Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

sixofcrows_leighbardugoIn the dark, murky alleyways of the merchant town of Ketterdam, a story begins to unfold with a crazy team and a perilous heist.  And, it all starts out in one of the biggest gangs, the Dregs.  Kaz Brekker, a cripple and the head of the Barrel, the hangout of the Dregs, is back at it again.  He receives an offer from Van Eck, a powerful merchant, describing a mission to kidnap a certain scientist.  And, not being able to resist the pile of money, he starts to pick out his team.

First, there is Inej, a young woman who has been traded in trafficking but whose freedom has been purchased.  Now, she serves as The Wraith, a great climber and spy.  And, though she is the right-hand (wo)man to Kaz, there may be other reasons she is joining the mission.  Inej’s character reminds me of the song, “Selecter” from James Bond.  The whole mood and rhythm of the song matches Inej’s outlook to each task she is given.  Next, Jesper, is a trick-shooter who cannot seem resist a game of poker.  His back story is slowly revealed as the heist unfurled.  Then, Matthais and Nena, a pair with an unknown story, have to work together once again, even as memories emerge from their past.  And, last, the newest member to join the gang, and the most cultured of them all, is Wylan.

If this novel was turned into a film, a leitmotif for it could be Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” for its strong espionage-like quality of music.  Due to the heist, whenever situations get tense, this theme would pop into my head.

Six of Crows was a crazy whirlwind of a book including an unforgettable heist.  The novel was entirely riveting between the obstacles they overcame and how each character grew.  I enthusiastically  give a 9.8/10 to this Leigh Bardugo story.  The only point deduction was the confusing introduction, which only proved to be a small bit useful later in the journey.  Be sure to check out this novel as well as the recently published, Crooked Kingdom (second in the sequel), as well as the Grisha trilogy!

-Maya S., 9th grade

Six of Crows is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

Book Review: Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo

shadow_and_boneShadow and Bone is Leigh Bardugo’s first book, and a stunning success.

The story is about an orphaned girl named Alina Starkov. Her only friend, Mal, keeps her company as they grow up, playing in and around the property. When the magicians called Grisha come to test children for powers, the two are found to be perfectly ordinary, and must serve in the King’s First Army of commoners.

Years later, a troupe of soldiers and Grisha prepare to travel through the Shadow Fold, a deadly and strip of land created by the magic of the ancient Black Heretic. The swath of land is a cut of stifling darkness, slashing through the land. Within the regions, there are swarms of terrifying winged demons called Volcra, making travel deadly. When Alina and Mal’s troupe is attacked, Mal is brutally injured, and Alina unknowingly calls upon a storied and legendary power hidden within her.

With lancing beams of blinding sunlight, she drives away the monsters, then promptly passes out. As the first Sun Summoner in generations, Alina is doomed and destined to become far greater than the scrawny and average peasant she used to be.

From the scenes Leigh Bardugo paints, we readers picture a vast, fairytale version of Russia. From the intricate descriptions of palaces to forests, every page seems dreamy and enchanting. This story is a unique use of the “Finding inner greatness” theme. It’s amazing how smoothly and quickly the storyline develops, how a typical child is whisked off to a world of broader horizons. Alina slowly becomes accustomed, and grasps the full scope of things that a commoner could never understand. The Grisha magic is both revered and powerful, including mastery over fire, wind, darkness, even the ability to destroy human flesh. These make for a thrilling and action-packed scenes necessary for great fantasy books. In addition, Shadow and Bone includes a haunting romantic side, in which Alina is torn between her childhood love, Mal, and the land’s most powerful magician, the Darkling.

With that, I implore you to read this mysterious fairytale. A movie is supposed to follow soon, so you’ll have that to look forward to also. Cheers!

-Phillip X., 9th grade