Listen to this article

If you follow movie — and TV-show — news very closely, you may have heard that Netflix recently announced a television adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s young-adult novels: the Grisha trilogy (beginning with “Shadow and Bone,” the title of the upcoming show) and the Six of Crows duology.

As opposed to the Russian-inspired Grisha trilogy, Six of Crows is set in Ketterdam, a Dutch-coded city in the country of Kerch. Ketterdam is a city devoted to trade — a double-edged sword that leads to immense wealth and immense poverty.

In the poorest area, known as the Barrel, gangs fight for territory and run all sorts of less-reputable businesses: gambling halls, theaters and brothels among them.

Kaz Brekker, a 17-year-old boy, is the terror of them all. Nicknamed “Dirtyhands” by his enemies, he is the unofficial leader of the Dregs and carries so much respect for his genius and his rumored brutality that most of Ketterdam knows of him — knows to fear him. Most. Not all.

When a wealthy mercher offers him an impossible job (in exchange for an impossible amount of money), he gathers five other members of his gang to pull it off: a Ravkan Heartrender (who can control human cells to both harm and heal), a Zemeni sharpshooter with a gambling addiction, a Suli acrobat known as the Wraith (or Inej, to those who actually know her), a Fjerdan convict who despises everyone and everything and an illiterate runaway hiding far more than anyone could possibly imagine: not least his pyrotechnic abilities.

Though the characters range in age from 15 to 18, they read more as adults than teenagers, and the fan base is made up largely of older young adults. This is one of those rare books that deals equally well in both banter and in serious, real-world issues (including but not limited to physical disability, learning disability and human trafficking).

This book is #OwnVoices (a category encompassing books in which the author shares at least one marginalization with a character, a marker that the representation may be more accurate), as both Bardugo and Brekker use canes — Bardugo because of osteonecrosis, a degenerative bone condition, and Brekker because of a bone that never set correctly.

It is an incredibly di­­verse book: Most characters are queer (either explicitly mentioned or assumed by readers), many are people of color, they belong to different (fictional) religions, they suffer from various addictions, at least two have post-traumatic stress disorder, and one has severe dyslexia.

“Six of Crows” and its sequel, “Crooked Kingdom,” have captured thousands of readers and, with the upcoming adaptation, it joins the ranks with other recent young-adult movies (if you’ve heard of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “Dump­­lin’” or “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda,” you know what I’m talking about). 

Consider picking up the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows before they hit your Netflix recommendations, and you will have excellent company.

Kathryn Thies wears many hats: reader, writer, editor and student at UIUC among them. Find her online at or on Twitter (@katie_bookwise) and Instagram (@katie_bookwise).