Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Copyright Date: 2015
Reading Age: 12-18
Reading Level: Grades 7-12
Awards: Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award, Lincoln Award
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Subgenre: Supernatural Thriller
Set in the Grishaverse of the popular Shadow and Bone series, Six of Crows, and its sequel Crooked Kingdom, explore the seedy underbelly of the world run by Small Science. While only one member of the crew can manipulate matter in the way of the majority of the characters in Shadow and Bone, they have other talents. Kaz, the leader of the team, is a thief with a mysterious past. Inej, known as the Wraith, uses her experience as an acrobat to slip in and out of places unseen. Jesper is a sharpshooter with a gambling problem. Star-crossed lovers Nina and Matthias are dealing with the aftermath of betrayal. If they can all work together to steal from an impenetrable stronghold, they may just change all of their fates to the better.
While the Grishaverse of the Shadow and Bone series showed good and evil in a more stark black and white setting, Six of Crows, and its sequel Crooked Kingdom, explore the realm of the gray parts of morality. Kaz is a thief and will not hesitate to hurt others if that is the action he thinks is needed. Inej is the Wraith partly because of her acrobatic training but also because she was unseen when she was victimized, kidnapped, and sold to a brothel. Jesper has a gambling addiction, craving the release from his feelings of guilt and shame. Nina betrayed the man she loves in order to save his life, but by doing so condemned him to an imprisoned existence. Matthias, dealing with the aftermath of betrayal, is also coping with issues of rage and his trustworthiness is in question. If they can all work together to steal from an impenetrable stronghold, they may just change all of their fates to the better, but the only way to make their lives better is to work together to commit a crime. Six of Crows is a compelling fantasy that is also a fun heist tale. It is also a tightly-written story with a diverse cast of characters who all bring their unique traumas to the story. Teens will enjoy the characters, their sense of humor and camaraderie, and will enjoy the unfolding of the mysteries embedded within the novel. Readers of all ages will appreciate the examination of the reasons behind a life of crime and will find themselves rooting for the characters even when their own moral compasses are pointing far away from the path this gang of thieves chooses.
Six people in the crew—a convict, a sharpshooter, a runaway, a spy, a Heartrender, and a thief. If they can pull off this heist, it will mean a new way of life for each of them.
About the Author
Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of fantasy novels and the creator of the Grishaverse (now a Netflix original series) which spans the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, the Six of Crows Duology, The Language of Thorns, and King of Scars—with more to come.
Her short stories can be found in multiple anthologies, including the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. Her other works include Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Ninth House (Goodreads Choice Winner for Best Fantasy 2019) which is being developed for television by Amazon Studios. She lives in Los Angeles.
(Author information and photo can be found here.)
Six of Crows is not just a fantasy novel, it's also a heist novel. Discuss some of the most common heist tales.
Speak to the conflict between morality and amorality found in both books of the Six of Crows Duology and why readers might identify with the amoral leanings of the characters.
Challenge issues: LGBTQIA+, violence
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Six of Crows is a compelling fantasy that is also a fun heist tale. It is also a tightly-written story with a diverse cast of characters who all bring their unique trauma to the motivations for being in a gang of crooks and thieves. Teens will enjoy the characters, their sense of humor and camaraderie, and will enjoy the unfolding of the mysteries embedded within the novel.