Review: Rule of Wolves (#2) by Leigh Bardugo

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The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.
The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.
The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.
King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

I can’t believe I’m done with my Grishaverse re-read/read. I’m so glad I read all of the books back to back this time before reading this one, as I found I got so much more out of the story and felt so connected to the characters because of this. This book follows characters from both Six of Crows and Shadow and Bone, as it continues from King of Scars. I love these characters so much and I’m so happy that these books follow them all together. I also loved how some of the characters from the other stories appeared in this one as side characters, it was so cool to even see them briefly!

I really enjoyed this book, but sadly it didn’t quite capture me as much as King of Scars, and the Six of Crows duology remains to be my favourite of the Grisha books. I found this one less consistent than the others, mainly due to the points of view. I’ve always found Leigh Barugo does multiple POV so well, but I felt ever so slightly differently in this one. I think this is because it follows a different character that has never appeared in the Grisha books before, and I just didn’t feel connected to that character as much as I wanted to.

Love was the destroyer. It made mourners, widows, left misery in its wake.

I also found this slightly more political and more focused on royalty than I expected or wanted. I have recently realised that I am not often drawn to those kind of stories, and it did ever so slightly put me off this one. I also think this is why Six of Crows is my favourite Grisha duology, as it follows a heist and I find it so much more fun. I also felt the characters were sometimes quite disconnected from one another and had different things going on, which was slightly jarring for me.

I hope this doesn’t make it seem like I didn’t love this story, because I still really did! I loved Zoya and Nina’s chapters in particular, and some of the events made me so emotional because of what these amazing strong women go through throughout the Grisha books. I also enjoyed the way gender identity is explored in this story, which is so often not looked at in fantasy stories!

Grief and love were one and the same. Grief was the shadow love left when it was gone.

Overall, I still really enjoyed this one and some of the characters and events made me so emotional. I also loved the ending and it has made me super excited for where more stories in the Grishaverse could go…

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: King of Scars (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

This was actually my second time reading this book, but the first time I read it I hadn’t read the Grisha trilogy. Let me tell you now, I would definitely recommend reading the Grishaverse books in order of release, and that is what I’ve been doing this time around and it is so much better! I really enjoyed the story of this one the first time around, even though it spoiled the ending of the Grisha trilogy for me. However, I loved reading it so much more this time because I had these characters fresh in my mind and their backstories.

Nikolai is my favourite character from the Grisha trilogy so I really enjoyed reading about his storyline continuing in King of Scars! He is such a witty and sarcastic character who I adore and his one-liners always make me laugh/smile. I also love the story of Nina which continues in King of Scars, and I find her storyline my favourite of all of them. Her story also really makes me emotional, especially at the start of this book!

Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. 

I actually found this a little harder to get into than I expected considering I’ve been reading the Grisha books back to back. I did find the first time it took me around 250 pages to get in to, and this time it was more like 100 pages. However, once I got into this story I just adored it. It also took me a while to adjust to all of the points of view, especially considering we have a new character and a new point of view from someone else in the Grisha trilogy.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book, especially Isaak, Zoya and Nina’s points of view. Sadly, and surprisingly to me, I felt a little disconnected from Nikolai’s character and story in this one. I think this may be due to what is actually happening to him throughout this book, as it felt kind of natural to be a little disconnected from him because of the events.

We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.

I must say I really enjoyed this one but it didn’t quite have the same emotional impact or connection for me as the Six of Crows series does. I loved the plot, the characters and it kept me on the edge of my seat, but just didn’t quite reach 5 stars for me! I can’t wait to finally be able to read Rule of Wolves and see what I think.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Crooked Kingdom (#2) by Leigh Bardugo

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Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.
Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.
A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
Welcome to the world of the Grisha
.

I cannot even describe how glad I am that I decided to reread this series and the Grishaverse books as a whole. Although I absolutely adored this one the first time around, going into it with background knowledge of the previous books just elevates it to another level. There were so many mentions of the people from Shadow and Bone and the events within those books that would have completely gone over my head in the first read!

Crooked Kingdom is set soon after the events of Six of Crows, but the whole reading experience feels so different. Whereas Six of Crows feels like diving into the deep end, Crooked Kingdom is diving under a warm and familiar duvet and wrapping it around you. Everything I felt was missing in the first book appears in this one. I love it.

I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing.

My favourite part of these books will always be the Crows themselves. I just love them, their stubborn, witty and determined selves. I will never stop loving them. Each Crow has a very distinct character, which I love, and I never wanted to skip chapters so I could be back with a different one. I cannot emphasise enough how skilled Leigh Bardugo is to write six different points of view yet keeps a fully coherent story throughout. I could (and did) easily cry at this book just because of the emotions I feel for the characters and the way they interact.

