I really enjoyed the Grisha trilogy by Bardugo and was very excited to see that she had come out with a new fantasy series set in that same world. This was an amazing book that reminds a bit of Ocean's Eleven but with really cool magic and a much more interesting world.
Kaz Brekker (aka Dirtyhands) makes a living running scams and performing crimes and he is very very good at it. Then he gets a job offer he can't resist. A job that will leave him with all the money he needs to get his revenge and then start over somewhere new. It's an incredibly risky and deadly job and to pull it off he will need five others with very specific skills to help him.
Enter the Six of Crows. You have Kaz, the leader and general logistical genius. Inej (aka Wraith) who is Kaz's ghost and informant; Kaz has a special place in her heart and she owes her life to him so she readily agrees. Then there is Jesper, Kaz's right-hand man and a sharpshooter who has a gambling problem and needs a way out of it. Next is Nina a Heartrinder who needs a favor from Kaz and is willing to help on this quest in exchange for Kaz's help. The last willing member is Wylan, the son of a wealthy merchant who is very good with explosives. Wylan is unknowingly part of the crew and a hostage all in one! Lastly there is Matthias, a former resident of the Ice Court who is intimately familiar with the White Island and its prison. Matthias is not happy to help in this heist, but he feels a debt to Kaz and is eager to get the promised pardon should they succeed in their mission.
The story is told from the POV of all of these characters and it works absolutely beautifully for this story. I am usually not a huge fan of multiple POVs (more than two of three), but all of these characters are so amazing that it is just pleasure to read about all of them. Not to mention how wonderfully Bardugo blends all these POVs to make an amazing story.
This is one of those perfectly balanced stories that has something for everyone. There is a lot of action, mystery, excellent world-building, some romance, nifty magic, and political maneuvering. Everything is balanced really well and paced just perfectly. This was an absolutely amazing story.
I loved all of the characters too. Although I will readily admit Kaz and Inej were my favorites; they both have mad skills and their respect and unrequited love for each other was endearing and at times maddening. Nina and Matthias were an equally awesome potential couple; they have that whole star-crossed thing going on and there is sooo much anger and passion between them. Wylan and Jesper were just as complex and interesting as the others too.
The story was amazing and intricate and had lots of awesome twists and turns. It really reminds of an epic fantasy Ocean's Eleven; it also reminds a bit of Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastards series (will we ever see the next book in that series?!) It was perfectly paced, absolutely engaging, and actual had me physically aching to read more when I was finished.
Overall this was one of the most amazing books I have read this year (I am at 250+ books so that is saying something). It was a perfectly balanced epic fantasy which lots of action, mystery, romance, world-building, magic, and intrigue. The characters are incredible and the story was completely engaging and impossible to put down. I am hooked and am dying to read the next book in this series. It would help to read the Grisha trilogy before this one to understand the world a bit better, but it's not absolutely necessary. I actually thought this book was a million times better than the Grisha trilogy and am so so excited to read the next one.