A Life in Books: Leigh Bardugo

Posted by Goodreads on September 12, 2016
Leigh Bardugo
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In her bestselling The Grisha trilogy, Leigh Bardugo captivated readers with her intricately imagined, Tsarist Russia-inspired fantasy world. Legions of fans followed the adventures of orphan Alina Starkov as she trained with the mysterious Grisha and discovered a dormant power that could help save her war-ravaged nation of Ravka. Bardugo returned to the Grishaverse with 2015's Six of Crows, which tracked budding criminal Kaz Brekker as he recruited five fellow teens for a seemingly impossible heist. Now Crooked Kingdom, part two of the series, plunges readers back into high-stakes turmoil and conflict as Kaz and his crew fight for their lives and a war wages that will determine the Grisha world's fate. Bardugo tells Goodreads about the books that sparked her love of fantasy, her favorite heist novels, and the underrated titles every fantasy fan should read.

What book made you fall in love with fantasy?

Tough question. As a kid, I was obsessed with Catwitch by Lisa Tuttle and Una Woodruff. I'm not even sure it's in print anymore, but it had pages and pages of lavish full-color illustrations, faeries, talking animals, an evil real estate developer, and a killer plot twist. It was like Young Leigh's id all over the page. I also need to mention Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak. It sparked this connection between the fantastic and the sinister for me that I still gravitate toward.


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Ketterdam is very much the heart of the Six of Crows duology. What book's fictional city have you found most inspiring?

I guess it isn't strictly fictional, but I love the London of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. And I'd never want to spend time in George R.R. Martin's Iron Islands, but they're a beautifully constructed, thoroughly cohesive piece of world building, and one of my favorite examples of "geography as destiny." Also, that man writes misery and squalor like nobody's business.

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As Crooked Kingdom opens, Kaz Brekker and his band of dangerous outcasts have pulled off an impossible heist. What's your favorite heist novel?

I love the clever, seemingly effortless way Ally Carter constructs her Heist Society books. Also, Holly Black's Curse Workers is one of my favorite YA series, and it's full of delicious cons and scams. We all did a lot of commiserating while I was working on the duology. Heist novels are heists in themselves. You can plan all you want, but invariably something goes horribly wrong and then you've got to fight your way out.

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What's an underrated book you think every fantasy fan should read?

Actually, Curse Workers, for sure. The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner is brilliant fantasy—smart, twisty, and populated by some of my favorite characters in all of fiction. I'm also saddened that more people don't read Diana Wynne Jones. I'll mention Howl's Moving Castle at an event, and the response is almost always, "I love that movie!" But the book is so radically different from the film, and the story has this extraordinary shape-shifting quality. It's like it takes on a completely different form depending on your age when you read it.

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What are you reading right now?

My brain likes to be working on nonfiction and fiction at the same time, so right now I'm reading On the Origins of War by Donald Kagan, and I'm about to start Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova. I also just finished the delightful The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli.

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Can't get enough of Kaz, Inej, Nina, and the rest of the crew? Join The Grishaverse group on Goodreads to take part in an epic Six of Crows re-read!

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Charity (new)

Charity I thought I was the only person who knew about the wonder that is Catwitch! That has to be my favourite illustrated book of all time. And you picked Outside Over There! Which is my favourite Sendak title too. Good choices all around. Now I want to reread Catwitch!


Kat Drennan-Scace SO many amazing picks!! I haven't read Howl's Moving Castle, but adding it to my TBR list ASAP :) Thanks for the great picks & can't wait for Crooked Kingdom to come out!


message 3: by Anna (new)

Anna Bright Howl's Moving Castle is SO underappreciated! Love the love!


message 4: by Jean (new)

Jean My sons loved "Outside Over There." Our favorite Sendak book.


message 5: by Angel (new)

Angel Whoohoo, shout out for The Queen's Thief series!


message 6: by Anne (new)

Anne Howl's Moving Castle has been my favorite book since 1986. I read it at least once a year. More people should know about Diana Wynne Jones, as she was a wonderful author.


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