Which takes me onto the writing. The writing in this book is astounding, and I found myself holding my breath at crucial moments and fight scenes, yet crying at the gentler parts. It is utterly gripping and describes the world perfectly. I love Ketterdam and it is one of those places I can picture so vividly because of how well it is described.

Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.

Honestly, I could gush about this book forever and I do not have a bad word to say about it. It is a diamond in the rough, a rarity. I adore the characters, the relationships, the strong females, the world, the writing, the action, the pacing. It is all on another level. It shines.

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Six of Crows (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

I read this book for the first time back in 2016, and I honestly wasn’t planning on re-reading it soon, even though it’s been in the back of my mind for a while. But then the Shadow and Bone Netflix show began, and all I wanted was to be in this world again. Back when I read this book, it was actually the first Leigh Bardugo book I’d ever read. I actually don’t think I was even aware of Shadow and Bone existing. Because of that, I read the Grisha books in the complete wrong order (Six of Crows duology > King of Scars > Grisha trilogy). The actual order is the Grisha trilogy > Six of Crows duology > King of Scars duology, if you’re wondering! I’ve been wanting to reread all of the Grisha books for a while, so thank you to the Shadow and Bone show for making me finally do it.

Having gone straight from the Grisha trilogy to this, I enjoyed it so much more. However, I still felt more like I’d been thrown into the deep end than I expected to. I think this is because this book does begin straight in the action, and because of that it still took me 100ish pages to get into it properly. I felt the same the first time I read this book, but back then I had no knowledge of the Grisha world or powers. With the knowledge I have now, this was just so much more enjoyable.

I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker.

The characters are what melt my heart in this book. I just love them all so much and thinking of them makes me so emotional. The characters in these books are probably my favourite group of friends in any book, ever. I just adore the found family trope and Leigh writes it like no other. This book flicks between six points of view, and although I find this confusing normally, it really works in Six of Crows. I think this is helped along by the third person narrative, and made me feel really connected to all of the characters.

The writing is also absolutely beautiful and some of the quotes from this book and Crooked Kingdom make me so emotional. I started crying at the Shadow and Bone Netflix show at many random places, and one of those was when the line ‘no mourners, no funerals’ was used. I was just waiting for that moment, as those four words hold so much weight for the characters and in turn, for me as a reader.

The plot of this book is just amazing and I love the adventure in it. It’s so fast paced and especially after the first 100 pages or so, super addictive. I didn’t want to put it down, even though I had an awareness of the plot points from reading it the first time. I also adore the world so much, and I can’t wait to see more of it in Crooked Kingdom.

Or I will not have you at all.

Overall, I can’t not rate this book 5 stars. I’ve been conflicted about rating it 4.5 or 5 stars, but I just adore this book and these characters and they mean so much to me. This is definitely a personal rating (objectively, I would say 4.5 and leave that half star for Crooked Kingdom), but I just have such an emotional response to this book that it has become an absolute favourite over the years.

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

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Dive into the epic world of international bestselling author Leigh Bardugo with this beautifully illustrated replica of The Lives of Saints, the Istorii Sankt’ya, featuring tales of saints drawn from the beloved novels and beyond. Out of the pages of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, from the hands of Alina Starkov to yours, the Istorii Sankt’ya is a magical keepsake from the Grishaverse.
These tales include miracles and martyrdoms from familiar saints like Sankta Lizabeta of the Roses and Sankt Ilya in Chains, to the strange and obscure stories of Sankta Ursula, Sankta Maradi, and the Starless Saint.
This beautiful collection includes stunning full-color illustrations of each story. 

As you can probably tell, I will happily buy and read anything Leigh Barudgo writes. She is such a talented writer, and I adore her stories. I was so hesitant about going into The Language of Thorns, yet I adored it. So when I realised this was going to be a similar style of short story collection, I knew I wanted to read it. I also happened to only pick up the Grisha trilogy last year, only a few months before this book was released. The Lives of Saints is referenced a lot in the Grisha trilogy, as a kind of bible, a book that is given to children as they grow up and learn about the saints they worship. In a way, this book reminded me a lot of Aesop’s fables, as they are only incredibly short and all have some kind of moral.

I feel like in a way, Bardugo really has a knack for short story/fairytale type writing. She has a beautiful, poetic way of writing that just fits and works so well with these kinds of books. I saw a review that mentioned these are similar to the kind of writings you get with tarot cards, and I can definitely see where they are coming from. These stories are super short, usually between half a page and no more than 5 pages. This book is already very short, only 120 pages, and with the stories themselves being short too, this went by very quickly and I read it within a couple of hours.

You can choose faith or you can choose fear. 

Most, if not all of these stories are quite sad and tragic, because of the nature of the saints having to die to become, well, saints. However, that doesn’t make all of them depressing or harrowing, and I found quite a lot of them poignant, yet uplifting. The illustrations alongside were absolutely beautiful, and this book as a whole is a gorgeous thing to own. I would like to point out that the ugly blue band on the photo is removable! There is gold foiling underneath and a red clothbound cover.

