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Book Review: Crooked Kingdom

Leigh Bardugo definitely notches up her writing game with the Six of Crows duology. Crooked Kingdom is the sequel to Six of Crows and the fifth book in the Grishaverse. In this installment, Kaz Brekker and his band of thieves and thugs conclude their grand heist, which began in Six of Crows.

Character Development

The story arcs of Kaz and Inej, the Suli assassin indebted to him were just beautiful here. Fans of Kaz-Inej relationship will be very happy. Nina Zenik played a smaller part in this book in comparison to Six of Crows, but that’s alright because in the next duology (book 6 and 7 of Grishaverse), she is HUGE. Like larger than life. In this book however, well. Let’s just say I know all too well the horrors she has to go through in Crooked Kingdom. Enough said or it will spoil the ending.

I think that Jesper’s character was developed very well and brought to a nice ripe growth, especially with the appearance of someone special to him. Jesper started off as someone unwilling to face his true identity. He masked sorrows with a huge addiction to gambling and adrenaline. Through his adventures in Crooked Kingdom, however, he is able to somewhat come to terms with himself. I can almost smell future development for Jesper! What will a bright energetic person like Jesper be able to pull off once he has fully acknowledged his strengths and weaknesses? I can’t wait to see.

Full of Deceit and Trickery

With a grand heist, layers of deception from the antagonists and the protagonists (read: Kaz Brekker’s schemes), Crooked Kingdom can honestly be a bit tricky. Leigh Bardugo also employs a lot of flashbacks to flesh out the backstory of her characters, which I loved. I really enjoyed getting to know them better. However, I wonder if there is another way to pull this off so that it’s not so confusing to the main plot. I can see it working extremely well in movie format though. And I’ve heard rumors of a Six of Crows spinoff by Netflix…

I also must mention that as much as I enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s poetic writing, I feel sometimes it got bit carried away. As a result, some descriptions were a bit unclear for me because it went into the realm of poetry instead of being crisp and clear about what was going on.

All in all, I loved Six of Crows duology – so much that I even wrote a fanfic of it! Check out my Six of Crows fanfic ,told from Jesper’s point of view.

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Book Review: Six of Crows

Six of Crows duology consists of Six of Crows and its sequel Crooked Kingdom. Both books take place in the Grisha Universe (the fans know it as Grishaverse) created by Leigh Bardugo. The original trilogy, Shadow and Bone, is now a hit Netflix series which was excellently done. Having watched the first season and read the original trilogy, I recommend just watching the Netflix version. HOWEVER.

“No mourners. No funerals.”

six of crows

When it comes to Six of Crows, this is a definite must read. While the original trilogy takes place largely in Ravka, Six of Crows centers around Kerch – an island country built on trade and commerce. In a setting where everything is regulated by its price in the market, our criminal heroes rise from the slums to grandiose glory.

The Gang of Misfits

Okay, not quite. At least, not YET in Six of Crows. Six misfits and rejects, suffering various traumas, gather together under the command of the ultimate bad boy / gang leader Kaz Brekker. What is so special about Kaz is that he is a cripple. But don’t underestimate his cane because it might just very well crush your head. Kaz’s love interest and second-in-command is Inej Ghafa. Inej is an acrobat turned slave-whore because she was stolen from her family by slavers and sold into the Menagerie, an elite whore house in Ketterdam. Kaz pays off her debts and recruits her to be his Wraith (secret intelligence aka information gatherer) slash assassin. Their relationship is one of the most interesting couple relationships in fantasy, because of the traumas they have gone through.

Jesper Fahey, an excellent shooter and horrible gambler is the third in their crew. Hailing from the farmlands of Novyi Zem, Jesper is embroiled in gambling debt. He desperately needs the money from a grand heist the crew has been hired to do. For this grand heist, Kaz recruits the remaining three: Nina Zenik, Matthias Helvar, and Wylan. If you’re starting to think Ocean’s Eleven, YES. That’s the vibe, but with a lot of Grishas involved.

One of the most dangerous Grisha ever is indeed Nina Zenik, a Heartrender (Grisha who can manipulate heart pressure in humans) who just happens to be in love with Matthias, a Fjerdan who hunts Grisha for a living. Obviously their relationship is tricky, to say the least. Half the time they are trying to kill each other, and the other half of the time they are saving each other. Wylan, the last addition to their crew, starts off being rather dull, but slowly grows in importance throughout the book (can’t say more or it will be a spoiler).

The Relationships

As much as this book is centered around the grand heist that this crew has been hired to pull off, it is also about their relationships with each other and with themselves. All of the six have major life issues they have to deal with. In the course of their impossible task, they find themselves – and each other.

I’ve grown so attached to these characters that I wrote a Six of Crows fanfic! Enjoy my little take of these Ketterdam gangsters.

