Book Review: Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo


Rating:  ★★★1/2

I was very excited about Into the Crooked Place because the blurb was giving me strong Six of Crows vibes.  I guess they call this gangster fantasy these days?  While parts of it does feel like SoC, overall the book missed the mark a little for me.

The world building was pretty good.  Christo imbued the setting with seemingly sufficient grit.  There’s history.  There’s buskers peddling magic.  The magic itself I struggled with a lot.  It often felt like there weren’t any strict rules, some of it felt “hand wavey” if you will, which I occasionally struggled with.  Wesley “summons” charms from his skin?  There wasn’t a lot of explanation about where the charms come from or how they get their specific powers.

Another thing I struggled with, is it’s explained initially there is no new magic, so anything the buskers sell is somehow recycled or a trick.  But where was it recycled from?  Is there that much illicit magic laying around that 50-100 buskers in several different cities can afford to sell many of these charms and potions every night?  I felt like I was just supposed to take all this at face value.

The characters were all great and yet I often felt like I wasn’t connecting.  There was funny banter and wit and sass galore, a f/f relationship/romance that I actually did enjoy.  But often a chapter would devolve into the character’s inner monologue about their significant/desired other and that often took me out of the story a bit.  I think the story would have been sufficient with just Karam’s and Saxony’s romance, because that one felt relatively effortless, while Wesley and Tavia’s romance/flirtations, often felt shoehorned in.

The plot was okay.  It was high action, but a lot of the action could have been skipped without any detriment to the story.  There were several fist fights that felt like we were seeing them just to show how tough Wesley or Karam were.  There were a lot of training scenes.  It’s just not my favorite way to read action in a book.  I cared about the fights against the bad guys, not so much the fights and the training amongst themselves.

The other thing I want to note- I finished this on Saturday, less than a week ago.  And I am struggling to remember lots of the details.  It wasn’t an unenjoyable experience, but it simply wasn’t that memorable.

Into the Crooked Place released on October 8, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher for sending a copy in exchange for a review.

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

  1. It’s tough, there are so many great books on there, I feel like some of them just blend together after a while though. I’ve had that experience recently where I was really struggling to remember what actually happened in one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I kept forgetting I’d even read it! It got to be Sunday and I had already finished another book and was nearing the end of another, and just blanked that this one needed a review first. Really not a good sign.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Huh, this doesn’t sound at all like what I would have expected from that cover. (Not that I’m sure WHAT I expected from the cover.) And I agree about training scenes in books. Training montages are fun in movies, but that’s usually because of the soundtrack and not the fake fighting. They’re a lot harder to do well in books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah it was just annoying the training montage. I ended up skipping most of them. It was supposed to “show” how knowledgeable the characters were at fighting, but it just came off as obvious and forced a little.

      And I agree about the cover/title. I guess it makes more sense in retrospect. There are references to some crooked places where the buskers live and such, but I think the actual Crooked place is never referred to as such.


  3. Great review Sarah! You’ve summed up your thoughts on this book so well. I dislike when authors add romance in just for the sake of it and not necessarily because the story or characters need it. I’ll probably not read this one but I’m glad that you somewhat enjoyed it 😀 Jen

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  5. Too many explanations could weigh down a story, granted, but this one sounds like it asks its readers to take too many leaps of faith – or to supply their own details… But I think my main contention would be the inner monologues: these usually have me running for the hills! 😀
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review, Sarah – and I know only too well what you mean about the actions scenes. There’s a golden rule that no scene (including the training/action/interior dialogue moments) should make the final cut UNLESS it advances the overall story. I’m guessing the reason this book was ultimately forgettable was that because those scenes weren’t freighted with any real tension, or advanced the plot, they didn’t engage your emotion. So you didn’t remember them…

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes… I recall students protesting that a scene needed to be included for extra characterisation, etc, etc – and I always maintained that if you didn’t also advance the plot in some way, then you should cut it. Window dressing is a very good way of expressing it!

        Liked by 1 person

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