Review: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

KOSI finished reading King of Scars two weeks ago, and it’s taken me this long to actually sit down and write a (hopefully) coherent review. It’s not because I disliked the book — I really enjoyed it! But I knew it would be hard to write about, because nearly everything I want to discuss or mention is spoiler-y. 🤐

So… SPOILER WARNING: I’m going to do my best to avoid the gigantic, WTF-worthy spoilers, but there will likely be some minor spoilers in this review — including spoilers for Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. If you haven’t read King of Scars yet and want to remain as unspoiled as possible (good luck with that if you’re on Twitter, lol), look away now!

Okay. Remember how I said this would be coherent? HAHAHA. Not likely. 😂 But let’s jump right in — with bullet points, because this book has left me incapable of writing complete, sensible paragraphs.

  • Was this book perfect? No. Was I disappointed — even just a tiny bit? In some ways, yes. (We’ll get into that more later.) But boy oh boy, was it one hell of a ride. 
  • THAT FIRST CHAPTER. It’s so atmospheric and creepy… and also very sad, because MY SWEET BABY NIKOLAI. *sobs*
  • I went from disliking Zoya in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy to practically worshiping her in King of Scars. If that’s not a miracle, I’m not sure what is. In the years that have passed since that climactic battle with the Darkling, she has grown so much. And I was glad that we learned more about her past in this book.
  • I love books with cults and dark magic and strange prophecies, so when the Cult of the Starless Saint showed up, I was 100% on board.
  • I thought that Nina’s grief was very well-written, and as painful as it was to relive Matthias’s death, it was important for the reader to see how it continues to affect her.
  • It took me a while to warm up to Hanne — a new character that Nina meets while undercover in Fjerda — but I like her attitude, and I enjoyed her banter with Nina.
  • You know what was even better than that banter, though? The banter between Nikolai and Zoya. A+ BANTER, MY FRIENDS. I did find myself wishing for a little more blatant sexual tension between the two of them, because… Well, that’s my jam. But what we got was pretty damn good.
  • The ending of this book nearly killed me. I remember running into my husband’s office, scream-hissing at him, “Oh my GOD. Oh MY GODDDDD.” 😱 I will say, I do understand why some readers are upset. I think it’s an… interesting choice, narratively speaking. But I’m very, very curious to see what happens in the next book.
  • What kept this from being a five-star read for me was the feeling that some parts of the book were more cohesive than others. While the use of alternating third-person limited POVs worked extremely well in both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, I almost felt like we were too distant from Nikolai in this book. As I’ve said, I liked learning more about Zoya’s background and current motivations. But the Nina chapters were the hardest for me to get through. I’m sure her story will eventually intersect more clearly with Nikolai and Zoya’s narratives in the second book. But there were times when I wondered what this book would have been like without Nina in it.
  • The weird, sand castle-y realm of the saints had me so confused. So… they were never truly martyred? And why was [REDACTED] so obsessed with [REDACTED]? 🤔 I wasn’t sure how quickly time passed there, or how Nikolai was really supposed to prepare for [REDACTED]. (Sorry, sorry… If you’ve read the book, you know.) I’m just still not sure how I feel about that section of the book.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read that I honestly could not put down. And you better believe that I’m already eager for the sequel! But as much as I wanted to give this Nikolai book my heart and soul — along with my angst and tears — both still belong to Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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