Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Imprint
Genre: young adult fantasy, fairy tales
Format/Source: hardcover, purchased from SEVERAL stores
Status: part of the Grishaverse

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. 

Okay, well, THAT was just gorgeous. I already loved "Little Knife," "The Too-Clever Fox," and "The Witch of Duva," but the other three stories were absolutely enchanting, and the illustrations added a surprisingly fun visual element.

Leigh's writing is just getting better and better, in my opinion. Maybe it's because she had more time to think about the non-Ravkan tales or that they could be longer, but I thought "Ayama and the Thorn Wood," "The Soldier Prince," and "When Water Sang Fire" were more strongly developed and the writing even more captivating. Every word is lush, dripping with honey and vinegar and sugar and spice. This collection of tales is incredibly sensory; in every tale I felt drawn in, like I could see, hear, feel, smell, and taste everything from the quince flowers in the wood to the witch's feasts to the cool waters off Fjerda. I really appreciate when a book contains such allure!

I love that this collection is a throwback to the original dark fairy tales. I think a lot of us grew up with the prettified versions of most fairy tales (*sarcasm* thanks, Disney!) (*unsarcasm* okay, but I did LOVE Disney's versions, obviously), but The Language of Thorns recreates the dark, eerie feel of Hansel and Gretel and The Little Mermaid. The tales were still recognizable—for instance, I knew "The Soldier Prince" was The Nutcracker immediately—but they're dark and twisty, a little malevolent, a little misunderstood, a lot morally gray. And in my opinion, that's where Leigh really shines. She's SO GOOD at exploring characters who are a little bit wicked, a little bit honorable.

It was awesome to flip each page and search for the new addition to the overall picture and try to guess how the final product would look. Sometimes the change was super subtle so it was like a fairy tale where's Waldo! I feel like sometimes YA and adult don't have those clever, engaging elements that are super common in picture books. It was absolutely a fun surprise to see the illustrations evolve throughout the story until it became one massive illustration at the end. And although the two-toned orange and blue did not work for me in Wires & Nerve, I was totally cool with the blue and red two-toned illustrations in Thorns. That might be because Thorns is merely an illustrated book of tales while Wires is a full-length graphic novel, but it could also be because the blue and teal are just more pleasing to the eye.

All in all, Grisha fans are going to love this book because duh, but anyone who enjoys fairy tales should like Leigh's reimaginings. I think the only way the collection as a whole could be better is if there were more stories. I would have loved more tales for each land as well as at least one story for the Wandering Isle and Shu Han. Also some Suli influence because YOU KNOW they have some tales to tell! I'll forgive Leigh and Macmillan this oversight if they agree to The Language of Thorns Part II

Purchase Links:
About the Author:
Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of the Six of Crows duology and the Shadow and Bone trilogy, as well as the upcoming Wonder Woman: Warbringer (Aug 2017) and The Language of Thorns (Sept 2017).

She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

She would be delighted if you followed her on Twitter, elated if you visited her web site, and fairly giddy if you liked her selfies on Instagram.

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1 comment:

  1. This sounds like an interesting world of dangerous magic!