“Crooked Kingdom” Blog Tour: Nina

September 23, 2016


Crooked Kingdom – When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Calling all Grishaverse fans! It’s nearly time for the nail-bitingly anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling heist story Six of Crows. Join us on the Crooked Kingdom blog tour as author Leigh Bardugo shares what she loves about our tour stop character, Nina Zenik. See which moments from Six of Crows MuggleNet has picked as our top six things about Nina that capture why we love the voluptuous Grisha with a heart of gold and grit so much. PLUS enter the Crooked Kingdom blog tour prize giveaway in the comments below.

                                                                                                            six-of-crows-cover-image  crooked-kingdom-cover-image

“Previously on ‘Six of Crows’ we met six dangerous outcasts and watched as they took on one impossible heist. Having pulled off the impossible at the notorious Ice Court, Kaz Brekker and his crew were left double-crossed, low on resources, and crippled by a kidnapping. Now powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, whilst Nina fights off its powerful effects. Old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. In ‘Crooked Kingdom’, a war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.”

We’re on the edge of our seats with anticipation…and a little nervous about what’s in store for our beloved Crows!


leigh-bardugo-c-talli-song-rothSo why do we love the Crow that is Nina Zenik? Leigh joins us on the blog to explain one of the biggest reasons why Nina means so much both to her and to her fans:

“I’ve been surprised at how many people have reached out to tell me how much they love seeing a ‘plus size’ woman as a YA action hero and love interest. Honestly, it bums me out a bit because the idea of a fat, sexy girl who kicks ass shouldn’t be that surprising. (And respect to Julie Murphy, Becky Albertalli, and Rae Carson who have all written big heroines I adore.) We internalize a lot of false ideas about what you’re supposed to look like to be healthy, or loved, or successful, or tough. Nina doesn’t have time for that nonsense, and neither do I.”

As we Potterheads have had much to say over the years about the power and importance of representation on the page, we couldn’t agree more with Leigh’s Nina appreciation.


Nina Zenik “Queen of Hearts” art by Kevin Wada

Here are our top six reasons that MuggleNet loves Nina Zenik, the courageous witch who uses her wits and magic to survive terrible odds.

1) We first meet Nina through the eyes of Kaz, and our first impressions in Chapter 5 definitely reiterate what Leigh has to say. Nina is big, proud, and powerful. With this incredible description, we love her for representing fat, proud, confident women. 

“Nina Zenik stood behind him, swathed in the red silk kefta that advertised her status as a Grisha Heartrender…She was tall and built like the figurehead of a ship carved by a generous hand.”

2) We also love Nina’s patriotism and loyalty, which are marked by her kind heart and fierce protection of her homeland:

“Nina loved her country and loved her people. She still believed in the future of Ravka and the Second Army, the Grisha military elite that had nearly disintegrated during the civil war. Nina’s friends back in Ravka believed she was dead, a victim of Fjerdan witch-hunters, and for now, she wanted it to stay that way.”

Tied into this is the knowledge that no matter how much she may want to see her family, the loyalty of her heart belongs to one man and the past wrongdoing she has sworn to put right:

“Desperate as she’d been to return to her country, she’d known she couldn’t leave Matthias to languish in Hellgate.”

3) Passion is definitely a strong element of Nina’s character, and she blows Shakespeare out of the water with her love story. Move over Montagues and Capulets – Nina is one half of a Grisha and druskelle romance that puts the con in conflicted.

“She wouldn’t wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn’t be rid of.”

Witch-hunter Matthias has some mighty tangled thoughts when it comes to his emotions around seeing Nina again:

“Traitor, witch, abomination. All those words came to him, but others crowded in, too: beautiful, charmed one. Roed fetla, he’d called her, little red bird, for the color of her Grisha order. The color she loved.”

But of course, Nina often has some rather splendid flirtatious put downs to keep him in his place when he’s being difficult.

“Nina batted her glossy eyelashes at him. ‘You wouldn’t know a good time if it sidled up to you and stuck a lollipop in your mouth.’”

Their war of words fools no one, not even themselves! Swoon.

