Oh, the trap I've fallen into with the Grishaverse...don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good trap! I have a tendency to fall in love with things that aren’t real in a big way, and when I say aren’t real, I mean fictional characters or anything within the mythical realm. From this review, you’ll probably catch a glimpse of my (very healthy) obsession with this universe.
Let’s kick things off with the Shadow and Bone trilogy, shall we? This trilogy consists of the following books - Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, & Ruin and Rising. Shadow and Bone did quite well in terms of establishing its characters, what they mean, where they stand in terms of hierarchy, etc. It resembles the Harry Potter world in a way, with all the different houses and what they represent. The story starts off by introducing us to the Shadow Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. Alina Starkov is our protagonist and the entire story is from her perspective as she travels through her nation, Ravka.
Mal is the boy she grew up with - they were both two refugees orphaned at a young age, and they have been each other's constant companions through the trials and tribulations of life. Their connection is precious, with so much love in it that many tend to look past easily (not me though!). Why do they look past this connection you ask? Well, that may have to do with a very mysterious and VERY handsome character called the Darkling. When Alina and Mal have to trek through the Shadow Fold, Alina is met with powers she didn’t know she possessed, a power that was never believed to exist, until now. When this power is witnessed by many in the Shadow Fold, Alina is whisked away by the Darkling to train with the Grisha - her country’s magical military elite led by the Darkling himself.
This book is about Alina’s newfound powers that need to be tamed, as she is now expected to use them to destroy the Shadow Fold and reunite her war-ravaged country. In preparation for that however, she makes a dangerous discovery, one that threatens everything she loves and her nation.
Throughout all three books, most people I know vouched for Alina and the mysterious Darkling. They found Mal pretty...annoying, sadly. As for me, I perceived it in a completely different manner. I felt the Darkling was incredibly overhyped and portrayed in a way that was underwhelming to me by the time I finally finished the books. He is still very powerful, yet I always had more of an interest and liking towards Mal (yes I like the character that not many do, as always!). The second book, Siege and Storm was rather slow and draggy, if I’m being very honest. Don’t let that fool you, the third book will make up for everything, as in my very personal opinion, Ruin and Rising is the best book of the trilogy. Everything was damn near perfect, and I just absolutely loved how the story ended.
Let’s jump to the Six of Crows duology now and as the name states, there’s 2 books to this - Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Six of Crows starts off in another part of the Grishaverse, a story set in a state called Ketterdam, 2 years after Shadow and Bone ends. Ketterdam is different from Ravka in every way possible, it’s the downtrodden part of town that not many frequent. Here is where we meet our protagonist, Kaz Brekker, manager of the notorious Crow Club in Ketterdam, home of a street gang called the Crows. His portrayal in the book somehow managed to capture my unattainable heart, and yet if I met Kaz in real life, I’d want to punch him in the face. His character is incredibly frustrating, and yet again, I ended up loving the least likeable character. I guess I do have a type!
Now, onto the plot. The world is likely to be destroyed by a single drug, a drug so powerful that half yearn for it, and the other half want it gone, fearing for what it would unleash upon the world. So who’s going to stop it? Well, it’s going to be Kaz and his fantastical ragtag crew of a convict, a sharpshooter, a runaway, a spy, a heartrender (you’ll come to know what that is) and a thief. Unlike Kaz, the rest of our characters are extremely likeable..in their own odd ways though, I must add. Each of them possess a quality necessary for the mission, and while they might possess the power to save the world, the real question is will they survive each other? Did I mention that this story is told through each of their perspectives?! I simple LOVE books like this - I truly enjoy being able to deep dive into each individual character's narratives.
When I say Kaz is a genius, it truly is the biggest understatement, yet characters throughout the book repeatedly tend to underestimate him as the cripple; the man with the crow cane under his hand. These books made me so happy as I was reading them, and allowed me to step into a beautiful magical world every single time I picked them up. Between the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology, my favourite has to be the latter. It’s so clever, so well written, and the character development is absolutely chef’s kiss.
Like any fantasy book, you’ll be extremely confused at the start of it all, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing what I did. Perhaps you might not like it, these books aren’t for everyone but I could never forgive myself if I didn’t at least TRY to convince you to read them. Oh and please, read the Shadow and Bone trilogy first. I made the mistake of reading the Six of Crows duology before that and I spoiled it for myself in more ways than one (everyone says it doesn’t matter which you read first but if you enjoy the element of surprise, please trust me on this).
If you do decide to read these, I truly hope you enjoy them, and I'd love to know your thoughts on these books! Up next on the Leigh Bardugo train for me will be King of Scars and Rule of Wolves. There’s a high chance I’ll be back with a review of those books once I’m done. Till next time readers.