Title: “Language of Thorns”
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pages (hardcover): 281 pages
Original Publishing Date: 26 September 2017
Synopsis (from the inside flap):
“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.”
Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:
- self-harm (for magic) (The Witch of Duva and When Water Sang Fire)
- pedophilia(?) (The Witch of Duva)
- cannibalism(?) (The Witch of Duva)
Representation in the novel:
- m/m couple
- f/f couple
- characters of color
Note: The titles next to certain content warnings indicate which stories they’re in; if there isn’t a title, then it’s in most, if not all, of the stories. Also, I wasn’t too sure about the warnings with question marks next to them: it was more of a inference than anything, but I’m not absolutely certain.
I usually don’t read short stories, much less a collection of them. But maybe I should branch out more because I really enjoyed most of these. Granted, that could be because it’s Leigh Bardugo, and as we all know, I am Leigh Bardugo trash, but still. They were lovely.
So, basically, The Language of Thorns is a collection of six short stories/fairy tales from various countries around the Grishaverse. Here’s how they pan out: there is one Zemeni fairy tale, three Ravkan fairy tales, one Kerch fairy tale, and one Fjerdan fairy tale.
I think it might be easier to do mini-reviews for each, instead of doing an overall review since they are all different stories. So the first rating right up there is a rating for the whole book, and then there will be individual ratings for each story.
Ayama and the Thorn Wood
I thought this short story was a really strong way to start out the novel. I loved Ayama and the beast, as well as their interactions. I enjoyed how Ayama twisted the endings of the stories to reveal a bit of herself to the beast. Overall, I thought it was a really cute story. And that full illustration at the end? Absolutely gorgeous.
The Too Clever Fox
At first, this story seemed a little slow, and I wasn’t quite sure what I thought about it. I was kind of let down because I jumped straight into it after the first story. But as it went on, I learned to like it more and more. I knew I probably should have seen the ending coming, but I was surprised nonetheless. Again, that last picture? I want it framed on my wall.
The Witch of Duva
Again, I thought it was slow in the beginning, up until the second half. For me, it seemed just a bit too long, with the introduction and all that. But I liked the Hansel and Gretel vibe it had, and it had a few twists and turns, especially near the end. And then the very end….my goodness.
Listen. Listen, listen, listen. I loved this story. It seemed kind of odd in the beginning, but I could see where it was going halfway through (partly because I took a glimpse at the end illustration), and I was so excited. I just. Loved it. A lot.
The Soldier Prince
Out of all of them, this one is probably my least favorite. I’m not really much of a Nutcracker fan to begin with, so even if it was loosely based on it…meh. It was still a pretty good story, but it didn’t really hold my attention as well as the other stories did. It was still a nice story, but I don’t think it was as captivating as the other ones.
When Water Sang Fire
Since the novel started with a strong story, it would make sense that it would end with one, too. I believe that this is the longest story out of the six, and I absolutely loved every moment of it. I was constantly kept on my toes as I was reading because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, so that climax…really took me by surprise. I really loved how the side illustrations on the pages evolved, too.
So, yeah, overall I thought most of these short stories/fairy tales were amazing. Of course, I always love Leigh Bardugo’s work, and I hope she continues making some great stuff.
Let me know your thoughts on my review or the book itself by commenting!
Until next time~