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

The Language of Thorns

Grisha Verse #0.5, #2.5, #2.6

Leigh Bardugo

Illustrator: Sara Kipin

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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

Published: September 26th 2017



Yes, I finally bought this. Yes, the art blinded me. Yes, my wallet is mad at me right now. Heads up, my favorites are tied by the 5 star ratings you see below. I could not choose.


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. About being and making yourself heard. 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.

Trigger Warning

Animal Death

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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 because 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. And a twist that shocked the hell out of me.

This is one of the darkest short stories in this collection and it’s been a while that I’ve read something that disturbed me this much. 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.

The twist was something I didn’t see coming and it also had an unexpected love story, which are the best.

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The Soldier Prince ★★★★

I was a bit conflicted on this 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. It’s mystical and it doesn’t give anything away until a certain moment and things started to make sense. It’s a story of finding your self and your self worth. And 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 probably the longest one out of the bunch 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. 

Trigger Warning

Self Harm

I really appreciate how this is a part of the Grishaverse, yet it’s not really connected to the main stories— you can enjoy this even if you haven’t read The Shadow and Bone trilogy or the Six of Crows duology. 

And these are just genuinely entertaining. So get on that.


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