My main disappointment from this book was the fact I know I will forget these stories so quickly, purely because they are so short. It’s an easy, quick read and a great thing to pick up and read one or two from, but very forgettable. With stories this short, there is just no room for character development, and that was the main factor that made me compare this to The Language of Thorns, which has much longer and fewer fairytales, and I can vaguely remember them, even after a few years.

But only one will bring what you long for.

Overall, this was a sweet idea and I love the concept of it. It’s an absolutely beautiful book and the stories are lyrical and beautiful in their own right, but also a little disappointing as they are so short and I felt a bit disconnected from them.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Siege and Storm (#2) by Leigh Bardugo

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Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

I didn’t quite read this one as quickly as Shadow and Bone, but I very easily could have. The only reason I didn’t was in fact I took a break to do other things I needed to focus my time on. But even so, I did still read it in practically three sittings – one time reading around 115 pages, the next time reading around 200 pages, and then finishing off with a short 65 sprint.

This book didn’t capture my attention quite as much as the first one, I’ll admit. But I still loved a lot about it, including Nikolai. Forget the Darkling, Nikolai was such a good character. I loved his dialogue and banter and complicated nature. I wish the love triangle (or square, or whatever-the-hell it is by now) just wasn’t a thing, as I really think having Nikolai as just a super cool friend would have appealed more to me in all honesty. But having him in this book was awesome, and I loved his character.

The less you say,

Alina really progresses in this book and becomes a character with a much deeper, darker nature, constantly battling her own demons. I felt like I was riding such a rollercoaster with her, and wow that ending left me wanting more. Sometimes the plot of this series can come across as predictable, but I was so lulled into the story that the last 20 or so pages really shook me.

The tone of this series is brilliant. I love the world Bardugo has created, especially with the dark, steampunk undertones constantly shining through. Considering a third of this book is set on a ship with pirates (sorry, privateers), it’s a shock how much I loved it, as I usually drift away from anything set on the ocean for some reason. However, the characters were just so intensely well written that I was so drawn in!

the more weight your words will carry.

Overall, this book felt much the same as the first for me. I loved the plot and the story, but the romance let me down. The characters are very well written and have depth, which only expands in the second one. I’m very excited to see where the last one takes me!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Shadow and Bone (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal–and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart–and her country–in two. 

Having read Leigh’s books in the complete wrong order, I had no idea how this series would feel for me. I began with Six of Crows, then Crooked Kingdom, The Language of Thorns and have even read King of Scars, which kind of ruins some of this series for me. I still wanted to give it a go though, and especially considering I don’t remember much of King of Scars at all, I don’t feel like it spoiled too much for me.

Having read her later writing first, I definitely noticed a difference in this book being earlier. Bardugo’s writing develops so much throughout her releases, but in a lot of ways it actually made Shadow and Bone really enjoyable for me. The writing is simpler, less complicated and felt like a good place to start in the universe, for Bardugo herself and for the reader. In a lot of ways I really do wish I’d started with this series, as I remember how long it took me to get into Six of Crows the first time around.

“The problem with wanting,” he whispered,

Although a lot of the plot was predictable in places, I really liked learning Alina’s story. She made a great protagonist to introduce this world with, as she is learning about the magic system herself and starting from scratch. Talking of, I really liked how the magic system was put together and portrayed. The Grisha themselves are really cool and unique magic wielders, and I love reading about their world.

Although Alina made a great female protagonist, I didn’t enjoy the love triangle so much. Love triangles always put me off a little, and this one was no different. I did really like the Darkling, however, and I thought he was a very cleverly written ploy.

I can’t write this review without telling you guys how I read the entire thing in a day. Not 24-hours. I literally read it from morning to evening. I read 170 pages in one go. Although it didn’t quite make this book 5 stars for me, I cannot hide how purely enthralling and page-turning a book has to be for me to pick it up like that and simply not want to put it down. I was captivated.

his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”

Overall, this book let me down in places and the plot could be predictable, but I really loved it and wish I’d picked it up sooner. What a story. It grabs you by the shoulders and doesn’t let go. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Ninth House (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

It’s no secret that I love Leigh Bardugo. I’ve read most of her books (excluding the Grisha trilogy) and I adored them. But from the release of Ninth House, I knew it would be different. I heard how dark this book was, the reasons it was published as adult fiction rather than YA. But I heard Leigh talk about it a few times at signings and talks late last year, and I really, really wanted to pick it up. She drew me in.

I found this book really tough to read but so alluring. I will warn you now, it is incredibly difficult to read in a lot of ways. Some of the scenes shocked me and disturbed me, and definitely need a warning. This book was not without gruesome scenes that really grossed me out.

