Cover Image: Into The Crooked Place

Into The Crooked Place

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy of this book for review.

I requested this, and have, therefore, fallen into a trap, because I loved To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. This one, I didn't dislike by any means, I just didn't like it as much. I think that'll always be the problem with reading a second book by an author whose first book you loved - there'll always be a comparison.

In this book, there was no one good character; they were all quite morally grey. They're all crooks of a sort, either selling something dodgy, killing to get their way or lying to all around them. I'd say I wouldn't want to be friends with any of these characters, but I also wouldn't want to be on their bad side. They're also all characters very clouded by the constant secrets they all keep; we get chapters from each of their POVS, but the reader can never be quite sure if they're being told the whole truth or a half-truth.
On their own, I didn't love the characters. But I did enjoy how they interacted with each other. No one liked everyone, so there was constant conflict and a constant feeling of unease. They really did feel like a group of people thrown together to save the world, even though they all would have rather been with someone else.
One thing I didn't love was how many POVs there were. I don't mind books with multiple POVs, and I know this had so many because the only way the reader could find out all the characters' secrets was to be inside their head, but still. Four felt like too many. I know why Christo concluded that she needed to, but I don't think there was enough narrative difference between each of the POVs to warrant having that many.
A big part of this book was the magic and it didn't disappoint. There's magic everywhere you turn, of all types. It blends seamlessly with the gangster atmosphere of the book, as magic becomes a commodity to be bought in addition to being something inherent. There's also magic that's learnt and magic that's stolen; it's very rarely magic that's just beautiful for the sake of being there.
There was one plot twist towards the end I didn't expect, but that's only because I was reading for the sake of reading, rather than reading to predict things. It made sense, so I could have predicted it, I just didn't. There's one I then expected to happen, but it didn't, so I look forward to the sequel to see if my prediction is entirely wrong (I expect it is).
My final point is about romance (because when don't I moan about romance). I thought the romance in To Kill A Kingdom was so good and it narratively made sense. In this, neither of them did. And that's right: TWO romances! And, because all the characters narrate the story, we get the romances talked about ALL the time. I'll be honest, one of them I didn't hate; it was f/f (rep I haven't seen spoken about with this) and the characters genuinely seemed to care about each other. The other was straight and meh. They seemed like very good friends and genuinely good together as a team, but to suddenly think about how much you like the other in a romantic sense, just before your world might end? No thank you. I mean, who thinks about regretting not kissing someone when you could potentially die?

This feels like a very negative review, but it wasn't a negative reading experience. The negatives just stayed with me, apparently. 
I did enjoy this book, however, and I will check out the sequel!
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Tavia is the best magic busker in Creije, working for Wesley, who used to be her friend but is now the Kingpin's golden boy. Karam and Saxony also work for Wesley, but in the Crook, his underground fighting club. The four crooks now need to team up if they are to save their city. But each of them has their own secrets and none can ever truly trust the others. Through the book you find out more about the varying degrees of relationship and history the characters have. This is the first half of a duology so there was bound to be a cliffhanger but the book is also quite self contained.

This was such an immersive world, I had to surface now and then just to find out where I was and what was going on. Once again the author has created complex characters and actually managed to make me care about the bad guys.
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3.5 stars.

This one reminded me a bit of Assassin's Creed syndicate, with the gangs, the steam train and the general feel. Multiple POVs. Favourite character was Wesley, didn't like Saxony, didn't think much of Karam and although I did like Tavia I'm hoping she steps up a bit. 

Fast paced road trip/journey type thing, with growing relationships F/F established. A new take on magic, a prophecy and war. I'm looking forward to seeing where this one goes. Ends on a cliffhanger.
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