[Review] Six Of Crows — Leigh Bardugo


Book Title                 Six of Crows (Six of Crows #01)
Author:                        Leigh Bardugo
Number of pages:  465


Leigh Bardugo - Six of Crows - Book CoverKetterdam: 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… Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

(re: Goodreads @ Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:

–  Come for the heist, stay for the characters. Five alternating POVs with witty banter, slow burn romance, and plenty of dissonance
– Two primary settings: a gritty merchant port with gangs, bars and speakeasies + a prison atop a frozen landscape; incorporates the high fantasy of the Grishaverse
– Voices are distinct and everyone has their own motivations (no pawns for pawns sake)
– There are Easter eggs for those who’ve read The Grisha trilogy. The learning curve isn’t steep for those who haven’t read her other series

Initial Thoughts




The Dregs are one of many gangs vying for turf on the merchant port of Ketterdam. When a dangerous drug surfaces, buyers learn its secret are locked away in Fjerda’s Ice Court in an enigma going by Bo Yul-Bayur. Interested parties from all over the world gleam with the hope of riches. For Kaz “Dirtyhands” Brekker, this is his shot at getting back at an old adversary but he can’t pull off the heist alone; he’ll assemble The Six of Crows.


The Grishaverse is utterly robust.

It travels from grit and grime to stark whiteness blanketing the tundra biome in The Ice Court and the sense of peril remains consistent throughout. The scope of the world and its storytelling—when compared to The Grisha trilogy—is vastly different despite the trail of Easter eggs Bardugo leaves for readers of the Grisha series  (LIKE ANYTHING ABOUT A EMERALD? FUUUUHHH).

I’ll be upfront and say that you do not need to have read the Grisha trilogy prior to reading Six of Crows. It may help to give substance but the learning curve to understand the magically adept isn’t steep at all. Moreover, it delves into unexplored territory (ish) not covered in the initial trilogy.

Ketterdam: think of your dirtiest neighbourhood, slap on a harbour, add gambling halls and speakeasies, mix in a gang or two (or a dozen), add political intrigue in merchants and governing bodies and boom—home sweet home.

Frejda (or The Ice Court): a high security prison plus castle-ish with plenty of artillery behind stone-and-gated walls. It’s also very cold.

I can’t even begin picking apart what could have been “bad” about it. Yeah things came pretty easy with incompetent baddies protecting a prison but that just extends to the character’s competency, right? I cannot think of what else really stood out that was negative.


I’m just going to put this out there: her [Bardugo’s] storytelling in Six of Crows is infinitely better.

A problem that often surfaces with multi-POV narrating is that there’s a clear protagonist and other perspectives simply run into spears for their Chosen One. While it’s true that Kaz leads his crew down the rabbit hole, there is a clear motivation for those who tag along and the use of multiple narrators is justified as the focus tangents from voice to another as the story paces along. It’s awesome to see one moment through different eyes (because all actions matter). The dynamic between characters is really the selling point of Six of Crows; transitioning a plot-heavy story to one that is character-driven. 

I felt like I needed that Wylan perspective to round things out (I was lowkey flipping the chapters thinking “THIS IS IT, THIS WILL BE WYLA–nope”). Give me that, second book.

I really appreciated that this story was grounded in rational decision in the face of adversity and unknowns rather than putting plot over romance. Just think back on Alina in The Grisha trilogy. You laugh, I laugh, but it happened. There isn’t any of that wishy-washy antic and my goodness is that relieving. I mean, yeah there’s [a slow burn] romance but it doesn’t eclipse the focus of what’s trying to be achieved.

That being said, I buddy read Six of Crows with Jenna @ Reading With Jenna and Jesse @ Books At Dawn and let me just say that I theorized the twist early on but the writing was so well executed that it didn’t dilute the story for what it was.


Among the six-person ensemble, you get five distinct voices. Of the bunch, ranked from fave-to-least: Jesper Fahey, Kaz Brekker, Nina Zenik, Inej Ghafa, Matthias Helvar, and Wylan Van Eck (mainly because he wasn’t given his own POV). Everyone raves about cutthroat Kaz or Inej and her badassery but Jesper tops the list for me—and I’ll fight you on that.

I’ve seen comments tag Jesper as the comic relief as if that’s his only role but he’s much more than his wit. How? I’d argue that he’s the most accessible character because he’s built from the attributes of others; like a chameleon but…Jesper. It’s what makes his bantering so seamless. What stood out is his eagerness to be satisfactory without being cumbersome and his haunting existential crisis. Here’s a character who’s a University dropout (basically), has a shit ton of debt, and lacks a clear focus as to his purpose and identity. If that doesn’t evoke a pliable 21st century character then I don’t know what to think.

His relationship with Inej: effortless.

His relationship with Wylan: nuanced.

