I was recently recommended this book through a friend on Goodreads. It instantly ticked several of my loves just through the blurb alone. It had suspense, crime, action, and most importantly, no hint of a romance.
Take a look for yourself…
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.
Starting this book, I was intrigued. This quickly disappeared once I started to actually read the book. Once I realised that none of the main characters exceeded the age of nineteen, everything just became… implausible. At first, I believed Kaz to be older, at least in his thirties. He’s described as walking with a cane, dark, and brooding.
Instantly I began to question his ability to lead. He may have been skilled, but he’s still a child. He still has a very limited experience of the world. This sense only became stronger and stronger as I read on and learned more about the other characters.
Inej is basically a ninja with sneaking about. She’s known as the Wraith because you’ll never hear her coming into a room. But this seems to be her only strength as, physically, she is overpowered easily. The only way she has an advantage over opponents is by sneaking up to them.
Nina is a ‘heartrender’, a term here meaning ‘blood’ magic, who works mainly in a brothel of sorts manipulating emotions. She may seem like a hardass when you first meet her, but you soon learn that that trait quickly disappears when confronted.
Jesper is a sharpshooter who joins the crew after ditching uni and taking up gambling. He’s the sarcastic, light-hearted one in the bunch.
Wylan is the rich boy slumming it, which sounds like a boring character to have with a bunch of criminals, but he just so happens to have a knack for making bombs. Because, you know, that’s what rich kids are taught.
Finally, and most reluctantly on the team, is Matthias, who is a brute of a boy (teen, really) and is only recruited because of his knowledge of the Ice court.
Whilst I can get over the young ages of all the characters, what bothered me about this book was the fact that the characters were able to get out of situations easily. That Bardugo makes it seem like, even when their plans went to the shitter, they were still on track to their goal (which wasn’t true). Especially as, in many instances, their escape relied on a trait or object that one character possessed that was never mentioned before (and this is 200 pages into the book). It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I honestly think it was just lazy writing.
For example, when they first arrive at the prison they have no reasonable means to escape. Suddenly, one character reveals a talent that just so happens to provide a way for them to leave – a talent they have not mastered and certainly has no control over. It’s later revealed that this talent wasn’t even needed anyway (I know that’s vague, but I don’t want to spoil the book too much) because another character had concealed a lockpick by swallowing one.
Every time they managed to escape with not even a scratch, I was rolling my eyes. It was too good to be true. Everything turns out perfect even when Kaz sabotages his own mission. It’s as if he planned for this from the very start (which is explicitly said he hasn’t and everything that happens in the Ice Court is on the fly).
Now I did enjoy reading this. In fact, I enjoyed it very much, but all these small discrepancies can’t be ignored. Whilst I loved the fact that this is the first book I’ve read with multiple female characters, there are too many things that stopped me from loving it. Because of that, I don’t think I will ever be able to pick up the sequel.