I love heist movies and adore clever criminals. I suspect many others like them too, or “Robin Hood” would not continue to be such a beloved tale. So when I read the blurb for Six of Crows and understood that it was a novel about a dangerous heist undertaken by six young, clever people, I knew I had to read it. The story is set in Ketterdam, a Scandinavian-flavor fantasy city complete with an active criminal element. Kaz Brekker is a criminal prodigy, and he has been asked to free a man from an impregnable prison. If he succeeds, he will be rich beyond his wildest dreams. And if he fails, he will likely be dead. Thankfully, Kaz is smart enough not to go it alone. Enter Nina, a girl with the magical power to stop someone’s heart; Inej, a gifted acrobat who goes by the name of the Wraith; Jesper, a skilled sharp-shooter with a gambling debt; Wylan, a demolitions expert with a highborn past; and Matthias, a convict in search of revenge. Together, they are the Six of Crows, and together, they are heading into trouble.
This is the first book of a new series, set in the same fantasy universe as Bardugo’s Grisha series. The magical elements of her other books are present here, but you do not have to read her other works before diving into this one. This book is darker in tone than her other titles, and the story focuses on action, not romance. The characters are all flawed, but in a way that makes them more likeable, more human. The pacing is fast, and the dialogue snappy. The story is told in the shifting points of view of the Crows themselves, in a style you more often see in epic fantasy. Yet, epic fantasy may have more than one story unfolding in the different points of view, and with Six of Crows, you have one continuous story told from many angles. I found the storytelling style to be original, but a little off-putting, at least to start. Once I knew enough about the characters, the fast flow of the story started me flipping the pages like mad. This is an excellent start to a new young adult series, one that can be enjoyed by adults as well.