I was intrigued by this book, which is basically described as the story of Aladdin with a female genie. I am of an age where Disney’s Aladdin was one of the first movies I saw in theaters, so I have a pretty strong imprint of the story. When I read the sample on my ereader, I was kind of shocked by how good the writing was and how clearly defined and strong the main character is. Once I got into the book, I was totally impressed by the tightness of the story, the definition and (fictional) believability of the characters, the completeness of the world. I didn’t feel like I had a lot of questions after finishing it, all of my what-abouts and what-happend-tos were gathered in and I was just SO happy reading this book. I also really love fantasy that gets outside medieval Europe/inside POC primary characters, so this rang all my bells. It has gone onto my “wanted in hardcopy” list (mine was from the library). So, it is “Aladdin retelling with a girl gene” but also so much more. And I am certainly planning on getting my hands/brain on some more of Jessica Khoury’s books.
I was tootling along fine until Nina and Matthias really got going with their story, somewhere along in the prison where the crew are collecting up one of their members, I was hooked. I picked this book up because of the hype and the Booktube SFF Awards (link: ). I had read Bardugo’s first book, Smoke and Bone, a year and a half ago with a bit of disappointment. It fell into too many YA tropes for me, but I loved the idea, the Russian-based fantasy setting, and Bardugo’s short stories, but S&B didn’t work for me. Six of Crows got a lot of attention last year and I wasn’t interested based on my previous experience. But, I had heard so many people say they were lukewarm on the Grisha Trilogy, but loved Six of Crows, so I thought I would give it a go.
I am still having slight book hangover from this book, and am trying to convince my husband and brother to read it. Bardugo’s characters are each well-rounded, though there are six of them, and the heist plans were fun. A heist always has something that seems to go wrong but is right, while this one also had parts that went legitimately wrong, and I had no idea which were which. The romances were sweet and relevant to the plot, the action was exciting, the characters complex and smart, and I loved it. I already pre-ordered the second one (which is $10 right now?!)
This was my most anticipated book of the year, one that I used my birthday money to pre-order six months in advance. It required a little actual willpower to not pick it up as soon as I saw it sitting on the doorstep, but I did stay up reading WAAAAAY too late on Tuesday night. I loved it so much, I embraced the tired the next day.
Rutkoski’s writing is deliberate and focused, and I had forgotten how this series made me feel while reading, tight in the chest with partially held breath and my heart in my throat. I love the way Kestrel and Arin were and weren’t the same people as the earlier books, they had clearly grown and changed. Also, I was so pleased that they FINALLY had those conversations about their feelings and each other; miscommunication and misunderstanding as romantic literary devices get old pretty quickly.
*SPOILERS* I loved the Kestrel had to rebuild herself and work out who she wanted to be as she remembered herself, and I also particularly loved that she had to deal with the serious hurt that was her betrayal by her father. None of this fantasy “parents, bah,” waving them away, or just going on as before after a big loss. Although I wasn’t totally into Arin having to save Kestrel from the sulphur mine, but I guess Rutkoski wanted to focus on the other parts of the story, like Kestrel’s amnesia and drug addition which meant that she needed something else to help her out of prison. *SPOILERS*
I totally recommend this series. It’s one of the best YA series I’ve read, and I am including the beautiful writing and deep characterization here. It’s a lovely series.