Six of Crows
Teen & Young Adult
Recommended by: Ivy
Six of Crows has been described as a “fantasy Oceans Eleven,” which is pretty on-target. It does operate within the broader trope of “ragtag group of misfits/thieves band together to pull off one last great heist,” for certain. But where this book shines is in Bardugo’s ability to build a world and populate it with characters that you become immediately attached to in spite of the fact that each represents a trope or stereotype you’ve seen a million times before.
Kaz Brekker leads The Dregs, an organized crime syndicate that while seemingly mocked by the other, similar groups in the fictional city of Ketterdam (think Berlin or Prague), seems to have a lot of power. His group includes Inej, the “wraith”, an escaped slave who becomes an awesome ninja, Jesper, a sharpshooter with a gambling problem, and Nina, a Grisha (Bardugo’s version of a witch, as seen in her other work like Shadow and Bone). He adds on Matthias, an ex-witch killer who has a history with Nina, and Wylan, the son of the rich merchant that they are working for.
These characters, as first blush, might seem one dimensional: a sneaky murder girl! A big brute guy who hates everyone! A deus-ex-machina-level-smart trickster and thief! But as the book goes on, each is shown to be unique, diverse. Their cultural backgrounds are not ignored, and the characters are fleshed out by their abilities, relationships, and backgrounds.
Like with any good heist story, there’s a lot of moving parts at work here, and Bardugo juggles them well. It’s difficult to create a 400+ page book that feels like it ends too fast, and Six of Crows definitely had me quickly clamoring for its upcoming sequel. I'd recommend this book for teen ages 16+ (or adults who love good, fun fantasy!)