Start listening to Six of Crows when you have some long, boring job to do. Not only will the task go faster, you will find yourself looking around for more to do so you can find out what happens next. This is an intense book, and Leigh Bardugo does not let up on the suspense.
Six of Crows is a tale of vagabonds carrying out the ultimate theft. A scientist has discovered a way to refine a common stimulant so that it enhances the power of the Grisha, people who can control nature or the human body. It also addicts them and burns them out rapidly, giving several different groups motives for controlling it. Kaz Brekker, who has a reputation of taking any job no matter how dirty or dangerous, is hired to rescue the scientist from an impenetrable prison and so keep the drug from circulation.
He chooses five people to take with him: Inej aka the Wraith, a skilled acrobat and spy; Jesper, a sharp-shooter who only feels full alive when he is gambling or fighting; Nina, a Grisha capable of controlling people’s organs; Matthias, who believes all Grisha should be killed; and Wylan, a demolitions expert and the only one not from the slums. They have to break into the prison, find the scientist, and get out again. There is no one to help them, and no one to care if they do not come back.
Bardugo tells the story in alternating chapters from multiple points of view, moving from one to the other of the Crows with a few chapters from other points of view. This allows her to follow different plot points, and it is one good way to keep suspense going. The audio version is particularly strong here as there are multiple narrators who read the point of view chapters. They are excellent readers, as well, each varying the voices for dialog inside the chapters.
World building partly relies on readers having a pre-existing sense of what a fantasy slum area is like and what kinds of gang warfare would happen, but beyond that, Bardugo builds up details as needed, seldom resorting to one character explaining matters to another and only when the questions and answers fit the plot. Generally, what is needed comes up when it is needed and the story moves along.
There are a few points where the suspense feels a little artificial, when a chapter is from a character’s point of view, but we are only told what is happening. The purpose of the action, which the point of view character knows, is left out. There are also a couple of times when everyone’s timing is a little too meticulous.
These are not, however, what one thinks of while listening. The story grips hard and will not let go.
The book is set in the same world as Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series, but it is not necessary to have read the trilogy to enjoy Six of Crows.
Six of Crows is available now in multiple formats. Look for it on Amazon.
Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Narrated by: Jay Snyder, David Ledoux, Lauren Fortgang, Roger Clark, Elizabeth Evans, Tristan Morris, Brandon Rubin