How Kaz Brekker Saved My Life; or A Very Personal Review of Six of Crows

While this blog post will also contain my review for Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, it will also contain subject matter some reader my find triggering. Therefore, there is a content warning for suicide and suicidal ideation.

Should you only want to read the review, simply scroll past the first section.

It has taken me a long time to get to reading the beauty of the book that is Six of Crows. With it’s beautiful cover art, and stunning black sprayed edges, it’s a treasure on my shelves even if only to look at. There’s no real reason why I haven’t read it before now, but I will admit to reading it now primarily because I was told I’d get more from King of Scars (Bardugo’s latest book in the Grishaverse) if I did. I went into it thinking I knew what I was signing up for: a teen version of Peaky Blinders with more diversity and a touch of magic. As usual, I got a lot more than that, but I wasn’t expecting just how much more I got.

As followers of mine may know, I lost my 12-year-old cousin a year ago to suicide and it’s something I’m not ashamed to admit I’m still very much struggling to handle. As someone who has suffered very serious and very chronic depression along with being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, suicide is something that is constantly haunting me.

Does this mean that I, myself, am suicidal?

At one point it did but I’ve gotten a little better at handling the dark days to the extend it’s more like intrusive thinking on it’s own rather than an impulsive urge to follow through on said intrusive thoughts. It’s background noise that gets louder on bad days, but still background noise. Since losing my cousin to something that I’ve thought about so intensly over the years, the noise is harder to quiet. Considering my life is not nearly where I was hoping and wanting it to be right now, it’s especially hard to ignore.

My day job is not ideal. The feeling of being a burden to those around me is suffocating. Being 24-years-old and not even really knowing who I am in my own head, let alone to the world around me, feels embarrassing when I see those around me who are younger and still more successful. These are things that make the noise loudest and sometimes it’s to the point where it’s hard to breathe.

In the past I’ve tried to keep thinking of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones or even hyper focusing on anime like Naruto, Bleach and Full Metal Alchemist for motivation to keep moving forward (a prominent line from FMA) but those things always taper out and fade away and I’m stuck scrambling to find something else to chase away the overwhelming pressure of depression.

So where does Six of Crows come in?

Right now.

The moto of the gang (essentially) run by Kaz Brekker is “No mourners. No funerals.” To paraphrase the book itself, this passes between members of The Dregs as “good luck”. But to me, it spoke to the background noise telling me “Hey, wouldn’t things just be easier if you stepped in front of the bus?” It told this voice, this noise, “No. There will be no mourners. There will be no funerals.”

6c413a0f076a683ae908f290fdbe95dbTo me, it’s a reminder of the hardships that come with death. It points at my cousin’s still mourning family and says, “Do you really want that to happen instead?”. There are many books I can get lost in for hours at a time to simply forget what’s going on around me or to help me ignore the storms of conflict that are raging in my head. No mourners. No funerals. can calm the anxiety that tightens my throat when the last thing I want to do is be a cashier. It can remind me that there are people who care about me without sounding patronizing. It’s a warm blanket in the rain that pushes me to make things better myself. And that’s what Leigh Bardugo has given me.

She has taken spite as motivation and given it a strength and a voice that I can hear in my own head and use with my own strength.

Mental illness is different for every person who deals with it, but that’s the thing. We deal with it. And sometimes it’s impossibly hard to just deal with something that makes us legitimately considering the possibility that ending our lives will make it easier for those around us and even for ourselves. Let that sink it. Death as something easier. Coping is hard no matter the healthy or unhealthy method being used, because coping isn’t a solution. But it’s something that can keep us going which is so important.

Therapy and medication are proven to help, but therapy isn’t always accessible and medication doesn’t always provide ideal help as often the side effects outweigh the positives. If you are capable of trying either of these methods, I encourage you to. But if you are unable to find at least one thing to keep you moving forward. It doesn’t matter how small that thing is or how insignificant you think it might be to someone else. It does not matter what it is long as it matters to you. For me it’s this quote. It’s not wanting to put those I care about through mourning and funerals.

So this is the story of how Kaz Brekker, the Bastard of the Barrel and a very seriously fictional character, showed me that spite and perseverance can be enough. That it’s okay if that’s enough. Because as long as there are no mourners and no funerals, everything will still be moving forward. And maybe that will be okay.

And, please, if you are depressed: tell someone. If you want to die: tell someone. If you have no one to tell, I will listen to all venting. Just send me an email. If you’re struggling, there is no need to struggle alone.


Thank you for coming to my TED Talk on my personal experiences coping with mental illness. If you skipped it, thank you for coming to this review.

Six of Crows takes The Grisha Trilogy to the level the world truly deserves. The third person perspective makes the narrative so much stronger and using what I’ve been calling “the A Song of Ice and Fire method”, switching between characters every chapter is great (and with a much more manageable cast size than ASOIAF).

