Just because it isn’t contemporary, doesn’t mean it can’t give you the feels. There are more ships in this book than most. Because this book follows Six of Crows, it will contain a few spoilers from the first book.
I loved this book even more than Six of Crows because it is high emotions and high stakes. When last we left our crew, they were betrayed and Inej was (spoiler) kidnapped. AGH! Kaz Brekker puts his expert strategist skills to the test to figure out a way to get Inej back, hide Kuwei from everyone that wants him, get their money from the heist in the last book, get his revenge on the man (Pekka Rollins) that was responsible for his brother’s death, and most importantly… not get anyone killed. The quote “No Mourners, No Funerals” from SoC takes an even heavier tone in this book as you realize how one wrong step could land any of them on that body barge out in Ketterdam harbor.
The ships that will give you the feels in this book? All of them.
Kaz + Inej
I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.
That quote is from Crooked Kingdom. It is Kaz speaking to Inej. As I mentioned, Inej is kidnapped at the end of Six of Crows. This quote gave me chills when I read it.
So a bit on their history: Kaz brought Inej into his crew, the Dregs, after spotting her at the Menagerie (a red-light district house of ill repute). He didn’t have much in terms of romantic inclinations to her in the first book, but he did have loyalty to her that seemed to imply he liked her more than anyone else. Because Kaz doesn’t like or trust most everyone. And he didn’t feel like he deserved her. And because of his issue with skin-on-skin contact (a reveal in Six of Crows that made my heart break for him), he has problems trying to physically show affection for Inej.
Some people have suggested that they are together through this whole book, but to me they are in a courtship phase. The ending is really up to interpretation. I love how Inej stands up to Kaz, and how Kaz tries repeatedly to show how he feels. His words in the quote above tell me all I need to know. But Inej wants more than words. She wants it all or nothing.
Wylan + Jesper
“Jes, I’ve thought about this-“
“Thought of me? Late at night? What was I wearing?”
“I’ve thought about your powers,” Wylan said, cheeks flushing pinker.
I think I sorta missed any relationship building on this until the end of Six of Crows. Wylan and Jesper are a sweet couple. When we left them in Six of Crows, Wylan had been tailored by Nina to look like Kuwei as part of the heist. So we have two guys that look like Kuwei, and no one that looks like Wylan. Which is confusing for pretty much everyone, including Jesper who has feelings for Wylan. Wylan also has feelings for Jesper, but is happy to be the pursued instead of the pursuer… maybe because he is young, shy and/or introverted.
I love their relationship in this book because it’s flirty but it also has a nod to the classic mistaken-identity bit from commedia dell’arte (15th-16th century Italian theater which also influenced Shakespeare in plays such as Twelfth Night and many others). It has a slower build than other relationships, but it is well worth the time to watch for and enjoy.
Nina + Matthias
“You’re better that waffles, Matthias Helvar.”
A small smile curled the Fjerdan’s lips.
“Let’s not say things we don’t mean, my love.”
Nina and Matthias are a couple we all saw coming from a mile away. Mostly because in the first book we find out that they sort of did have a relationship, and then Nina betrayed Matthias and ended up in prison. She tried her best to make it right and with Kaz’s help in SoC, they did spring him from jail. But then Nina and Matthias have a love/hate relationship for the rest of that book.
When we left them in SoC, Matthias was incredibly worried for Nina as the affects of parem wore off, and her health is now in jeopardy. And that’s where Crooked Kingdom picks right back up. Nina is ill because of the parem, and she just wants to start using it again. But they all know if she does she will be addicted, and the next withdrawal will kill her.
I love their relationship because they have to learn how to trust each other, love each other again, and forgive their mistakes. Their challenges in CK definitely revolve around Nina’s need for the drug, her shifted Grisha powers, and Matthias’ resolution to keep her safe.
That is all for the main relationships in Crooked Kingdom. There is also a great feel part when Jesper is reunited with his father. It reminds you about how young the Dregs really are and the power of a parent. You’ll also find some stellar friendship building that continues from SoC between Nina and Inej. Those girls are the best.
The friendships and the relationships and the madness of Crooked Kingdom left me reeling. It is easily one of my favorite new books and I want so much more from the Grishaverse. I want more of the Dregs. I need more of all of them.