I admit it. I hesitated to read Crooked Kingdom for a long time out of fear. The character are so precious to me, and I was scared they’d die. But, I finished the book today (two days reading in total). Here are some of my thoughts.
Trauma and Coping
The world Bardugo creates is mean, to put it gently. These characters have endured trauma and loss so much, and it affects their behaviors. They have coping mechanisms that may make them seem “bad.”
When I had read the first book, I distanced myself from Kaz quite a bit. As someone who had gone through abuse, I see a lot of my struggle in him and Inej.
This book just brought him to life for me. I understand him better. Jordie, his shock after what happened to him and Jordie, feels so painful and real, valid, and honestly I don’t know how Pekka Rollins lived for long. Revenge is such a driving force for Kaz, but a lot of it is based on the fear he inflicts on people. It’s not so much that he is a monster.
In fact, he often emphasizes this to Inej and the rest of the group. It’s almost a defense mechanism. The world is cruel, so Kaz has to be equally terrifying to survive it.
I think of him, gloved hands because touch is too overwhelming, his cane, his shock of losing Jordie, and I think that he is a good example of how one copes to survive in a given environment.
I could write a whole blog just about how Inej and Kaz’s relationship is complex, given they are both abuse survivors. It is such a beautifully intricate romance to watch unfold.
There is a death in this book, and I am trying not to cry. Wylan and Jesper’s relationship, gorgeously wobbly as they admit their insecurities, their wounds, and their fears, it is truly astounding.
Nina and Matthias have also come along way. I mean, there is MAKE OUT SCENES IN THIS! And, that was great, especially when Matthias notices his old beliefs in contrast with how he sees Nina.
I wish there were more books about these characters. But also, not? It leaves space for us fans to explore and imagine.
Oh, how there are so many shadows in this book. Dunyasha, for one, being Inej’s shadow is just amazing. What happens when one ponders their disposable nature? Truly, the idea a person is replaceable is a haunting one, but it’s not really that much of a stretch.
So, Inej has someone to fight in this book. Kaz is against Rollins. Wylan and his father are locked in a fight, and then, it is mirrored with Jesper’s relationship with his father. Matthias and his fellow Fjordians face one another. And, Nina is again put in the place of a pupil when she meets up with Genya and Zoya.
This mirroring allows Bardugo to delve into the cruxes of these characters’ insecurities and fears.
It’s definitely a five star read for me. So good, and kind of a shock in some ways, because, I did not expect a death in this. In fact, I keep checking my book to see if it’s real. It hurts.
But, I would recommend this duology, way more than the Grisha trilogy.
Hope you give it a read! If you have read it, please, let’s talk in the comments!