Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo
Hey everyone. I’m back from my mini hiatus! I know I didn’t mention anything about it, but once again, deadlines were getting in the way of blogging and reading and I’ve been in quite the reading slump recently (not at all helped by my recent obsession with Dragon Quest Builders 2 on my switch). But since ITCP is released tomorrow, I thought I would do a review of this gorgeous ARC Hot Key were so kind to send me as my ‘I’m officially back’ post. Also, it’s Autumn now, and this is just a perfect Autumn read if you ask me.
From Goodreads: 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.
First up, how pretty is this ARC? I imagine the finished copy will be even more stunning, but wow this is a pretty book. The colours work nicely together, and I was very amused to find a tiny toy bat in my envelope along with the book. It was a cute little addition.
Having absolutely loved To Kill a Kingdom last year, I was incredibly excited for the release of ITCP. The premise just sounded fantastic, and even before I read it, I knew I was going to love it.
Personally, there were two things this book really had going for it; the inventiveness of the world-building, and the characters. I’ll talk a little about the world-building in a moment, since I think it’s always easier to start with characters. At first, I was a tiny touch concerned that it was trying to be the next Six of Crows. There’s obviously the undercurrent of sin and criminal empires, and Tavia and Wesley do remind me quite strongly of Kaz and Inej. However, it became apparent quite quickly that these two weren’t just carbon copies of the Dregs. Tavia is moral, yes, but she’s also incredibly stubborn and knows how to look after herself. Wesley is kind of similar to Kaz, but I feel like there’s a big twist coming somewhere down the line, where we learn precisely why he does the things he does. I have a sneaky feeling that Wesley will turn out to be far more moral than Brekker on a good day.
The other main two characters, Saxony and Karam are a little more distant, and it took me a touch longer to get inside their heads with their chapters. Karam is stoic and fierce, and Saxony is just plain cool though.And the romance between them is so dang sweet. I can’t wait to read more of it 😀 I like that Christo manages to make it complex, but not in a trope-y star-crossed lovers kind of way. The two clearly have a lot of independence and character growth throughout the book, and it was great getting to see them both on their own and together. They make one hell of a team.
I did find it a bit annoying how the voices aren’t entirely distinct. If not for the names at the start of chapters, I might have found it a bit hard to know whose perspective it was from just reading it.
The other thing Into the Crooked Place really has going for it is the world-building. It is simply incredible. It’s so intricate and thoughtful and creative. Honestly, from the very first pages I was gripped by the world of Creije and wanted to know more about it. To be fair, I’m always very drawn to morally grey characters and worlds where there’s a lot of criminal activity and magic [Nevernight, A Darker Shade of Magic, Six of Crows] but this is really something I’ve never quite seen done before. Admittedly, there were moments where I thought the magic system got a little complicated and there maybe could have been a bit more explanation or showing here and there, but I loved the concept of being able to sell spells and magic in market stalls and trading away abilities like being able to fly or breathe fire. The consequence system Christo has set up so far also works very well with all of the magic powers being thrown around all over the place.
In terms of the plot, this is where I thought Into the Crooked Place fell a touch short compared to Christo’s debut. The main plot twist was guessable much earlier on in the novel, and when it was finally revealed it was more of a shrug moment than a gasp out loud situation. I do think there were some tense, edge of the seat instants threaded throughout the book, but not quite as many as I expected. While I really liked the ending, the book got kind of confusing right before the end, and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. So much so that I’m probably either going to have to google it to make sure I actually caught everything, or do a re-read before the release of the next book. However, I do think the developments right at the conclusion of the novel were more than enough incentive to pick up book two when it gets released.
If you’re a big fan of magic, inventive worlds, and morally grey characters being snarky at one another, this is definitely a book that I can recommend. It gets released tomorrow [8th October] in the UK if anyone is interested in grabbing a copy for themselves. As I said at the start of the review, I do think this is one of those books that just perfectly captures the Autumn October vibes too 😀
Overall, I’m giving this book an 8.5/10 stars. I loved the characters and the world-building was astoundingly creative, but I thought the plot got a little messy and confusing right towards the end and it threw me off a bit.
Has anyone else read this book already or plans to? What do you all think of it? Let me know in the comment section down below ❤