book review

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo || Book Review


Title: The Language of Thorns

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Illustrator: Sara Kipin

Published: 26. September 2017

Edition: Orion Children’s Books

                 Hardcover, 284 pages

Genre: Fantasy | Short Stories | Fairy Tales


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.

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◄ 5 out of 5 stars ►

This collection of short stories is set in The Grishaverse, you don’t need to read the books set in this world to enjoy this collection. (Though you might appreciate them more, if you have some prior knowledge.) I just wanted to say that, in case anyone was wondering. This collection consists of six short stories, which are all fairy tales from different parts of the Grisha universe.

In my review I will write my general thoughts to the collection overall and then go into more detail about three of the stories. There won’t be any spoilers.

The writing in all of these short stories is beautiful and captivating. They all feel like fairy tales. These stories contain some of the traditional tropes when it comes to fairy tales, but they get completely flipped on the head and make the story so much more amazing. I won’t go into any detail regarding that, as I think discovering them while reading is the best. Each story provokes a meaningful discussion, that can easily be applied to todays society. Some fascinating discussions and discoveries can be made while reading this book.

The illustrations in the book are gorgeous and they bring the stories to life even more. I loved discovering the intricate illustrations that surrounded the text while I was reading, it just added so much to the overall story. Plus the full page illustrations at the end of each story are simply wonderful and I would love to have them all as posters, so I could hang them around my room. I wouldn’t recommend looking them up, as they contain spoilers. This is a short story collection that I can see myself rereading many times in the future!

Ayama and the Thorn Wood (Zemeni)

This is actually the first story in the collection and one of my favourites as well. This story is about Ayama, who is thought of as a servant in her family because of her sister, Kima, who is graceful beautiful and perfect. One day a beast attacks the kingdom and the king offers a reward to the person who gets rid of the beast. Ayama’s family wants her to go on that quest. This story was fascinating and nothing like I expected it to be. I loved the relationship between the sisters, as they are very close. This story has many interesting themes and political discussions. I loved the message of this story and the main character Ayama was wonderful. (I really wanted to read more about her.)

They pray that their children will be brave and clever and strong, that they will tell the true stories instead of the easy ones.

The Witch of Duva (Ravkan)

This story is about a family where the father of two children, Nadia and Havel, remarries after their mother dies. The woman he marries, Karina, was already married to some men before and they have all died, there are many rumours about her. Meanwhile in their village girls have been going missing and no one knows what is happening to them. This story I found very unexpected as well, it simply didn’t go the way I thought it would. Even though the setting is familiar, as many fairy tales have it as well, this story felt completely unique. I was at the edge of the seat while reading it, I just wanted to know what was going on and what was going to happen next. Same as with the other story I already mentioned, many important themes were explored within this story.

So shut the window tight and make sure the latch is fastened. Dark things have a way of slipping in through narrow spaces.

Little Knife (Ravkan)

This story is set in the city of Velisyana, which was famous for the quality of their flour and the beauty of Yeva Luchova, the dukes daughter. She had to be confined in the palace because of her beauty. Seeing the effect that she had on the people her father decided to hold a competition where the winner would get to merry his beautiful daughter. Everyone would be welcome, be it a prince or just a commoner, they just needed to complete the task that was given. I didn’t think that I would enjoy this story as much as I did, mostly because of the basic premise – it didn’t interest me as much as with the other stories, but I was pleasantly surprised. This story went ways I never expected it to and I loved the way it ended.

Papa, Yeva said to the duke, desperate to stand beneath an open sky again. Why must I be the one to hide?

Overall, this collection was beautiful. Each of the stories was magical and contained important themes and messages. The illustration within were gorgeous, from the full page illustrations to the ones surrounding the text. I would highly recommend this short story collection to everyone!

Have you read The Language of Thorns? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you very much for reading my review and I hope you have a wonderful day!


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20 thoughts on “The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo || Book Review

  1. I loved this collection and I especially love how we can relate it to our society as well. I think the illustrations further heightened the atmosphere of each tale and I love how well they worked in conjunction with one another. It’s hard to actually pick a favourite, but The Witch of Duva is definitely one of the best ones. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to heart that you loved it as well! 🙂 The fact that each story could be related to our society was amazing. I completely agree about the illustrations! They just added to the atmosphere of the stories and made the reading experience even more amazing. Picking a favourite is really hard, which is why I decided to go with three instead of one! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My heart is glowing. I LOVE this book. Leigh’s Grishaverse spin on some classic Grimm, Anderson, and Basile fairytales are just amazing. The first story and the Witch of Duva are my favorite tales I think. Though the Little Mermaid retelling at the end was also pretty good. The ending illustration for that story, in particular, is just stunning. Though all the illustrations are really gorgeous. I’m so happy you loved this book. Wonderful post, Anna!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy that you loved this book as well! I completely agree, the spin on the classic fairy tales was amazing and Leigh did such an amazing job with all of the stories. Picking one favourite is really difficult when it comes to these stories. I just want prints of all the illustrations to display them in my room! Thank you!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Anna! I loved reading your review for The Language of Thorns, it brought back so many good memories I have of reading these short stories while traveling during the summer. Leigh Bardugo definitely has a talent for transporting you into her magical Grishaverse, and her world-building skills are absolutely amazing. I’m glad you enjoyed this collection of short stories! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that you enjoyed my review! 😀 Leigh Bardugo definitely has a talent for writing (especially complex fantasy worlds) and I seriously NEED more of her books in my life. I can’t wait for King of Scars to come out! I’m glad that you enjoyed this short story collection as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t read The Language of Thorns yet, as I haven’t read the Grisha trilogy yet! I want to make certain I really appreciate the stories for what they are in the Grishaverse. That said, I’ve read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Have you read those? Do you think I’ll appreciate this short story collection with only those two books as background?

    Liked by 1 person

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