Saturday, 6 January 2018

The Language Of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo: Book Review

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.


To be perfectly candid with you all, I have never read a single book or short story or tweet by Leigh Bardugo. Going into this compilation of folktales from the Grishaverse that she so carefully constructed with blood, sweat, and deals with demons (most likely), I was afraid that I would not harbour enough knowledge to give an all round accurate review. Thankfully I found that it was something which anyone could read as if it were just another lot of mysterious stories to scare children at night. And my, oh my... I have been blown away at what Leigh has produced in order to completely reconstruct the way we see our fairytales, myths, and legends.

Each of these six stories appear like any other classic: starting off with mysteriously interesting characters in fairly typical settings and situations. The twist in every single one brought about wonder and joy because of how well Leigh was able to take the clich├ęs of our fairytales and transform them into something more powerful than pretty girls with happily ever afters and villains who never got their backstory told. And if it couldn't get any better, the whole collection is quotable like any of your favourite classics. The symbolism and metaphors I came across completely invigorated me with a passion to try and improve my writing to become as beautifully elegant as Leigh.

Some of my favourite quotes:

“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. That emptiness cannot be banished, and so some days we wake with the feeling of the wind blowing through, and we must simply endure it as the boy did.”

“We were not made to please princes.”

“This goes to show you that sometimes the unseen is not to be feared and that those meant to love us most are not always ones who do.”

“There is no pain like the pain of transformation.”

“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.”

“I tried to reason with them, but people do not always hear the words of a beast.”

“There are better things than princes.”

I have given this book a 5 out of 5 stars for it's ingenuity and ability to transform much loved fairytales into modern masterpieces that will continue to shape the way we see literature in our day and age. I cannot recommend this book anymore than I can say, "Buy it and read it to your children!" I kind of hope that Leigh decides to write more stories for this collection because I'd love to see a Snow Queen or Sleeping Beauty retelling. Plus the book is absolutely stunning to look at and the material makes it feel like a century old magical tome full of witchy spells and incantations. What's not to love? I have been needing a reason to buy her Shadow and Bone trilogy and Six Of Crows duology so now I guess I have one!

Thank you Hachette NZ for the review copy!

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Find it on the Hachette NZ website HERE

I published my very first short story, "Crimson Exchange"!

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