Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

1:31 AM

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo | Rating: ★★★★★

“You see, some people are born with a piece of night inside, and that hollow place can never be filled—not with all the good food or sunshine in the world. That emptiness cannot be banished, and so some days we wake with the feeling of the wind blowing through, and we must simply endure it as the boy did.”  

Okay. You should know something about me, first: I love fairytales.With all my heart. There's nothing like a good tale that gets the blood flowing, right? The problem with collections of fairytales that are tied into novels is, that a lot of the time they just aren't good. At first, despite how much I adore Bardugo's writing, I was skeptical of The Language of Thorns. I haven't had luck with many of these sorts of short stories, save Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. So, naturally, I had my expectations quite low.

Within the first story, I was captivated and compelled to read more. For a time, I felt as though these were fairytales of a different age. Bardugo has her signature all over it--from settings, to prose. But it feels classic already. Completely and beautifully a world of its own. What strikes me about the way it is written is that you certainly feel as if someone is reading the stories out loud to you, huddled near a fire in the dead of winter. The Language of Thorns embraces you and ties you into that feeling of nostalgia and unease that comes with all the classic fairytales we knew as children.

These aren't our fairytales. Yet, they are. I felt so very close to the heart of the Grisha Verse. Further, I felt butterflies in my stomach the more I flipped through the pages. As for the artwork, it provides us with another pair of eyes. The colouring is gorgeous and sets off our imaginations into the stories as we go. Everything ties together beautifully and captures that feeling of nostalgia I mentioned earlier. There is not a single sloppy thing about the collection.

Because I don't want to spoil every little detail from all six of the stories, I will briefly countdown the ones I consider to be my favourite--in order. It was really hard to not just gush about each and every one of these tales, but I don't want to overwhelm or share all the secrets instead:

  • When Water Sang Fire. All of these stories have that magical edge of newness but When Water Sang Fire is the perfect combination of when old meets new. It's familiar to us, but new and unique. It's crafted gorgeously and with care. You are left feeling uneasy and lightheaded in the best way possible. Of all the six, this one felt the most like a childhood's tale of our own. It had just enough sprinkled in there to make it its own story. I loved it.
  • The most unexpected story for me was The Witch of Duva. I don't mean that I didn't see the big plot-twist unraveling, because I did. I mean to say it was the one that stuck with me really easily by the time I finished it. When I think of this collection, I will probably think first of this one. There's something unforgettable and chilling about it. 
  • The Soldier Prince was just all around brilliant. It captures so much in such a short period of time that readers can't help but to love it. Just. Plain. Stunning. 
I can never seem to put a Leigh Bardugo book down and with every release I say, "THIS IS HER BEST ONE YET!" and truly mean it in the moment. The Language of Thorns may not be one simple story, but it's amongst the best of the year.  Just as it always is, Bardugo showcases her flawless story telling skills and weaves her readers into her web of magic. To say it is breathtaking would be an injustice, there are simply no words to how fantastic she is.

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