While I’m sure Bardugo has already decided Jesper’s path in the upcoming novel, Crooked Kingdom, the possibility of him being players of both teams is there and she has yet to shy away from the LGBTQIA spectrum in her previous trilogy. So kudos to that and to the diversity in the other characters.


I flail, you [will] flail, we all flail.

Bardugo’s Six of Crows may be a story about a heist but the melding character dynamics is what makes this read an experience. Soon, you’ll be wanting to be part of the Dregs. I’m serious.

I should also remind you of this moment:



If you’ve read it, tell me who your favourite member was!


connect: afterthoughtAn // twitter  |  anotherafterthought // goodreads



34 thoughts on “[Review] Six Of Crows — Leigh Bardugo”

  1. I just ordered this book, glad to hear great things. Your review told me everything I wanted (and didn’t know I needed) to know, it was great. Haha, it’s awesome you got to meet her, you seem delighted 🙂


  2. So much better than the Grisha trilogy!! So true! I usually have a favorite character and like to read from certain POVs with this type of story but I loved all the characters equally.


  3. This was already on my TBR, but now I want it even more! I’ll admit I was thinking I should finish the Grisha trilogy first, but I seem to be continously forgetting the plot of the first one. You seem so happy about this book being better though, I might move straight onto this! 🙂


    1. You can definitely read Six of Crows without having read Grisha but in doing so, you may be spoiling yourself to what actually happens in the Grisha trilogy.

      Although it’s a completely differnet plotline and setting in the Grishaverse, what it comes down to is you might not having the willpower to go back to the trilogy after knowing how it ends. Kinda like how I can’t read Harry Potter (I didn’t finish the books) after watching the movies. If that makes sense LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This must be one of the highest rated reviews you’ve done this year! But really, this book looks so good. I must pick it up soon. There’s just this part of me that remembers the slight Grisha disappointment but I’ll have to get passed it so I can join the masses.


    1. LOL Was that an offhanded way of telling me I’m a harsh critic, Liam?

      I read this book a month after finishing Grisha and it literally blew it’s predecessor out of the water. (Well maybe not Nikolai feels but still.) You’ll understand if/when you read it!


  5. I feel like Inej is my soul sister and Kaz is my beautiful tortured soul who deserves some happiness in his life. Although I will admit that I have a soft spot for Jesper and I hope we get to explore more of his character in Crooked Kingdom.
    I love the multiple narrative because it added to that tension and unpredictability when it came to the characters motives.
    Not going to lie, I’m slightly jealous you got to meet her but that heart frame is adorable. 😉


    1. Okay, honest hour: I feel like someone in the main cast has to die in Crooked Kingdom. I’ll let that sink in and let you theorize who it could be.

      I think what I appreciated the most is that if you removed the chapter narrator labels, I’m 90% sure I could tell who’s head I was in. Can’t say that for a lot of other 2+ POV stories.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ssssh. I’ve wondered about a possible death but I am too emotionally invested in these characters so that thought is stashed away in my bubble of denial. If anything happens to Kaz or Inej I don’t know how I’d cope. Which character do you see being killed off?


  6. I have this wonderful feeling I’m going to love this book so much. By the way, were you able to get the black pages edition? It’s so beautiful! I literally have the book inverted on my black books shelf because it looks so cool!


    1. I did get the black pages edition! (I didn’t know there was any other edition..?)

      WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR SUMMER. Hype brought me this book and I can confirm that I was not wronged by it. There is NO one close to Malyen in uselessness in SoC or wishy-washy like Alina. So there’s that.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is part of my December Book Haul and I’m planning on reading it next month. I’ve heard a lot of great things about it and hopefully, I would love it as you do. I really didn’t like The Grisha Trilogy, though. (<—- Infamous opinion) but, hey! Every book is worth a shot! Haha! Great review, btw! 😀


      1. I will join you. If Six of Crows doesn’t get to my favourites I’ll probably be stunned too. Hopefully I enjoy it! Oh yes, Ness is just the best. I love your rhyming in that sentence!
        I can’t wait to buy and read it.


  8. Ahhh. I love SOC. It’s so amazing. And I met Leigh too. She’s so cute and funny. Jesper is pretty cool. I also want more Wylan. There isn’t enough of him. And he’s totally cool. I want moooree.
    I can’t wait for the next book!


  9. My fave is definitely Jesper, not just because of the representation, but I just want him to be okay. I ended up preordering Crooked Kingdom in February, and I need it immediately.


  10. I realize this review is like a bazillion years old, but I will read all the reviews on SoC/CK and no one will stop me. Your review was amazing, analysis spot on, and it pointed out SO many things I missed in the book. I feel like I need to reread it all over again. I digress, I did think of Jesper more as comic relief in the first book, but he definitely plays a larger role in CK.


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