Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo || Creepy fairytales are so beautiful and sad

the language of thorns

leigh bardugo

illustrator: sara kipin

grisha verse #0.5, 2.5,2.6

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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. 

Publisher: imprint

Publication Date: september 26th 2017



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LEIGH BARDUGO CAN DO NO WRONG. Yes, I finally bought this. Yes, the art blinded me. Yes, my wallet is mad at me right now. I’ll be adding some the the pictures, not all, because… reasons. This review is kind of late (I attempted to start this a few days before Christmas, but family came over and… you know how chaotic it is.) Heads up, my favorites are tied by the 5 star ratings you see below. I could not choose.

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Ayami and the Thorn Wood ★★★★★

“Come now, Ayama. You know how the stories go. Interesting things only happen to pretty girls…”

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This is a Zemini story of a monstrous prince and a plain girl. How their paths keep crossing. About forgiveness and mercy. And it damn near made me teary-eyed. This was such a beautiful story for all the girls who are looked over, but have a fierceness inside them if someone is bothered to look. This one may be my favorite.

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The Too Clever Fox ★★★★

“I can bear ugliness,” he said. “I find the one thing I cannot live with is death.”

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This is a Ravkan story about a clever fox and how sometimes it is our actions that make us clever, not just our words. This felt so much like folklore; it was lush and beautiful. And the plot twist? WHOA.


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The Witch of Duva ★★★★★

“There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls.”

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This one was a bit confusing at first. Nothing is what it seems. It’s a story of a small village grieving the missing girls and trying to survive a harsh winter. A girl who befriends a witch. After stewing on this one for a minute, I had to bump the rating up- it stayed in my mind well after I read it.


Trigger Warning



Physical and sexual abuse


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Little Knife ★★★★

“She lived in happy solitude, and grew old, and never worried when her beauty faded, for in her reflection she always saw a free woman.”

This is the story of belonging to no one but yourself. This story was amazing and just like The Witch of Duva, I had to stew with it and it settled in my soul. It also had an unexpected love story, which are the best.

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The Soldier Prince ★★★★

“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.”

I was a bit conflicted on the rating. On one hand, it is a beautiful retelling of The Nutcracker in Ketterdam. Give me all of the Ketterdam fairytales. On the other hand, it took a while for me to understand the story. But when I finished it, I wanted-no, needed more.

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When Water Sang Fire ★★★★★

” Magic doesn’t require beauty… Easy magic is pretty. Great magic asks that you trouble the waters. It requires a disruption, something new.” 

This story was longer and I was entranced. Each page I turned, I looked at the pictures more, watching the story unfold, wondering what they could mean before I got the the final picture. And while reading this one, I felt a sense of dread; we know this is a villain origin story and I loved Ulla. I felt the betrayal almost as much as she did. I rooted for her in those moments where she finally came into herself and wrecked the world.

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12 thoughts on “Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo || Creepy fairytales are so beautiful and sad

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