Book Reviews, Young Adult

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

Title: The Language of Thorns

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Series: N/A

Genre: High Fantasy, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Fairy Tales

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication date: September 26th, 2017

Pages: 281

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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.

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Holy guacamole, Queen Bardugo did it again! This book was one of my most anticipated books of this year, and even though Leigh Bardugo is an auto buy author for me, I was pretty damn excited to read more about The Grisha word, and seeing all those beautiful illustrations just made me even more thrilled. So needless to say, I had to read it.

I loved how atmospheric all the tales were, and I totally imagined parents reading those to their children when they were young (maybe to a young Jesper???). I’m going to be talking about each short story in particular, just to make this review a little bit different and more interesting, because there were some I had so many thoughts about and I’m eager to fangirl about them!

AYAMA AND THE THORN WOOD

“You see, some people are born with a piece of night inside, and that hollow place can never be filled, not with all the good food or sunshine in the world.”

I really enjoyed this one! You know I’m a huge fan of retellings, and seeing one of The Beauty and The Beast in this book made me excited. I found that not only this particular tale but all of them are a much darker version of the original fairy tales we all know, with twists and turns, and this one was no different.

Something I really loved about this short story was that beauty wasn’t the main focus of it, unlike B&TB. In this one, there was a message the author pointed out multiple times: beauty fades, but how you are as a person doesn’t, and that’s what matters. I really enjoyed our main character Ayama, and despite being a short story, I liked her interactions with the “beast”. There were some tales inside this story, which I didn’t expect, and the ending was a bit dark, but still beautiful.

THE TOO-CLEVER FOX

“A lesser creature might have held Koja’s mistakes against him, might have moked him for his pride. But Lula was not only clever.

She was wise.”

To be completely honest with you, I had no idea if this one was a retelling or not (I believe it was but I’m not entirely positive on that!), and out of all of them, this one was one of my least favourites. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I wasn’t a big fan of the human sidekicks (if you’ve read them you’ll probably know why), but even though the writing and the tale itself were beautiful, well… I have other favourites.

Nonetheless, I still think it was a great story, and I didn’t expect to end like that. Again, there was a similar message to the previous tale, but since I’m keeping this review spoiler free I’m not gonna talk about that yet. The ending was I think what surprised me the most, because I didn’t think it would have that twist.

THE WITCH OF DUVA

“What is it you want?”

“I want to go home,” Nadya replied.

“So go.”

This was one of the darkest and twisted tales of this book, let me tell you. When I first started reading I had no idea how it was going to end, and that it was going to have such a somber ending, but again, Leigh Bardugo creater her own twists, and this one was one of them.

It seemed like this story was going to be a retelling of Hansel & Gretel, but as you kept reading it became more and more unique, and the way you thought (and quite honestly, hated) about some of the characters changed as well, because there was a huge revelations at the end that was like… “wait, what?“.

LITTLE KNIFE

“Will you remain here with the father who tried to seel you, or the prince who hoped to buy you, or the man too weak to solve his riddles for himself? Or will you come with me and be bride to nothing but the shore?”

This one was one of the stories I loved the most, probably due to the fact that I didn’t think it was going to end it like that.

There was an amazing message in this particular short story, and I was beyond happy to see this topic talked about and be solved differently in a YA romance fairytale, so maybe that’s why I loved it so much, who knows? All I know is that the writing was beautiful, and the ending too.

THE SOLDIER PRINCE

“Servants came and banked the fire, doused the candles. He’d fought bravery, and yet somehow, he always ended up here, alone in the dark.”

This tale made me so sad, because the Nutcracker was one of my favourite movies when I was a little girl (not the Barbie one. There was actually another movie based on the original story!), so to read about this tale and the mournful vibe it had, was a new experience to me.

I adored the differences between the original story and this one, because even though The Soldier Prince had some elements from the original, again the author did an amazing job at creating her own twists and characters, and that made the whole experience much better.

WHEN WATER SANG FIRE

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

This tale was incredibly sad and melancholic, and I didn’t know it was going to be a villain origin story, which only thrilled me more when I finished it, because 1. I love the original fairy tale and 2. I love me my villains. So this one was on my top 2 favourites.

It was a bit longer than the other ones, but I still loved how full of details it had, and of course, I loved drama and unrequited love, so that added a few extra points. But the whole book is full of diverse characters, and I loved seeing that in this one as well.

Also there’s a cameo in this one! My hottie the Darkling appears a bit in one part of the story, and at first I didn’t realise it was him, but I knew one of the previous characters of the Grisha world was going to be appearing in this book, so I did the count and here he was!

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