The Dregs we meet in this book are Kaz Brekker – the ring leader and best known criminal in the slums of Ketterdam, Inej Ghafa – Kaz’s secret finder and Wraith of Ketterdam, Jesper Fahey – gunner, gambler, and secret Grisha, and Nina Zenik – ex-member of the Ravkan Second Army and known Heartrender. We also get to know the latest Dreg still proving himself, Wylan Van Eck – son of a promenant merchant and explosives expert, and Matthias Helvar – a Fjerdan Grisha hunter.

This band of misfits joins together for the biggest heist of their careers and wind up stuck in a trap bigger than they planned for.

I loved the way each character bonded and how their motivations were all so entirely different and yet they were still so supportive of each other. I loved how this book had my heart racing at every twist to the point that it actually took me almost three weeks to finish it (something unheard of when it comes to how fast I normally read).

The diversity of the characters and even how their different cultures kept clashing just made the world feel so much more real and alive than it did in The Grisha Trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, I am still a supporter of the original trilogy, but the growth in Leigh Bardugo’s writing is an absolute honour to see.

I do think that the best part of the book is definitely Kaz. I felt a real connection to him and his constant anger hidden behind fierce nonchalance and sass. I related to his dislike of being touched and appreciated that while his emotions changed throughout the story, that his ticks remained the same. He’s come to mean a lot to me, even if he is fictional.

While being very late to this party, I adored this book from cover to cover and once I have recovered from the ending, I look forward to the beauty that is my red sprayed hardcover of Crooked Kingdom that has been sitting on my shelf since release day.

Harry Potter and the Importance of Found Family

The most important thing to me about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is that, at it’s core, it is about friendship and being there when someone needs help. The inclusion of “found family” and destroying the concept of “blood is thicker than water” is just so, so important and after recent events, I felt that it was an important time to talk about it.

If you follow me on Twitter or even Instagram, you’ll know that ten days ago, I received a devastating phone call. A phone call that informed me that my 12-year-old cousin ended her life. This was a little girl who always wanted to know what I thought about Harry Potter, who our favourite characters were, what houses we were in. This was a little girl who texted me in the early hours of the morning to ask me if it was okay that she was a Ravenclaw. This was one of the few of my relatives who, for once, I could actually have a bond with despite all the age gaps.

My family has never been particularly close. There are huge age gaps between everyone and that created a divide early on and that has only been made worse by becoming spread out around the province. Because of that, I tended to hide away in books and envied characters with strong family relationships or tight-knit friend groups. This especially was true when it came to Harry Potter. Never having had the kind of connections that Harry had with his friends, their families, and even his adopted father figures were so important to me as a kid, and still even now.

It is so important for kids to know that things may be rough, but the people who matter the most are the ones we choose to share and spend our lives with and I think that is the most important lesson in these books I very seriously grew up with. I miss my cousin and have no idea on how to go about processing the fact that she’s gone let alone moving through it. But what I am thankful for is that Harry also went through losses. He lost both of his father figures – Remus and Sirius – on top of his mentor, Albus Dumbledore. His strength when it seems like his world is entirely crumbling around him, and even Harry knew he was never truly on his own.

It takes strength to move on through tragedies, and it can be hard to ask for help when things just feel so utterly terrible. But even when you don’t know how to ask, keep people close and tell them you love them. And always remember:

“The ones that love us never truly leave us.” – Sirius Black


REVIEW: Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide (2nd Edition) is a collection of tips on how to deal with those suffering from suicidal thoughts and depression mingled in with real stories of people’s experiences with losing the people in their lives to suicide.

Being non-fiction, the format of this review will be a little different from my usual, but the point will stay the same.

Right off the bat, author Jane Leder mentions losing her brother and several other people to suicide and how it effected her. She then goes on to describe the ever-changing and increasingly more horrible statistics of teen suicide, breaking it down by age group and minority. These statistics are incredibly sad to read, but important to know, and I for one respected how Leder separately divided the stat numbers for those with differing sexual orientation from those who identify as transgender – especially since the stats greatly differ to a heartbreaking extent.

When it came to the retellings of the experiences of others, it was difficult to get through them. I also made the mistake of reading the entire book within a night and as someone who does not shy away from the fact that I, too, have attempted suicide in my past, it was rough to hear about so many who didn’t make it past their hardships. That being said, I think that if you are a person of any age struggling with suicidal ideation or urges, this book may help you find that little light in the dark that proves you’re not alone with these feelings. If anything, this is the first book I’ve come across that doesn’t try and shame anyone. This is a book that wants to help people without pitying them and to educate those who want to help but don’t know how to start.

Talking about suicide is hard. Dealing with suicide is hard. But we need to stick together, help those who may not know how to help themselves, and make sure that we can get through things together. This is an excellent learning tool that tells the truth and doesn’t beat around the bush.

Final Rating: ★★★★½

36239713Published: January 23rd 2018

Summary: Are you under a lot of stress? Feeling too much pressure to get good grades? Trying to avoid social media because you’re being bullied? Grappling with your sexual/gender identity? Feeling depressed—even suicidal?

What are the reasons why teens decide to take their own lives? What can be done to stop them? Through stories, studies and strategies, Dead Serious helps teens, parents and educators navigate the choppy waters of adolescence and provides tools that can help break the cycle of teen suicide.