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How to Ditch a Party (Nikolai and Zoya Fanfic)

Warning: Adult! Mild Smut. Also Spoiler Alert for Rule of Wolves ending.

This Nikolai and Zoya fanfic is inspired by King of Scars Duology (from the Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo) Fanfic. Happens sometime after the events of Rule of Wolves.

Nikolai and Zoya are attending one of Count Kirigan’s famous parties.


“You were ravishing on the dance floor,” Nikolai said to Zoya after she finished a round with Count Kirigan. Their host kept glancing towards her with puppy dog eyes, practically begging for another dance. Zoya sighed. Count Kirigan was a valuable ally within the Ravka nobility, but everyone knew he was head over heels with the ex-general turned queen.

“Blame Genya. Can you believe this dress?” Zoya tugged annoyingly at the blood red material which hugged her upper body tightly, even while supporting a plunge to show off her gorgeous cleavage. Genya had embellished it with Fabrikated sequins made to look like dragon scales. From Zoya’s right thigh downwards the material parted completely, and when she twirled it was a smaller version of the dragon taking flight. She had high-heeled black boots that looked like it could sever some knees if pointed in the right direction. Zoya had considered pointing it in several directions tonight, but decided it was not the impression the newly crowned queen wanted to make at their precious ally’s party.

“I can believe it. That one tailor is always trying to torment me,” he chugged down his glittering drink even as he winked at a cluster of young women across the hall. They were pointing and giggling. Oh, he knew their gossips. Even when he was still King, there had been rumors about his relationship with Zoya. Now that she was Queen, Nikolai was known to be the one who serviced her needs at night. Well, he thought, might as well give them a show. He reached towards Zoya and lifted her up in his arms. If he was going to be known for his services, at least he could make sure they were sky-high.

Zoya threw him a flustered look, and for a moment Nikolai thought she would breath fire on him. But her eyes calmed and she leaned into his chest. “Get me out of here,” she murmured into his neck. Her voice sent pulses straight down to his groin, where he could feel the rising need.

“You’re the queen,” replied Nikolai charmingly, even as his breath was quickening in anticipation. Zoya bit his ear lightly, and his knees buckled.

“Don’t drop me, demon boy,” Zoya warned. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her breasts into his torso. She could feel her buds tightening, but it was not even close to enough. “Do I need to fly us out of here?”

“You would destroy the whole building in the process. And then we’d have no bed for tonight’s activities,” Nikolai calmly countered. He turned and began walking out of the ballroom. Nikolai could feel the eyes of every single Ravkan nobility following them. Good.

Understatement is overrated.


Honest question folks. Should I continue to the next scene in this Nikolai and Zoya fanfic, or stop here cuz tis suggestive enough? 😀

If you like this fanfic, try my Six of Crows fanfic from Jesper’s perspective!

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Jesper is Dangerously Bored (A Six of Crows Fan Fiction)

A Six of Crows Fan Fiction. Ketterdam is in a Covid-19 lockdown. Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Wylan, Nina, Matthias, and Kuwei are stuck in a secret two-story house that Kaz owns. Nina is still suffering the aftereffects of the jurda parem.


Jesper was going so mad, he was about to shoot himself. The government had just announced another lockdown due to the Delta variant spreading rabidly, turning the island of Ketterdam into a burning cauldron hotter than anything an Inferni could come up with.

Well, except maybe an Inferni on jurda parem. Which did not sound so bad at this moment, Jesper thought desperately. He was just about to go find Kuwei, the young Shu scientist, when Inej grabbed his arm. She caught him off-guard, as usual.

“Don’t even think about it,” Inej hissed. “Don’t you dare.”

“I’m already going mad, Wraith! I need action, adrenaline, or at least, a goat!”

“Look at Nina. She’s still struggling with the addiction! I’m not going to lose two friends to the drug!”

“You’ll get a dose of parem when I say you’ll get a dose. No sooner, no later,” the door barged open as Kaz, their fearless scheming leader, the Bastard of the Barrel, the crippled gangster, appeared in front of them. Matthias was closely behind him, pulling off the mask which looked small as it stretched across his broad face.

“Where have you been?” Jesper asked, annoyed. He never knew what to expect with Kaz.

Sure enough, Kaz surprised them by reaching into his bag and pulling out small bottles of vaccine. “Getting what we need,” he replied simply. Kaz didn’t bother taking off his mask. Jesper suspected Kaz rather liked wearing the black mask – it hid more of his expressions.

“I’m going to find Nina and give her the first shot. Her immunity system is so tampered after the parem, I don’t want any chance of her getting infected,” Matthias took a bottle, a syringe, and walked upstairs to Nina’s room.

