The Language of Thorns
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy, Short Stories
Blurb (as on Goodreads):
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.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl
The Language of Thorns is technically my first read of 2018. And as predicted, Leigh Bardugo has swept me off my feet. The themes are mostly magic, dark magic, witchcraft etc., but the plots are a welcoming surprise and I had such a great time guessing what happens next. For someone who predicts plots easily, this was an exciting read, because not only Bardugo wins at dialogues, but she also takes the cake for unexpected plot twists.
Let’s start with the overall presentation. This is one of the most beautiful books I have come across. The illustrations are breathtaking and it develops along with the plot, finally revealing a complete picture. The illustrations speak to us in a strange language, feeding our curiosity all along.
“This is the problem with making a thing forbidden. It does nothing but build an ache in the heart.”
A chapter by chapter analysis will tell you how enticing the stories are, so let’s get to it.
Ayama and the Thorn Wood
A story about ferocious monsters and pretty girls, with themes like loneliness and treachery. A common theme but beautifully written with mini stories within the story.
“You know how the stories go. Interesting things only happen to pretty girls; you will be home by sunset.”
The Too-Clever Fox
This is a simple story of a fox who has to constantly use his intelligence to save himself from scary situations. But that doesn’t make him proud or stupid. The story talks about friendship and trust and how important they are for survival.
The Witch of Duva
A favorite, definitely. The story revolves around a village where girls keep going missing and no-one has a clue so-as-to where they disappear. Then there are more elements which you will discover yourself because NO SPOILERS. Loved the plot and the creepy witchcraft. Oh, and the twists, you won’t even see it coming. *insert evil smile*
The Little Knife
A name given to someone/something proud and strong and cursed. A tale of beauty and righteousness, this is another simple take on all the stories that have a girl, so beautiful, that people would do anything to have her.
The Soldier Prince
A nutcracker retelling, it’s almost like solving a puzzle. Bardugo also talks about dreams and desires, love and lust. I liked it.
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.”
When Water Sang Fire
Oh boy! This has got to be the best fantasy/magic story I have read. Along the lines of ‘The Mermaid’, this was an amazing story that set the foundation for the character “Ursula”. There’s a certain dark mystery to it, and it makes you assume the worst. Plot twist was amazing as usual and overall, it was an effortless, gorgeous and extremely perturbed story
“Ulla could forgive betrayal, another abandonment, even her own death. But not this moment, when after all her sacrifice, she begged for mercy and Signy sought a prince’s permission to grant it.”
A book that encompasses all the possible emotions that one can have while reading an enchanting fantasy book. It can make you feel happy, and sometimes scared. It also gets creepy at times. But all in all, It’s a great package- magical, exciting and very satisfying.
Leigh Bardugo shines bright, as always. Are you a fan?