, and despite their criminal tendencies, the plot is reliant upon their surprisingly genuine motivations and desires.

A lot of work was put into making sure they’re as believable and detailed as possible, because the book itself is solely the story of their masterful moves in a dangerous game. Their added bits of development and humanity contribute much-needed authenticity to an extremely dark and methodical story.

The fate of their friends and city are constantly hovering above them, and the desperation brings them to daring heights — literally.

‘Crooked Kingdom’ is rampant with escapades, thievery and heart-stopping action that brings every member of the gang into contact with their worst fears and darkest nightmares. It’s when they learn to utilize the darkness that they become a force of unstoppable wit and danger. 

The entire book, over 500 pages long, consists of the elaborate thefts and scandalous operations the crew concocts. For the most part, this means page-turning excitement; alternately, it was sometimes bordering on tedious.

This is when the enormity of the characters’ importance plays a crucial part in the overall entertainment value of the book.

The heaviness of the plot contrasts splendidly with the easy adoration the characters are worthy recipients of, and it’s their developments and realizations that will stick with me for a long time.

Admittedly, there’s a couple important moments within the story that I feel could have been lengthened and underscored, but they remain undoubtedly effective.

It’s all worth it by the end. Composed of careful crimes leading to a grand finale, this story brings an enormously satisfying conclusion into a terrifying world that rarely sees a smile.

But nothing comes without consequence and the price of their victory is steep. Despite their heartbreak, the deceptively relatable characters leave as better versions of themselves than the criminals they were. 

“Crooked Kingdom” delves into the fantastical and the criminal, but at its core remains a deeply universal tale of discovering love and overcoming hatred.