You know when you really want a book to work out, but it doesn’t? That was me and Into the Crooked Place. I’m not going to lie, it gave me Six of Crows vibes, but it just fell flat in some aspects.
The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive.
Tavia, a busker ready to pack up her dark-magic wares and turn her back on Creije for good. She’ll do anything to put her crimes behind her.
Wesley, the closest thing Creije has to a gangster. After growing up on streets hungry enough to swallow the weak whole, he won’t stop until he has brought the entire realm to kneel before him.
Karam, a warrior who spends her days watching over the city’s worst criminals and her nights in the fighting rings, making a deadly name for herself.
And Saxony, a resistance fighter hiding from the very people who destroyed her family, and willing to do whatever it takes to get her revenge.
Everything in their lives is going to plan, until Tavia makes a crucial mistake: she delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now these four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I adore these heist style books with a group of characters who even though they don’t seem to work, manage to figure out their own rhythm. But for me, Into the Crooked Place fell flat. Character-wise, I adored Saxony, Tavia, and Karam. Give me all my dangerous girls with soft sides. And there’s even a f/f relationship in this book – which gets me every time.
But for me, I didn’t get enough of Wesley’s back story. Keeping with the Six of Crows vibe, which I haven’t read in years, Wesley just didn’t feel open enough to me? I appreciate the self-sacrifice leader of the group who is guarded and weary of love, but has soft vulnerable spots. However, Wesley’s point of view didn’t allow enough insights into his vulnerabilities and fears to develop a soft spot. The only ways we were able to see more of Wesley’s history was through Tavia’s history. But it wasn’t enough to fully substantiate Wesley in my mind. Don’t even get me started on how much I adored seeing the backstories of Karam and Saxony – FAVORITES!
Plots and Twists
Told in multiple point of views, which – as you know – is another weak spot for me, Into the Crooked Place is a story about characters with flaws, coming together united by a common goal, with altogether different reasons. A misfit team coming together to take down a kingpin who is more legend than fact – yes please! Into the Crooked Place was not afraid to keep turning what you thought you knew on its head. Some of my notes are just pure plot points because I didn’t want to forget.
Where it fell flat for me was that while magic is a big part of the world, I never really got a sense of how magic works. As the book progresses, I found out more and more, but I still have outstanding questions. A magic system is a significant part of a fantasy world and the fact that I didn’t feel completely immersed disappointed me. What ultimately is the most disappointing is that books like this work around a sense of found family. The idea that these people, these rough edges, work together. But at the end, I didn’t get enough of a sense that these characters were like that. When I began to get a peek of what their family could be like, it was too far into the story for me to appreciate their unity.
Into the Crooked Place was a mixed read for me. It has all of the elements that are supposed to leave my heart racing, but it just faded away days after finishing. It had an action packed plot with some fabulous characters and a queer love story. Even if the world building felt insubstantial and I couldn’t get a sense of Wesley, by the end I became fascinated and I’m intrigued to see how Christo deals with the sequel. What I need in the next one? I want all the found family and squishy moments. Plus I want some more epic magic throwing.