Review: The Language of Thorns

Leigh Bardugo’s magical collection of folk tales from the world of the Grisha is full of stories that are both familiar and enchanting and dark and chilling. Experience a few of your favourites from a new and staggeringly real point of view.

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.

Bardugo strikes again! I have so much love for this woman and her mind. I was enchanted from page one and the book didn’t let me go until it was over. The Language of Thorns is a collection of six tales. These take place in the world of the Grisha but you will find the general themes of them very familiar. I wouldn’t go as far as call them retellings but Bardugo is great at taking something you know so well and completely turning it around in ways you never even considered. And all of a sudden, tales that inspired you and helped you fall asleep when you were little send a shiver down your spine and leave you with an uncomfortable feeling that nothing you know is as it seems. Because every villain was once young and innocent and every betrayal comes from a place of hurt.

“Some people are born with a piece of night inside”

Bardugo’s writing is at it’s absolute best ( I swear I say this every time I review one of her books). Magical and mysterious atmosphere leaks from the pages with every word and stunning illustrations that change and evolve on every page make the experience all-the-more special.

It is difficult to review a collection of stories so I decided to do a mini-review of one of them so you get a better idea of what you’re in for:

The Witch of Duva

“There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls.”

The first sentence of the story alone is enough to get me excited for reading. Because it’s a companion short story to the Grisha trilogy, there is almost no world building. This, however, doesn’t impact the reading experience at all. Whether you are familiar with the world or you are completely new to it, you will enjoy it all the same. It reads like a horror folk tale, something to scare the little children with so they don’t wander off into the woods. And I absolutely loved the chilling atmosphere. In its 34 pages, it is scary, gripping and surprising from start to finish.
Even on my best days, I am not very good at anticipating plot twists, but this one actually made me gasp with surprise. I am not going to spoil it for you, but the message of the story is clear. The real dangers are usually much closer to home than we would like and:

“Dark things have a way of slipping in through narrow spaces.”

I can’t say much more without completely ruining the magic. So I’ll just say that I would recommend this beautiful book to everyone who likes to get lost in enchanted forests and lands of fantasy but isn’t afraid to admit that not every prince is charming and more often than not, damsels in distress have to save themselves.

“We were not made to please princes”

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