Caper-lovers will enjoy this fresh fantasy book
I just love a good heist plot. When each of the Ocean’s Trilogy movies came out, I was ecstatic. I love the thrill of anticipation watching the planning phase, the unbearable suspense as the crew is finally pulling off the job, and the noticeable feeling of relief and satisfaction when they escape not only with their lives, but also a good haul.
Those feelings are harder to replicate in print form. Written tension is much more difficult to create than visual, which is why I was so impressed with “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo. Not only did she recreate the pacing and electric atmosphere of a great heist movie, she also wove in brilliant character studies along the way. Set in the same world as her fantasy- adventure Grisha trilogy – which started with the fantastic “Shadow and Bone” – it is completely separate both in tone and characters, so the reading of the other trilogy is not a requirement.
Set in a fantastical version of the Russian tundra, “Six of Crows” introduces our six main characters one by one, giving us a chapter written from each of their perspectives. There’s Kaz Brekker, the ruthless gang leader whose nickname “Dirty Hands” fits his life of thievery and deception. He runs an establishment called the Crow Club and carries a cane with a menacingly detailed crow’s head. He is given an impossible job – to steal a human rather than a stash of gold from the most impenetrable place on earth, the Ice Court.
The level of difficulty is matched only by the reward – the promise of 20 million, split six ways. He first thinks to bring two members of his already established gang: Jesper, the sharpshooter with a gambling problem, and Inej, the exotic secret stealer and acrobat. Then he drops in on Nina, a Grisha, or person with the ability to control either the elements or human bodies. Mina can slow people’s hearts, heal their wounds, and render a man unconscious just by raising her hands. She is invaluable – but she will only come if Kaz first breaks out the man she loves, Matthias Helvar. So they have to plan a heist before they even start the real job. And Kaz is much too smart not to take along a little insurance, so he grabs the son of the very man who put him up to the job under the thin guise that he needs “a demolition expert.” They are a band of misfits up against impossible odds, ready to pull off the greatest job in histor y – if they don’t kill each other first.
Whether it’s amazing worldbuilding you love, a great heist plot or just fantastic characters with layers of intricacy, this book is for you. I actually listened to it in my car, which enhanced the writing because it gave each character a voice in my head, and the narrators they chose were phenomenal. I was engaged from minute one and always trying to figure out the con – just how in the world were they going to pull this off? And seeing the backstories of each unfold as the chapters went on only made you love and cheer for them more. It’s an unexpected gem that I can’t recommend highly enough.
Jill Cluff is a sometimes librarian who is married to one giant and mom to two boys. She loves all things book- and food- related – often at the same time.