Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

This book is set in the same universe as Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, which I haven’t read yet because I’ve heard from friends that it isn’t as good as Six of Crows—I was a bit apprehensive about reading this before reading the Grisha Trilogy for fear of getting confused, but I was fine.

This book is amazing, and I’m incredibly excited about the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, which is due for release this September: it’s about Kaz Brekker, criminal prodigy, and his crew, who are offered millions if they manage to pull off a near-impossible heist. They have to break into the Ice Court, which is supposed to be impossible to breach, and rescue a prisoner who
holds the secret to “jurda parem”, a dangerous drug, to stop it getting into the wrong hands—and the job’s been given to this group of teenage criminals. It’s told through the third perspective point-of-view of each of the characters, and usually this kind of switching gets irritating but it was brilliantly done—each character had their own backstory and you grow to love all of them. There’s Kaz, the sort-of leader, whose backstory is heartbreaking—he’s snarky and closed off and awful and a brilliant thief; Inej, his thief of secrets, the level-headed fighter; Jesper, the sharpshooter; Wylan, the runaway; Nina, the Heartrender, sassy and brilliant; and Matthias, the ex-soldier, straight from prison. The way the characters develop and grow together is brilliant. They’re pretty diverse, which is another plus point, and they all mesh together really well; the
writing is really good, too. The first chapter is a little slow, but after that it goes straight into one of the best scenes in the book.

The one thing that annoyed me about Six of Crows is how the author tried to pair off all the characters into couples: what romance there was felt really forced and unnecessary, and the way the book ended has me kind of worried that the next book will focus too much on the characters’ relationships rather than the actual plot, which is what made this book shine. Apart from that, though, it was incredible!

 

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

This book is one of my new favourites—I love it, I love the concept and it’s executed beautifully.

It’s about an alternate universe where there are four parallel Londons and the protagonist, Kell, is one of the last two remaining magicians who can travel between them. He’s officially the ambassador of Red London, carrying correspondence between worlds, but unofficially he also smuggles items between worlds, and while in Grey London he ends up being given a stone that came from Black London: the dead world, the only world Kell’s never visited. He also encounters a girl, Lila, who is stubborn and amazing and one of my favorite characters ever—and Kell ends up bringing both the stone and Lila back to Red London. Chaos ensues and Kell and Lila travel across worlds, are nearly killed on several occasions, and somehow have to save the world (and themselves).

It sounds ridiculously cheesy but it’s so well written and by the end you’re incredibly invested in all the characters—even the antagonists are really well rounded as characters and the different Londons are so clearly differentiated between that it’s not confusing at all. I’ve reread this book countless times since I first read it and I would definitely recommend it to everyone! 

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