Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Date: September 26th 2017
Number of Pages: 281
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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.
Once again, I fell in love with Leigh Bardugo’s words. Her enchanting and addicting writing never allowed my grip to slip away. Leigh Bardugo is just undoubtedly an extraordinary storyteller. Dark, enchanting, mysterious, and dangerous fairy tales are what this collection offers. Although I loved these stories on different degrees, I still like them all in general. The Language of Thorns is just undoubtedly well-crafted. And when the back cover say, “a collection of six lavishly illustrated stories” you have to believe it.
Ayama and the Thorn Wood – 5/5
You know how the stories go. Interesting things only happen to pretty girls.
Only courage is required for an adventure.
Wow, wow, wow. I love this story so much. I love the writing. I was immersed right away. It felt like I was reading a bedtime story but is not actually meant for children. When the four babies were born I was amused, when the beast terrorized their land I was scared. I love the characters. I also love how deep the story became because of how we got to know Ayama, though I just wished – since it’s almost like the four of them are the main characters at first – that we also got to know the prince and Kami more. I also love how despite their physical differences, it was apparent that the sisters love each other and how their grandma disguised her good intentions, which both touched my heart. There are also three more tales within this tale, which I was also in love with. The twist made me feel equally shocked, amused and happy. This tale also teach lessons. I wish I had known this tale when I was little. Ayama and the Thorn Wood is creative, inspiring, empowering, and a beautiful but dark fairy tale. I can’t praise this enough.
The Too-Clever Fox – 5/5
The trap is loneliness. And none of us escapes it.
In the wood, even songbirds must be survivors.
First thing that amazed me was the protagonist, which is a fox named Koja, and the fact that he is talking along with all the other animals in this story. I’ve never read a story like this before (probably as a child, yes, but how can I remember? And this isn’t a children’s book mind you). This is highly entertaining and undoubtedly a refreshing tale of a fox. This is also funny. Koja indeed, is cleaver. He also keeps his promise. Actually, what a great fox! I also loved the friendship portrayed between animals. It pinched and made my heart ache at some point. I feel bad for animals and feel angry for hunters. If you are an animal lover, I’ll guarantee you’ll enjoy this too. Though I was able to finally figure the twist of the story before it was revealed, I still have to give this credit for it took me a bit of a time to figure that out. I love the end. I love how the other animals treated Koja and Lulu even after what happened. Just proves how good of creatures they are despite of their tendencies to become aggressive in order to survive. I love the whole story. It was great from start to finish. The Too-Clever Fox left me happy but still wanting more.
The Witch of Duva – 4/5
This is one of the very few instances where I encounter a character with the same name as mine so I was a little more excited to read this and meet that character.
It is still a beautiful tale but it is somehow predictable. And it was a bit of cliché for a fairy tale given the role of Karina, the step mother and Nadja as the daughter who doesn’t like her stepmother and vice versa. The Witch of Duva definitely took me by surprise. This made me realize that it was wrong for me to underestimate it and assume that it was that cliche. It may sound weird but I didn’t hate Nadja’s relationship with Magda, the witch. Actually, I kind of like it. Because despite her being a witch, Nadja was happier with her than she was in her own home, though I was still sad about her father. I wish Nadja just fought to be beside him. I find this cute and weird and dark and sad and wicked and tragic and a little bit disgusting but still a great story. There’s just a part I didn’t totally get and left me confused until the story was over (and annoyed because I was confused).
Little Knife – 4/5
This one features a Grisha. I found this story a kind of funny at first but that’s just on the beginning. I’ve heard a tale similar to the concept. There’s also still a little detail that was left unclear to me. Further, the end wasn’t really predictable but wasn’t that shocking either. But still, I enjoyed this one. I love the story despite being not that unique, because of the new touch Leigh Bardugo gave. This is more of a tale that teaches lessons than gives entertainment. And I love that I was made to think that this is Samyeon’s story then figured sooner to the end that it wasn’t – it’s the river and the Princess’. So lovely.
The Soldier Prince – 3.5/5
Wanting is why people get up in the morning. It gives them something to dream of at night.
Somehow fascinating and a little bit crazy and mystical. The Soldier Prince reminded me of Barbie and the Nutcracker. It’s really not unique for me anymore but I like how it talks about wanting and how as individuals, we all want different things and asks whose wants should we prioritize? Whose wants should we listen to, is it ours or our loved one/s? I like the differences between the characters but I wasn’t attached nor connected to anyone. It still managed to slightly surprise me with its characters and the plot twist. I also found this cute and a little more childish at some point. I liked this but not as much as I wanted to. There just could still be more of the story.
When Water Sang Fire – 5/5
I was not made to please princes.
This is another extra interesting tale because the main character is also not a human. This time it is a mermaid. The story also touches (sydhroel’s) music – its power and its magic. I love Ulla so much. I love how strong she is – not just in terms of magic but as being/sydhroel. I didn’t know what to think and feel of her at first but I admire and love her by the time the story has ended. She’s precious despite what others say and think of her. I also loved seeing everything develop – including my feelings – as I turn the pages. The out of place became respected, the slightly bland became intense. I didn’t expect I will love this the way I did. I had a bit of a tough time visualizing most settings under the sea. They sound extravagant, but due to the deeper words used, I had a bit of a hard time following. It was also tough for me to memorize the terms and what or who they are at first. Further, It could have been made shorter. This one is the longest and I wish it wasn’t. I felt this more as I got near to the end. Only enjoyed while the time was passing by, but still I fell in love hard with it. It just became so heartfelt. When Water Sang Fire is quite a fierce, dark, dangerous and evil tale of friendship, sacrifice, magic, greed, betrayal and revenge.
Favorite stories: Ayama and the Thorn Wood, The Too-Clever Fox, & When Water Sang Fire
Exceptional and highly entertaining stories plus gorgeous and breath taking illustrations? All I can say is… I was in love. I definitely recommend this. If you love fairy tales – especially dark and dangerous ones, The Language of Thorns is a must.
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.