Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

34076952The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: 
September 26th, 2017 by Orion Children’s Books
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: 
Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy-tales, Retelling.
Find:
Goodreads | Amazon
Goodreads Summary
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.


The Language of Thorns makes up a collection of fairy-tales set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse. The tales are richly imaginative and eerily sinister. It is a remarkable and captivating collection and drives home some human truths and hidden dangers relevant to modern society. It is easy to see how some of our classic fairy tales like The Little Mermaid and Hansel and Gretel have influenced the collection, but the difference is just how dark these tales are. Things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows in these tales and happily ever afters are scarce. What we do get are a series of unpredictable twists and clever narratives that have a constant sense of unease and dread to them.

Accompanying these tales are a series of stunning illustrations by Sara Kipin. These illustrations are dotted on every page and compliment the stories. It enhances everything about the tales, especially the tone and atmosphere intended in the narrative. As the tales progress so do the illustrations and it makes the experience utterly captivating. This is a book that should be experienced in its physical format because that way you get that full experience benefitting from having the narrative and illustrations work in conjunction with one another.

The tales themselves are exquisite. Each tale are related to a region within the Grishaverse and for fans of Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology and Grisha trilogy, you can see how the tales relate to some of the associated characteristics with each region, and can even make the connection between the tales and characters within the series. It’s subtle, but fans of both series will appreciate that nod to the Grishaverse.

There’s also a strong emphasis on women in these tales. While the tales are dark and twisted in their nature, there is also a feeling of empowerment in the way the women in these tales present themselves. The tales do a phenomenal job at highlighting the varieties of strength within these women. Whether it’s through their cunningness, their quiet bouts of bravery or their desire for more than what was destined for them, every woman in this tale has a part to play. Out of each tale, this is seen clearest in the final tale, When Water Sang Fire. This story could easily serve as Ursula’s origin story. It’s a tale of deceit and explores a multitude of questions relating to sacrifice and the prices we pay to achieve our greatest ambitions. It’s a story of two unlikely women forging a path of greatness, and how greatness can be manipulated and festered by the greed of others. It’s a harrowing tale, but a perfect conclusion to this collection of sinister tales. 

What was your favourite tale in The Language of Thorns?
What’s your favourite fairy tale?

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17 thoughts on “Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Such a great review, Lois! I definitely agree that it should be experienced in physical form, it’s just that much more atmospheric. My favourite tale was the first one with the beast. I loved how they changed the view of the villagers and made them less shallow. I also enjoyed how the sister/brother weren’t vilified.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The first tale was definitely the best one to kick things off and set the tone for the book. It’s definitely up there in the top 3 favourites from the book and yes to having supportive siblings. We need more of that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Eek! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this one so much. It is on my March TBR, so I will be definitely getting to it soon. When I attending Bardugo’s book tour for this book, she mentioned that she wanted to explore those feelings of discomfort she had while reading the classic fairytales… Sounds like she succeeded!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay…that’s it…I MUST start reading her books! There’s so many of them that apparently tie in with one another, so I’m going to have to be careful with which one I read first ha-ha! So many of my friends have gone on and on about this book! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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