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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Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Kaz Brekker and his crew 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. 

This book broke my heart. And it made me feel so whole. I love that this is a duology, even though I adored these characters and the world and I didn’t want to leave them, it just kind of works. And as excited as I am to hear about King of Scars, this duology is just perfect as it is. Yay for duologies.

I’ve always said the hardest books to review are the ones you loved the most, and I am completely standing by that sentence right now. This book was set in a magical world, with beautiful words and in depth characters. I just can’t match up to that.

“She smiled then, her cheeks red, her cheeks scattered with some kind of dust.”

Just going to give a little shoutout to Emma, who inspires me so much and who wrote a review I love. I wish I could be that good with words!

I’m shocked at how much I enjoyed this book compared to Six of Crows. I’m not saying it was bad – far from it – but I just enjoyed this book so much more. Maybe it’s because I now class myself as a fantasy reader, and with every fantasy book I love I find the gateway to the genre open a little more.

Maybe I enjoyed it more because we explored much more of the world in Crooked Kingdom, and I love how the book followed a number of locations. And can we just talk for a minute about character development. Hell, I have never seen an author define their characters so well. I felt so close to each of the 6 POV, and I think that’s so rare in YA, to know exactly how each character is feeling in relation to the whole story and each separate character. To see the differences and definition in each beautiful soul and exactly how they work together like clockwork is so impressive.

“It was a smile he thought he might die to earn again.”

I might not be the best with words in these situations, but I do want to say something. This book shines. It is a rarity. It is 3D in a world of 2D. It is a, simply, an absolute gem. And if you love fantasy, please, I beg you, go and read this series.

★★★★★

5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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You may also enjoy: Six of Crows review