4) Magic and Grisha powers are a huge part of Nina’s character and upbringing. Magic as medicine isn’t strictly speaking part of Nina’s skillset as a Grisha Heartrender, whose responsibilities are more war and less recovery. But Nina understands enough about the magic to manipulate her powers to heal, and she is responsible for holding the Crows together, sometimes literally.

“Healers learned the intricate work of healing wounds, whilst Heartrenders became soldiers – experts at doing damage, not undoing it. It was a different way of thinking about what was essentially the same power…Nina wished her own school training hadn’t been so abbreviated.”

5) Friendship is another of Nina’s wonderful attributions, and her close relationship with the Wraith Suli girl Inej is a fan favorite. Female friendship is always well worth celebrating in fiction. Not only do their conversations pass the Bechdel test, but they also team up to save the Crows when the going gets tough. The Heartrender and the Wraith are an excellent pair (shout out to the shippers!) One of our favorite lighthearted scenes occurs after exchanging some personal history, bonding over hopeless and stubborn men, and a small instance of saving her life, when Inej requests Nina to sing:

“Nina snorted. ‘Only for you, Wraith.’”

6) Most importantly, Nina is a survivor. She escapes the clutches of slavers, survives in the freezing cold and drags a reluctant Matthias along with her, puts up with the dangerous exploits of the Crows, and at the end of the day, she’s the one using her incredible powers to save the day, time and again. We’re not giving a quote for this – you’ll just have to read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom to see Nina kicking butt!

Nina Zenik is a seriously impressive woman. We dare you not to fall in love with her. Need more convincing? Check out the amazing Nina fan art that Leigh has reblogged on her Tumblr.



From September 21 to September 26, bloggers in the US and UK will be paired up to share the secrets of Kaz’s crew as we count down to the publication of Crooked Kingdom.

But wait. There’s more! Enter to win a Crooked Kingdom prize pack full of US AND UK swag (including the coveted Crooked Kingdom socks) by commenting on all 12 blog posts by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, October 3, 2016.


About Leigh: Born in Jerusalem, Leigh grew up in Los Angeles and is a graduate of Yale. She has written for 20th Century Fox and LA Weekly, among others. For more in the Grishaverse, read the original trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising.

Find the world of SIX OF CROWS and CROOKED KINGDOM at www.grishaverse.com, and follow Leigh on Twitter @lbardugo #SixOfCrows #CrookedKingdom


  • Cardaisha Johnson

    I’m so excited for this book, and I really hope Nina makes it out okay.

  • fatma shahin

    I LOVE NINA SO MUCH. She’s hilarious and everything she loves and respects she gives 100% to. I wanna be her friend and go with her and Inej to get waffles. SO SO excited to see where she’ll go in Crooked Kingdom!

  • LaRonda

    Nina is my favorite character of this series . I relate to her so much I just … <3

  • Gaby Navarro

    Nina is definitely amazing! She really stands out and not because of how she looks like but her personality is so colorful and bright that you notice her and you can’t help but like her.

  • Dona

    Ooooh!!! All this Nina stuff is making it really hard for me to contain my excitement. I WANT CK RIGHT NOW. Nina is a beautiful soul and deserves all the love in the world. ?????????

  • Lira

    Nina and Inej’s friendship is one of the best parts of SoC! ?

  • megbrod

    Nina is DEFINITELY my favorite crow, I just finished scrolling through all the fan art tagged for her on Leigh’s tumblr ?

  • Justine

    Nina & Inej are my favourites!!!

  • Katie Passerotti

    I positively adore the friendship between Nina and Inej! #friendgoals

  • Jocelyne

    There are so many things to love about Nina! She could’ve left Matthias behind but she didn’t. Her friendship with Inej is also <3

  • Marcela Zambrana

    Nina is such a badass I love her

  • Meigan

    nina has my heart. she can just take it now.


    oh just please let her (and my heart) live AHHHH -meigan

  • Joanna R.

    Nina is a compelling character, and I can’t wait to read more about her and M!

  • Carbuncle Blue

    “We are all someone’s monster, Nina.” THREE DAYS!!!

  • Kami C.

    2 Days! Can’t wait to read more about Nina!

  • Tessa

    I love Nina so much. Her friendship with Inej was one of my favorite parts of Six of Crows.

  • Annilee

    I absolutely love Nina, and I’m sure that Crooked Kingdom will make me love her even more!

