I had the audiobook of this novel and it was the best audio performance! With a talented cast for each character, we were treated to the cold, strict Matthias, the always flirtatious Nina and the all-important leader of the motley crew, Kaz Brekker.
Set in the same world as Shadow & Bone full of Grisha witches, Fjerdan hunters and sadist Shu scientist. Hundreds of leagues away in Ketterdam, in a gang-infested area known as the Barrel, we start by following the Dregs lieutenant Kaz Brekker and his right-hand woman, Inej the Wraith, as they deal with gang politics and schemes. Kaz is offered a fortune in exchange for one thing; rescue a genius scientist from the Fjerdan Ice Court. Caught between the possibility of a life-changing reward and the risk of stealing the world’s most sort after man from a fortress that has never been breached – or escaped from – Kaz assembles a small, desperate team.
Inej, aka the Wraith, is a skilled and agile spy that can get into anywhere without being seen or heard. Her physical abilities and limits had me questioning whether she had some sort of unique magic that gave her the abilities of her namesake. I instantly loved her and found her amazing to read as she scaled impossible heights on slick surfaces and performed acts of agility that would put a gold medal gymnast to shame.
Just like Inej, I loved Nina from her first scene. It was great to see a plus-size woman with such confidence, skill and strength. As a plus-size woman myself, I found her to be a true heroine, and I was desperate to find out more about her. A Heartrender from Ravka (with a link to Zoya from the Shadow & Bone trilogy) was not someone I expected to see associating with the Dregs. But she was just the woman for the job, when she wasn’t flirty with anything that moved. To make her even more intriguing, she had a complicated ‘relationship’ with Mathias that had me questioning whether they had once been lovers or enemies.
Another member of the Dregs gang was Jesper, a skilled sharpshooter. He was a constant joker, with one sarcastic quip or another, not really someone you’d want on your secret, stealth mission. But give him a gun, and he demonstrated why he was such a valuable member of the team. He had a few good surprises to him and was always entertaining, especially when he was teasing Wylan.
An ex Fjerdan Druskella witch hunter, Matthias was more than unwilling to help Kaz. But, as Kaz always does, he had more than enough to persuade the brooding warrior. As I said before his relationship with Nina was complicated – the first time we meet him, he tries to kill her – but as we follow him, we learn that he is more than just a brutal, unfeeling fanatic. Surprisingly, he became one of my favourites, and I longed for him and Nina to overcome their complications to finally admit the way they feel about one another!
Wylan did not seem ready for the mission. He’d only been in the Barrel a few months when Kaz recruited him for their insane job, and you had to question why someone so inexperienced would join what is essentially a suicide mission. He had a surprising backstory, with some personal struggles I could really relate to. The entire story I kept wishing Wylan would be safe, he was so kind and compassionate that he seemed he would make the perfect target. But Wylan managed to hold his own amongst the group and even showed a real strength that made him a wonderful character.
Kaz Brekker, the lieutenant of the Dregs and leader of the mission, was more than a criminal prodigy, he was a genius! He thought through every risk, every possibility, every worst-case scenario and had a plan for each. He was cold, unfeeling and ruthless, which made me pity any who crossed him, or anyone foolish enough to care for him. His personal motivation and backstory had me reeling, and you could truly understand why he became the man he is and why he is willing to go to any length. I pitied him and the boy he once was, though I must admit he made for a fantastic character to lead our team of unlikely heroes.
Each character had a painful and emotional backstory that demonstrated how anyone, from any class, wealth, family or country, could end up in a dangerous, bloodthirsty place like the Barrel. Each of them is merely trying to survive, and you have to respect their strength to have gone through such traumatic and heartbreaking situations and make it out sane. Kaz and Inej’s stories were particularly painful, and though it allowed us to understand each better, I couldn’t help but see it as proof that these strong individuals should be together.
I loved this story, it is my favourite thief novel! The performances of the voice actors were incredible, I’d find myself pausing in my task just to listen to the shocking twists and turns and the sheer emotion in their voices. I already loved the Grisha world and the previous trilogy, but this book took a drastically different look at the world, and I was surprised by how much I loved it. I give it 5/5 and am dying to read the next book!
PS. There’s talk that they may be making this epic book into a series on Netflix and I can not tell you how excited am! This would make for a fantastic, drama-filled series and I can’t wait to see what they do with it.