Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

September 28, 2017     erinthebooknut     Book review

Language of Thorns by Leigh BardugoThe Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo, Sara Kipin
Published by Macmillan/Imprint on September 26th 2017
Pages: 224

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

5 Nuts

Welp, looks like I’ve tripped and fallen down the Bardugo rabbit hole again. I’m always up for new Grisha content so when I heard about this book of course I preordered it even though I own ebooks of all 3 Ravkan tales. However, even though I own them all I’d only actually read “The Too Clever Fox” before. My TBR has just been too massive.

So, for this review I will talk about the book as a whole as well as the stories individually. Like JK Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard, these stories are folk tales set in the world of our characters. These are the stories they would have grown up hearing, that would have shaped them as children. And of course, they also have roots in out own fairy tales, but subvert the usual endings.

Though I thought JKR’s TALES were mostly ok, Bardugo’s are AMAZING! I love the trope subversion, I love the gorgeous writing that Bardugo has crafted. It is a beautiful book to behold in both content and looks. The stories are wonderfully reworked into some of the most creative folk/fairy tale retellings I’ve ever seen. And I adore them.

Not only that but this book is absolutely gorgeous. From the inlaid Grisha symbol under the cover to the colored text to the fabulous art that changes and adds from page to page. I particularly love the piece of art at the end of each story, showing the characters in their moments of glory.

Ayama and The Thorn Wood

This story is from Zemeni and is a retelling of a sort of Beauty and the Beast and also kind of a Shaharisad feel in the loosest sense. Most of the tales take a pretty loose take on real life fairy tales but this is probably one of the more obvious ones. I loved this story, how it told stories within stories without being too choppy. It’s a great way to introduce the book and the style of the creeping maze and brambles on the sides made it all the better.

The Too Clever Fox

This is probably my least favorite story of the set. Not that it’s bad or anything, it’s a good story for sure. The art is beautifully done and the story is solid. It just doesn’t have the power that a lot of the other stories in this collection do.

Out of all of the tales this is probably the most cautionary, the most lesson-y. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not. This is the only one of the set that I had read before so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it but it does feel a little like the story beats you over the head wit its point.

The Witch of Duva

Another of the Ravkan tales, this story is one of my favorites. Probably number 2 or so. This is your Hansel and Gretal retelling, turned on its head and reworked into something a hundred times better than the original. This story makes me want to call myself a witch, and I love every second.

This story also features some of my favorite art in the book. Though I’ve technically owned this story for a few years now I hadn’t had a chance to read it yet. I wish I hadn’t waited so long but being accompanied by such fantastic illustrations made the reading experience that much better. Highly recommend, even if you’ve already read it before.

Little Knife

 This is the last of the Ravkan tales and another than I don’t have much of an attachment to. It’s a good story with your usual more lesson, but again like Too Clever Fox, doesn’t have the power that some of the other stories in the collection do.

Unlike Too Clever Fox, there are a lot more characters to enjoy. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re people rather than animals (what am I saying, I always pick animals over people) but I just like a lot of these characters better. The Duke’s daughter Yeva is an interesting character, heck, I could read a whole book about her for sure. The river? OMG I love the river in this story. And the art at the end made me so happy. Yes girl! You go.

The Soldier Prince

Why hello, The Nutcracker. I mean, Soldier Prince. Yeah, whatever, it’s The Nutcracker. But better, way better. The names are all there if you look, but Kerch’d up a little as this this the folk tale from Kerch.

This is a great tale, I rooted so hard for the Prince. He so sweet, I wanted him to succeed and get everything he wanted and dreamed about. This is another character I would happily take an entire book about, as if he were real.

When Water Sang Fire

Yeah, ok, is anyone surprised that this is the best tale in the book? OR maybe that’s just me. This story is Fjerdian, and I loved every second. From the music to the characters to the top notch art. Yes! Give me more of this! I love how the color of the art changes from water to land. I love the Little Mermaid elements and the way Bardugo makes it her own. And guys, she really makes this one hers.

This is my favorite story of all and OMG do I want more Ulla. This was the perfect story to end on, it is without doubt the strongest in the book. The end art is the prettiest and most fierce of any in the entire book and I want it to put on my wall, please and thank you.

I’m totally a Grisha fangirl and this has not changed after this book. Now I’m even more excited for more Grisha, with King of Scars on the horizon. I haven’t been read to let the Six of Crows storyline end but it might be time to finally give CROOKED KINGDOM a go.

What is your favorite Grisha book/story? Share in the comments.

From my shelf to yours,



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