Title // The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
Author // Leigh Bardugo
Publisher // Imprint
Publication Date // September 26th, 2017
Synopsis // 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.
My Rating: ★★★★★
This is a straight up masterpiece and my only regret is that it took me sooo looong to finally get around to reading it.
Seriously, this isn’t a book or an anthology or whatever, it’s an exquisite piece of art that belongs in a museum or something because wow. I absolutely adored the writing, and more on that below, but seriously, it’s worth it to pick up this book for the illustrations alone. Why don’t more books have illustrations? I loved the borders around the pages that gradually grew as the stories progressed, and the full spread illustrations that followed them were absolute masterpieces! I loved the red and blue, and the fact that the pictures felt so alive with just two colors, and the fact that the text was set in color rather than just black really completed the experience and felt like it wasn’t just a book, but a gorgeous collection of fairy tales.
That aside, Leigh Bardugo is still a queen, and her writing here is exquisite. She beautifully mimics the style of classic fairy tales, making the stories feel timeless, despite being still very easy to read and fall into. There were definitely traces of well known stories within them, but just as I started thinking that they would be straightforward retellings, Bardugo pulled out crazy plot twists and completely upended what I thought I knew about the stories.
And made them so much better!
She has such empowering themes as well, making classic stories that I love so much just that much more perfect. From challenging “interesting things only happen to pretty girls” and the ideas of beauty and how they define worth, to ideas of female empowerment and not bowing down and being sold off by men, to power abuse by the rich and powerful, this book was packed full of so many amazing themes that I love seeing in new releases and only wish were contained in old fashioned fairy tales I love so much!
Here are some of my specific thoughts about the six amazing stories:
—Ayama and the Thorn Wood // This was such a great way to start off the collection! Kind of gave me beauty and the beast vibes, except the “beauty” isn’t beautiful at all, is ugly and mocked and belittled, but this really shows worth is more than beauty. Also the stories contained in the story that had different, not quite happy endings, showing truth in the world… perfection
—The Too Clever Fox // The only story with main characters being animals rather than people was so much fun to read! I loved seeing the clever fox’s schemes and the ways he talked himself out of situations. I was shocked by the twist and ending, but it was so perfect and I loved it!
—The Witch Of Duva // Although I’ll admit that I was slightly bored at the beginning of this one, it really brought me around by the ending. While it started out like Hansel and Gretel, it twisted the story to become so much better and shed light on amazing things not mentioned in other retellings…
—Little Knife // This is another amazing story about the worth of beauty, this time not about disregarding outward beauty, but straight up owning it! It’s so empowering to take charge of your own beauty and self, and not let the whims or distractions of men impact how you show yourself!
—The Soldier Prince // This is the Nutcracker retelling I’ve been waiting for my entire life! I loved the new perspective it took, especially mixed with a bit of Velveteen Rabbit and overall I’m very happy to have been blessed with this story.
—When Water Sang Fire // WOW I AM AMAZED honestly between this and Marissa Meyer’s Sea Witch, Ursula has become my favorite person and I am her number one fan Ariel who? The main characters were so compelling, the power of their friendship and how romance, greed, and desire can get in the way of that, and I just aoisjfdkl
This was such a long review even if it’s nonsensical I’m proud of myself and so you should make me proud by reading this book if you’re the one person left in the universe besides me who hadn’t read it.