“The monster is me and I am the monster”
– Leigh Bardugo, King of Scars
I first ran into Bardugo when I came across Six of Crows (my all time favorite) a few years ago. The world and characters she had created enchanted me and I needed more as soon as humanly possibly. I moved onto the Grishaverse hoping to cure my Six of Crows hangover but found myself more intrigued by the side characters than with the main character Alina and her character arc. I needed to know more about the dashing pirate king and the moody Grisha Squaller that had been so idolized by Nina. The answer to my prayers was King of Scars and was one of my other most anticipated releases this year. While KoS didn’t quite disappoint it didn’t fully satisfy me either. Beware of some spoilers ahead!
When we left Nikolai in Ruin & Rising he had beat the monster that the Darkling had turned him into, or so we thought. Apparently the monster has returned and with the instability in Ravka this could not be worse timing. The good news is he hasn’t killed anyone yet the bad news is it’s just a matter of time until he does. Seeing the dynamic between Nikolai and Zoya was one of my favorite things about this book. I loved getting inside their heads and seeing who they were behind the shields they both put up. It was nice to get some back story on why Zoya had turned on the Darkling and to learn more about her, since we had only seen her from Alina’s biased perspective up until now.
So what really brought this book up short for me was Nina. I know, I said earlier that Six of Crows was my all time favorite so how could I not like Nina’s parts? I was admittedly excited when her first chapter came up. I wanted to know how she was handling Matthias’ death and if she ever went home to Ravka. Nina did go back and re-join the second army and has now been placed in Fjerda as a secret agent to help Grisha escape the persecution they’re facing. While all that was interesting, I wanted to skip her chapters and get back to Nikolai, Zoya, and even Issak. I felt like I was reading two different books in one, the Nina could have had her own series since her events were not lining up well with what was going on in Ravka with Nikolai and his crew.
The biggest let down for though was the ending (SPOILERS AHEAD). The Darkling, after being defeated at a great cost to Alina and her friends, is back again! I am not happy. There are so many routes to go with this new cast of characters. Ravka is in a major political upheaval with Nikolai not being a Lantsov, the kingdom having huge debts since there is no money, the Shu and Fjerdians gunning for another war possibly, Darkling disciples, and Nikolai still has the monster in him. So we’ve got all that and now have to defeat the Darkling again without a Sun Summoner. To say that the next book is highly anticipated would be an understatement because even if I don’t agree with where the book is going, I’m still addicted to it.