Rating: 5 Stars
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
(*gasping and flailing wildly*)
I’m not going to lie – I didn’t have high expectations for this book. I think it might even be a stretch to say I had decent expectations for this book. I didn’t much care for Ms. Bardugo’s first novel in the Grisha trilogy, and while after the last book in the series I was full of emotions and flailing around like an idiot, the first book, Shadow and Bone, did nothing for me. It wasn’t that it was bad or not entertaining, but just that I literally couldn’t remember anything about it. It was unmemorable to me, and I kinda expected the same thing to happen here. Not a bad book, just not my favorite.
Boy, was I wrong.
I adored this. I know I make fun of/scorn the whole idea of insta-love, but I seem to have become a hypocrite of my own words, because after two chapters of this book, I was head-over-heels for Kaz Brekker.
I honestly think I can say I have never fallen this hard this quick for a character before. Never. Sure, it might happen halfway through a book, but after two chapters? Nope. Never happened before.
And you want to know what’s kinda messed up? Kaz didn’t do anything during those two chapters except outwit another gang boss at the same time as ousting a traitor in his own midst. He was so clever and awesome and bada**. (And I really, really like clever men.) (Especially the ones who have not-so-crystal-clean-motives-and/or-values.)
Now, I think it goes without saying that Kaz will have some kind of sad, sad backstory that will explain how he ended up in Ketterdam – one of the most ruthless places that exist – and how he worked his way up to this kind of gang boss who deals in trade and not-so-legal things. He has his hands in many pots, as the saying goes. And then there’s his limp, making Kaz use a cane to get around . . . and use as a wicked weapon, of course. ‘Cause why not?
Obviously, Kaz doesn’t trust anyone . . . except maybe Inej.
This isn’t about some hidden love they have going on. It isn’t about secret feelings or a desire to be someone else, someone who isn’t constantly fighting for their lives and who could have a nice, quiet life together somewhere. Neither really want that. Kaz loves money and power far too much to ever give that up for anyone, and that’s not about to change, and Inej doesn’t really trust Kaz as far as she can throw him, not really. She trusts him more than anyone else, sure, but that’s not really saying much.
“She’d laughed, and if he could have bottled the sound and gotten drunk on it every night, he would have. It terrified him.”
Inej just wants to go home. Kidnapped from her parents when she was a little girl and sold to a prostitution house, Inej has a special skill set picked up from traveling with her parents when they worked with a circus: she doesn’t make a sound. And she’s rather handy with a knife.
There’s quite a lot of blood on her hands, and while she doesn’t revel in it, she’s not ashamed of it either.
Then there’s Nina. A Heartrender who’s trying to make up for past sins, she stays voluntarily in Ketterdam. But she’ll do anything to get Matthias back, to repay him for her sins against him. Not that he’s any better, of course, with being a witch hunter himself and wanting nothing more than killing Nina, who earned his trust and then betrayed him in the worst of ways.
But she’s not ready to go down without a fight.
“It’s not natural for women to fight.”
“It’s not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.”
Nina doesn’t want redemption, but Matthias does. And he believes her death will be just that.
I loved the girls in this. I think anymore that a novel can be decided as either good or great based on how the females are portrayed (at least for me). Neither Nina nor Inej try too hard. Neither are innocent little virgins who have a heart of good. I loved that. Neither try to keep up with the boys either, or try too hard to be ruthless. They have talents all their own, and without even one of them the whole team would have been dead ten times over.
I was honestly surprised at how much I loved this. I love how ruthless everyone is, and how none of them judge the other for any past or current sins, because they all have a reason – however justified or not – for doing the things they do, and no one else has a right to judge them for it.
There is romance here, but not an abundant amount of it. There is no one ever wondering if so-and-so likes them back or unnecessary sexual tension. Kaz is protective of Inej in the way of letting her do her own thing and knowing she is just as capable of fighting her own battles as he is, but he’s also more than willing to kill for her. Torture for her. And neither ever questions the other’s morals.
Inej is planning on leaving; that was always the plan. Make enough money to pay off her debt, and then get away from Ketterdam as quickly as possible. No infatuation will change that. And so she knows that if she does stay there, with Kaz, it will be with all of him, not just as his Wrath, but as her. And she’ll take nothing less.
“I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.”
And she will never cry over him. She will never mourn him, because if she can’t have all of him, then she wants none of him.
“She wouldn’t wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn’t be rid of.”
The many different POV’s scared me at first, just because that is one of my top most-hated things in YA books: multiple POV’s. I like just seeing the POV of one character.
Don’t worry about that here. I loved it. And while I still – as always – had my preference of character POV’s that I preferred, I still enjoyed them all.
Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.