Being marketed as Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven, Six of Crows sports the novel idea of a heist caper set in a high fantasy world. It has much more going for it than just a nifty premise, however, as Leigh Bardugo’s writing is filled with snappy dialogue and memorable turns of phrase - and her world building is second to none. As opposed to the Tsarist Russia influence on her previous books, the Grisha trilogy, Kaz’s home of Ketterdam is like Victorian London crossed with Amsterdam, with dodgy dealings and danger lurking around every corner.
Speaking of the Grisha books, Six of Crows is something of a companion to those, as it is set elsewhere in the same world. Despite this, it is perfectly possible to thoroughly enjoy it without having read the other series. That said, it wouldn’t hurt to know something about this world and its peoples and politics before going in.
If some of the terms go over your head at first, though, the book is populated with a bunch of compelling fresh characters to latch onto. A novel like this hinges on the success of its cast of rogues, and Six of Crows soars thanks to the well-roundedness of Kaz and his crew. Over the course of the story, we get increasingly under their skin as we follow them through the direst of situations and witness romantic attachments develop. You really are sad to let these guys go by the end. Fortunately, there is the promise of more to come, with a sequel titled Crooked Kingdom already confirmed.
Whether you are a fan of anti-heroes, character-driven fantasy or heist stories, you need to get hold of Six of Crows. It is simply a stunning novel that succeeds in just about everything it aims to do, as the whole operation is crafted with a lot of care and a deft (and occasional sleight of) hand. Just as a good heist should be.SIX OF CROWS / AUTHOR: LEIGH BARDUGO / PUBLISHER: ORION CHILDREN’S BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW