After being double-crossed by rich merchant Jan van Eck at the end of Six of Crows, Kaz Brekker and his crew are more determined than ever to get the money they are owed—and their revenge. There are other forces in play, however, and the first attempt to best Van Eck crumbles in the face of rival gang interference, dangerous winged soldiers and a mysterious mercenary. Furthermore, something is hunting the Grisha of Ketterdam, putting Nina and Jesper in extra danger and inspiring Nina to insist on a Grisha rescue mission in tandem with the plot against Van Eck. In this epic novel, the young outlaws Kaz, Nina, Inej, Jesper, Matthias and Wylan must pull off one more major scheme, this time with all of Ketterdam—from the government to the gangs—aligned against them.
In contrast to the previous installment, Leigh Bardugo strikes a better balance between her characters’ ruthless determination and their youthful insecurities. Parental relationships—both in the main plot and in backstory—add welcome depth to the characters Inej, Jesper and Wylan. Jesper and Wylan also shine brightly in their romantic scenes. Bardugo maintains her excellent knack for writing tense passages. Moments such as Inej’s high-wire break-in are particularly gripping, sprinkled with beautifully written backstory in between the wonderfully nerve-wracking descriptions of walking the wire. Just as violent and thrilling as Six of Crows but tempered with more mature, quiet moments, Crooked Kingdom is an immensely satisfying follow-up.