Popsugar Reading Challenge category: First book in a duology
Book: Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo
This is a fast-moving fantasy story with a twisty plot and well-drawn, flawed but sympathetic characters. It's set in a world with late 18th-century technology, where magic is rare and those who can use it (called Grisha) are often kidnapped and enslaved. But now a drug has been invented that makes the Grisha much more powerful - and extremely addicted. The man with the formula must be captured.
At the center is Kaz, a teenage up-and-comer in a street gang, often underestimated because of his cane - which he weaponizes to great effect. Like any great heist story, there's a team of specialists: Inez, the acrobat and spy; Jesper, the marksman with a gambling problem; Nina, the Grisha who specializes in altering bodies; Matthias, the warrior giant from a culture where Grisha are taboo; and Wylan, the demolitions expert who fled his wealthy family. The slow-burn attractions between various pairings add an extra layer of delight to the story. (And I always appreciate when fantasy authors remember that not everyone has to be white or straight.)
Just when you think you know what's happened, it ends on a cliffhanger. So I need to read Crooked Kingdom as quickly as possible.