“Hello, my name is Amanda the Angry Angel and I am a 33 year old Leigh Bardugo fangirl.”
If you haven’t already, please check out my reviews of:
- Six of Crows (the book before Crooked Kingdom)
- Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1)
- Siege and Storm (Grisha #2)
- Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3)
The way they are listed there is exactly how I would suggest you read them. I started with Six of Crows, and the story was so well told that I already understood what Grisha were, and that there were some pretty intense political conflicts happening. We get a present day story, and then you take a trip into the past to meet several of the characters that you will meet again in Crooked Kingdom. While Six of Crows is okay to read without having Grishaverse context, I would not recommend reading Crooked Kingdom without it.
The latest book in this universe does not disappoint. We are off to the races from the very start, picking up where we left off with our crew frantically planning for the rescue of their captured Wraith. The tag line on the front of the book states “when you can’t beat the odds, change the game” and throughout the book Kaz Brekker replaces the game he is losing with about ten other ones. It reminded me of a good episode of Sherlock where we get to watch the pieces fall into place with extreme satisfaction.
I could tell you about the plans or the excitement or the enemies or the intrigue, but for this particular discussion I would like to draw attention to an aspect of this book that is so important and I was hoping would show up.
I absolutely adore how Leigh Bardugo introduces LGBT representation, in that it is presented as though it is a normal part of the world. No pearl-clutching, no disapproving parents, no gasping and saying things like “well I don’t approve but if it makes you happy I support you.” Just, I love you you love me, aw they love each other that’s fantastic. She presents this as normal. This is very important and I cannot stress this enough.
I appreciate the YA writers that steep their LGBT in real world scenarios. Reactions from indifferent acceptance to shock to revulsion are all realities that teen LGTB youth still face from their families and friends, although I see this changing (thank goodness). But I think that there is something very critical to be said about presenting this as normal because it is normal. Let teens and young adults see that their identity should not be something to be hidden or revealed like a promposal or college choice announcement. Let them see that it is possible to just be who they are and that’s okay. I want them to read this book and say “wait, Jasper’s dad isn’t shocked? Why isn’t Wylan’s dad more upset about him being gay than not being able to read?” and Bardugo lets them know that the answer to their question is that it is nothing to be ashamed of in her universe.
Leigh Bardugo’s writing is so important for so many reasons, but if I had to pick one to emphasize it would be her care and love in her LGBT characters. I cannot wait until that is an unquestioned reality in our universe.
All that being said there are still unanswered questions at the end of this book and out of the small reserve of hope I hold ahead of my country’s plunge into darkness, I have apportioned a bit for a third book to bring resolution to this magnificent story. Here’s hoping!