Sep 29, 2017

Review--The Language of Thorns by Leugh Bardugo

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.

What could be better than a book of fairy tales from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse! I dare you to tell me. As a lover of fairy tales and the darkness that surrounds the original ones, I was stoked to read TheLanguage of Thorns! A book of fairy tales that come from the darkest corners of the Grishaverse is sure to be the highlight of any Bardugo fan’s day!

As I tend to do with short story compilations, I’ll break this down into a set of mini reviews! 

Ayama and the Thorn Wood

This was a story that reminded me of The Storyteller’s Daughter and slightly part Cinderella with the daughter that’s treated terribly. A long time ago, in this faraway kingdom, the king and queen had two sons. But one of them came out monstrous, like truly a monster, the king and queen thought it best to put him in a maze, a labyrinth. And there he has been for many years…until he escapes.

The village then notices that the cattle and other animals are being killed. They suspect the monster/prince.  It’s decided that someone must go to the monster and offer him gifts in exchange for him leaving the remaining cattle alone. Among the villagers is a family that has two daughters, one is beautiful and talented and lovely while her sister is the opposite. Ayama being the less favored daughter is the best choice for the role, as it’s likely the monster will just eat her anyway and they hope that he will be pleased and leave them alone. This is when the story takes on the theme of The Storyteller’s Daughter as Ayama tells him a story in exchange for her life.

This was a fun story and I enjoyed how it turned out in the end! I like how these stories take on some familiar tropes of ones we all grew up in! Loving how that we also get to see what countries in the Grishaverse these stories come from! There’s no telling that the rest of these stories are going to all be equally amazing!

Rating 5/5 stars

The Too Clever Fox

This one immediately sucked me in for the fable that it was! I’ve always associated talking animals and morals with fables. And this story holds true to that belief. Koja is a very clever fox, ever since the day he was born. He’s managed to get himself out of traps making deals and unlike you’d think from a cunning fox, Koja always holds up his end of the bargain.

There’s rumors about a hunter coming to town and Koja and his animal friends soon see evidence of this as more and more of them are disappearing. Koja has the idea to befriend the hunter’s sister in hopes of figuring out the hunter’s power and how he’s able to sneak up on animals unheard.

There was a twist to this one that I saw coming pretty much straight away. Not saying that that’s a bad thing when you uncover the mystery before it’s solved.  I quite enjoyed this one. It was dark and just a little bit sinister. I truly didn’t expect it to end the way it did either!

Rating 5/5 stars

The Witch of Duva

Whoa! Another dark and chilling tale! This one had touches of Hansel and Gretel to it. That being there’s a witch in the woods who likes to eat children. Poor Nayda’s life is in turmoil when her mother dies and father remarries a young harpy of a woman, then her brother goes off to the army. Nayda suspects that Karina, her new stepmother, might be a khitka. It would explain why other village girls have been going missing over the past few months or so.

In true Hansel and Gretel fashion, Nayda finds herself lost in the woods one cold night and seeks shelter in a little house that is home to an old woman, Magda. Magda is definitely a mystery herself, is she a good witch or a bad witch? Who’s to say! Though the truth is soon to be revealed in the very end and just whoa! It’s chilling!!

Rating 5/5 stars

Little Knife

This was yet another surprising tale though maybe not as dark as the previous two. Though there is a shade of darkness to it! The Duke has very a beautiful daughter, Yeva. She is so beautiful that she had been confined to stay indoors, her nursemaid had to be blind for those who had looked upon her stole her for themselves. It’s been a difficult life to say the least. Then when she reaches the age of being marriageable, the Duke lets his greed take over.

He sets an impossible task that he’s sure only a prince with a lot of money and lot of servants can accomplish, but he doesn’t account for Semyon who has the river on his side. Semyon is able to command the river to do his bidding and begs her to help him win the contest so that he may win the beautiful princess. You can see where this is going, the man the Duke doesn’t want to win, wins and he must again set another impossible task.

But like Barudgo’s previous stories, this one ends with a twist you won’t see coming! I can’t think of what fairy tale this reminded me of, all the tasks that that must be accomplished to win the hand of the princess and of course, we’re meant to favor the poor man. It’s bound to drive me crazy for days now trying to think of what fairy tale this reminds me of! Alas, it was still a most intriguing and captivating story!

Rating 4.5/5 stars

The Solider Prince

This was a story reminiscent of The Nutcracker, but obviously with a darker twist! Droessen is an inventor or toymaker of an extravagant kind. His creations are truly unique and different. But he longs for a wife and the girl he sets his eyes on is far younger than him. Hoping to start off a courtship, he woos her with a nutcracker he made.

Clara has grown to love the nutcracker over the years. He’s her favorite toy and at night he comes to life and they go on marvelous adventures. But it’s not long before the nutcracker longs for a life of his own.

This was perhaps the hardest story for me to really get into for some reason. I still enjoyed it and its plentiful twists and turns. Though I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing some hidden connection to the whole thing. I might have missed something or other and perhaps my mind was elsewhere when reading. I did enjoy this one despite a few issues and I found the ending to be most shocking and enjoyable!

Rating 4/5 stars

When Water Sang Fire

This was the longest of all the stories and definitely one that was most intriguing! I didn't quite catch onto the tale that it relates to until the near end. And it was actually within the author's note page that my suspicion was proven correct!

This is a tale of two mermaids, Ulla and Signy, who become unlikely friends. Every year the mermaids are allowed to go up to land and spend some time there before returning home and despite her parents protests, Ulla decides to go with Signy and their new friend, Roffe who is the youngest prince in the line for the throne.

Their time on land proves fruitful as Ulla learns things she never thought possible and it seems Roffe had ulterior motives for wanting to go to land. This was definitely a story that tugged at my heartstrings for the things that happened! Unfortunately, I can't even choose adjectives for fear of leading you to spoiler territory. This story pretty much wrecked me for all the feels I had! Definitely a winner!

Rating 4.5/5 stars

Having read all these stories now, at various points, I have to say that this was one wicked awesome collection! I've always been a fan of fairy tales and fairy tale retellings! When you put Leigh Bardugo at the helm and drawing from these same stories but twisting them to fit in her Grishaverse, you know you hold in your hands a GREAT read!

Overall Rating 5/5 stars



  1. Oh my! This book sounds so good... and right up my alley! I love fractured fairy tales... and to get so many in one volume! Oooh la la! Thanks for bringing yet another winner to my attention!!!!!

  2. I'm not a very big fan of short stories in general, but these ones really seem like they pack quite a lot of content/feelings inside, from your reviews, and knowing the author is Miss Bardugo... can't wait to read it!

    1. also, to answer your question, nope, I haven't read any of them before! (wanted to read them all together)

  3. Oooh this looks amazing! And that cover 😍😍.


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