Peace was like any high. It couldn’t last. 

But unfortunately it wasn’t just the gruesome scenes that made it difficult for me. I cannot hide the fact that I was just…confused. I don’t think the non-linear timeline and flitting points of view helped at all, I never quite knew what was happening or could grasp enough about the story to feel like I could completely understand.

Despite finding the story confusing, I couldn’t deny the writing was spectacular as always. I liked the pacing, which was slow but some of the fast paced scenes made up for it, gripping me on the edge of my seat in those occasional moments. I also loved the setting, which reminded me slightly of The Starless Sea. Having known Leigh Bardugo went to Yale herself, I could tell the passion she felt using her own University to set Ninth House in.

I loved Alex and the cast of characters in general. Darlington was great too and I really liked Alex’s friends and roommates as secondary characters. Bardugo does a great job of describing the way some rich white males feel in relation to privilege and power, and how they can use their privileges to whatever they feel entitled to, however soul-curdling those things may be. Bardugo does not hold back on these issues, and for that I appreciated her writing.

It was an illusion, something that could be interrupted in a moment and lost forever.

I did enjoy this book, but I also felt a disconnection from it that I wish I didn’t feel. Maybe I had too high expectations. Maybe I just prefer her YA fantasy. However I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, and I’ll be interested to see what my opinions of this book are when I reread it in future.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: King of Scars (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Before I begin, I have to say that this review is coming from the view of someone who has never read the Grisha trilogy, and has only read the Six of Crows duology. I really believe this has effected my thoughts on the book so just a warning! I also want to mention I read this book with my bookish bestie Courtney, and we had so much fun doing our first buddy-read together. 🙂 Reading is just a bit more special with someone to share it with!

I want to start with the start of the book – because this took me so long to get into. I think part of the reason was because I’ve been in the Shadowhunter world since early December, and it was just so strange to suddenly be thrown into a completely different world.

My second reason is definitely because I didn’t receive the world-building I needed from the Grisha trilogy. Although King of Scars is very descriptive, it took a lot of concentration for me to understand what was actually going on. So if you want to read Bardugo’s books, I’d honestly say please read her other books first (Grisha trilogy followed by Six of Crows). You need the world building and preparation – and lots of her previous books are spoiled in King of Scars!

“Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve.”

But despite this, I still really enjoyed King of Scars, especially after the first 250 pages. It took me about 4 days to read the first half, and only 2 to get through the second. Maybe the pacing is a little off because it definitely picks up, but I think this is also partly due to me finally clicking with the world (yes, it took that long).

I’ve always said this but I have to point it out again – Bardugo can write multiple POV books like no one else I have ever read. Six of Crows was from 6 different POV, but those books are among some of my favourites. And here we are again, with four POV, yet I loved them all in their own ways. There was such a balance here – each role was unique, and I wasn’t waiting or hoping to get back to a specific person.

“You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world. You are limiting yourself.”

Overall, what a great book, and the second half really made it for me. The tense edge-of-your-seat plot and fighting scenes were immense, and made me fall in love with Bardugo’s work even more. I’ll definitely be re-reading Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom and King of Scars once I’ve tackled the Grisha trilogy!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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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. 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.

This book is absolutely stunning. I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to read this, but I find short stories so hit and miss! Some (*cough* Tales of Beedle the Bard *cough*) can be blatant gimmicks. And others, like this, can be downright beauty.

I am so, so happy that this one fell into the latter. All 6 of these stories are based on classic fairytales, but with a new and fresh take set in the Grisha universe. I haven’t actually read the Grisha trilogy yet, but I loved Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom! What I love about this book is you don’t actually have to read any of Bardugo’s books to understand any of the tales.

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

I actually can’t chose a favourite of these stories, because they’re all so beautiful in their own ways. Ayama and the Thorn Wood, The Witch of Duva and The Water Sang Fire definitely all stood out for me though! I love how each story took up around 50 pages, and I think having that time and space is just crucial for the reader to know the character enough to connect fully to the story.

I can’t write this blog post without telling you all about the incredible illustrations that come with the hardback edition I own! Round every single page there’s a band of illustrations which build up as the story progresses. For example, in one story we start with a fox, and slowly the band builds up until we have trees and other forest creatures around the perimeter of the double-page spread. I can’t even begin to explain the beauty here, the amount these drawings add to each story and make them feel like fairytales.

“They pray for sons with red eyes and daughters with horns.”

I honestly have so much to say about this book that I’m going to have to stop myself from rambling and just say this. Leigh Bardugo, you have done short stories right. I have never experienced a novella quite like this one. It stands out in the fairytale experience, and it took me to many different worlds between the pages. I found it perfect for this festive time of year, so comforting and interesting. I’m sure these stories are ones I will come back to many times again!

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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