  • Theresa

    Love all the characters 🙂 Nina and Inej though <3

  • Angela

    Nina is a queen. She just is. I know Bardugo said not everyone will come out unscathed but I really hope Nina will push through!

  • Zairah Divino

    It took time before Nina grew on me, but I really need Crooked Kingdom to know that she’s okay.

  • Jacklin Updegraft

    Absolutely love Nina. She’s been my favorite character and I that’s saying something because I love all these characters. Crooked Kingdom is going be ROUGH!
    “You wouldn’t know a good time if it sidled up to you and stuck a lollipop in your mouth.” I giggled at this part. Freaking Nina and her sassy ways! I NEED to know what happens to her in CK!!!

  • Vivien

    Nina is so fantastic!! So badass!!

  • Alexa Bongala

    Nina is a BBW (big beautiful woman) and Im glad plus size girls are represented in the grishaverse. As a plus size woman myself, it makes me happy

  • Kat T.

    Nina has the best lines. I’m so excited for the new book that I’ve decided to re-read Six of Crows again.

  • Julie

    I love Nina! She’s such an awesome character, and it’s fun to see how she uses her powers.

  • Jennifer Strunk

    Best review of the blog tour yet! You pulled in so many great aspects of the character!!!
    Kudos to Leigh Bardugo for not only representing positive female friendships (which almost NEVER happens in YA) and a body-positive message as well by having such a strong female character!!! SO AMAZINGLY GLAD to be able to share these characters with our students!

  • Mithila

    You picked the most perfect parts for Nina!! I absolutely love this girl and everything she stands for and I love her humour! And ohmygosh, her friendship with Inej makes me so happy because they’re just AMAZING.

  • Anne C

    Nina seems pretty deadly. I like her already! My copy of Six of Crows is on the way and I can’t wait to read it!

  • Anne Consolacion

    Nina seems… pretty deadly. I like her!
    Crazy that I have not read the first book yet but a copy is on the way. Can’t wait!

  • Only one more sleep and we get CK!

  • Leah Hanson

    I’m re-reading Six of Crows, and I can never resist the hate each other/love each other relationship between Matthias and Nina. Crossing my fingers for them!

  • pennyo

    I am so excited to read these books! They sound fantastic. Thanks for the post and the giveaway!

  • Justine

    Nina is my spirit animal <3

  • Bruinbr

    Love Nina and the whole crew! Can’t wait to read crooked kingdom!!

  • Sarah Parks

    I love how Nina has such a different background than the rest of the people in Kaz’s group. I think she is one of the most passionate characters and I cannot wait to learn more about her.

  • Jhanna Kryukova

    Nina is a literal goddess.

  • Fay

    So excited for Crooked Kingdom!

  • Joanna R.

    I can’t wait to read CK and see what happens with Nina!

  • Alex U.

    I love Nina she is such a great character!

  • Hanah Hinton

    Nina is amazing!

  • Natalie Monroe

    I love Nina’s confidence in her own body. So glad you’re running this giveaway!

  • Nina was one of my favorite characters in SOC! I loved her spirit and I can’t wait to read CK soon!

  • kayla

    I LOVE Nina so much how spunky and strong she is!! I am in the middle of Crooked Kingdom and I feel like I am going to die because I don’t want the series to end yet!!!
    She is such a strong character and she is so sure of herself and her body! I love how much what she has done in the past defined her and how she is so sure of herself as a Grisha and how she uses that power.
    Its going to be so hard to part with her and the rest of the crew. The card that Kevin Wada did is so freaking beautiful and just shows how amazing we all know she is~~~
    BTW. The audio of this is amazing as well!~~~~~.

  • Lovely blog tour post 😀 Thank you for sharing. <3 Gosh, I love these books. Leigh is the best. And oh gosh, I adored Nina SO MUCH 😀 She is fierce and awesome and kind and sweet. I love this girl the most. I love them all 🙂

  • Hannah R

    Nina is such an incredible, strong character & Crooked Kingdom made me love her so much more !

  • Great post! I love Nina so much. She was the best in Crooked Kingdom. <3

  • Alice Moraes

    Nina is just the best character, with her love for waffles and all food and just being so empowering and a Grisha, ah, my love for her is strong