“I don’t want my investment to get infected,” muttered Kaz, handing a bottle to Inej. She sighed in exasperation, taking it from his gloved hand. The slight touch sent ripples up and down both their bodies. Inej itched to reach out and peel Kaz’s mask off. Literally and figuratively.

Jesper saw Kaz and Inej tensing up, like they always did when they were near each other, and took his cue to leave. Jesper grabbed 3 vaccine doses and 3 syringes. One for himself, and the rest for Wylan and Kuwei. They were likely in the basement, experimenting with leaves and chemicals and who knew what else.

It was obvious something was off when Jesper entered the closed basement. The whole room was covered with hazy greenish gas, and it smelled like the king of durians. It wasn’t even durian season in the farmlands of Novyi Zem!

“What have you two been working on,” Jesper coughed, spotting their similar figure, hunched over various bowls and tubes. It was hard to tell them apart since Nina had done such a stellar job tailoring Wylan to look like Kuwei. They both looked up in surprise.

“A little of this and that. Sorry about the smell,” Kuwei answered sheepishly.

“Put these on,” Wylan’s voice sounded from the near identical figure closer to the door. He quickly handed a mask to Jesper.

It wasn’t much better with the mask on, but at least Jesper had stopped coughing. He showed them what he brought. “From Kaz.”

Kuwei nodded. “If this works, we might not need those brands.”

“What was that?”

The Shu boy shook his head. “Nevermind, nothing. Thanks for coming down here.”

Jesper lingered on, and for just a moment thought of asking Shu if he had just a bit of parem with him. Was Jesper really that desperate? It was this lockdown, driving him insane, pushing him to be even more reckless than usual. But then he thought of Nina upstairs, every inch of her skin hurting, as she battled against the pull of the addictive. He thought of Matthias sitting next to her in gutted worry.

And to Jesper’s surprise, his thoughts floated to Wylan, who was now eyeing him nervously.

Maybe there was something he-they could do after all, the Zemeni smiled slowly, naughtily. Teasing Wylan. Yes, that’s what Jesper would delightfully occupy his time with.


Hope you liked this Six of Crows fan fiction! I’ve also got some Lunar Chronicles fanfics for your enjoyment 😉

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Series Review: Shadow and Bone

The first season of Netflix Shadow and Bone, based on the trilogy by Leigh Bardugo has so many great things going for it. Warning: this review has tons of spoilers. With that, let’s unpack!

Worldbuilding

Fantastic! Plenty of lush scenes that will get you to buy in on this exquisite universe. Equipped with religious tie-ins, social strata, and historical tidbits, the Grishaverse appears solidly in front of the watchers. Costumes are fabulous, with special shout out to Alina’s various outfits: cartographer, Sun Summoner, saint / goddess-to-be, and runaway. Your eyes will be spoiled with summoning of the powers of the Grisha – some really cool visual effects happening there.

Casting and Characters

Jessie Mei Li gives just the right amount of vulnerability to Alina Starkov, the seemingly average girl who turns out to be able to summon light. This makes Alina one of the most powerful and coveted being in the world. That kind of rags to riches (in this case sainthood) hysterical contrast was portrayed convincingly. Archie Renaux as Mal Oretsev-Alina’s childhood friend and the tracker who finds the legendary stag is so charming! I have to say though, he was overshadowed (ha!) by Ben Barnes’ General Kirrigan, who has the power to call shadows and darkness.

I’ve heard that the love triangle between Alina Starkov, Mal, and the Darkling was a big thing in the books. In the Netflix series it was quite clear that Alina and Mal were head over heels for each other. The Darkling didn’t really have a chance.

The crows: Kaz, Inej, and Jesper

The crows: Kaz, Inej, and Jesper played by Freddy Carter, Amita Suman, and Kit Young? They steal the show. Honestly. This hilarious slash absolutely serious bunch of criminal masterminds will take your heart away from you, and then demand for you to pay an arm and a leg to get it back. Inej the Suli assassin who has all the knives and the skills (yet hesitate before taking a life!) is actually my favorite character in this whole series. What a gal. I mean, the moment when she stitches the wound on her own stomach because Kaz and Jesper were too queasy to do it? That’s girl power for you.

Plot

There seems to be 3 separate storylines happening, which can get confusing and is a lot of information to throw onto the watcher. That said, it motivated me to read the original trilogy. I’m still digesting my thoughts, and the book reviews will be up soon, but I think the Netflix version is making the plot much more interesting by combining the storylines.

With only 8 episodes, I finished Shadow and Bone in 2 days. I even re-watched the whole season LOL. Definitely a recommended series for lovers of fantasy. Oh, and the eerie soundtrack by composer Joseph Trapanese is a really nice touch.

If you like series like this, you might also enjoy His Dark Materials (HBO).