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.
Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grishaverse 0.5, 2.5, 2.6
(Can be read as a standalone)
Genre: Fairytale Retellings, Young Adult, Fantasy
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Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.
The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic is a collection of six stories inspired by folklore and fairytales like The Little Mermaid, The Nutcracker, and Hansel & Gretel.
Bardugo spins her magic yet again and takes some of our beloved fairytales and gives them new breath.
These stories are hauntingly beautiful and heartbreakingly dangerous. The stories left me feeling uneasy in ways I cannot describe. What I can say is that unease came from how true the meaning behind the stories rang.
They made me question everything I thought I knew about my favorite stories. What if what I thought was a happy ending really wasn’t? What if prince charming was greedy and cruel? What if gain love, friendships were sacrificed?
I haven’t read the Grisha Trilogy, only the Six of Crows duology but Bardugo’s attention to details has blown me away every single time. This time was no exception.
If you love fairytale retellings, pick this book up. Even if you haven’t read any of Bardugo’s books before.
She is the QUEEN OF SHORT STORIES.
The illustrations by Sara Kipin took my breath away. They were beautiful. I loved how every time I turned a page a new element was added until the whole picture was revealed in the end.
Ayama and the Thorn Wood
“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 the ones who do.”
Going into the book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But after reading this story I knew I was in for a wild ride. The story follows a girl and a beast who weren’t loved by their family because of the way they looked. Because everyone thought they were expendable, their path kept crossing and eventually, together they build something so much better than beauty.
This story was a beautiful retelling of Beauty and The Beast. The way Ayama changed the endings to well-known stories was beautiful.
The Too-Clever Fox
“The trap is loneliness, and none of us escapes it. Not even me.”
This story follows the cleverest fox in all of Ravka. He was shunned due to his looks and was always at a disadvantage. He outsmarts every danger he faces. Eventually, a hunter comes to town and the forest is terrified. Koja (the fox) takes up the responsibility to protect the forest by trying to outsmart the hunter. Only problem? The hunter is just as smart.
This story reads like fairytale you would read in our world. It made my spine tingle with fear. I did guess the plot twist though, which is why it gets a 4 star.
The Witch of Duva
“There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls.”
You can read the story for free here. Please read it. I am positive it will shake your world the same way it shook mine. The story takes place in a village that is living under constant terror because their daughters keep going missing. I don’t want to say more than that. But the ending left me speechless and in tears. This story made my HEART BLEED.
Trigger Warning for abuse (physical/sexual). These things are very vague but they are still woven into the story.
“It is dangerous to travel the northern road with a troubled heart.”
This story was about beauty, greed, and freedom. It is set in a town that was known for the beauty of the Duke’s daughter. This story, like all others, turned age-old tropes on their head. I started out a little confused, but in the end, loved it. The enjoyed the moral of the story.
The Soldier Prince
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.”
This was a really twisted story but still amazing. It as a retelling of The Nutcracker but focused on finding our personal desires. Also, it mentioned Ketterdam! The story was from the land of Kerch and in true form the atmosphere was grim. The ending left me feeling very unsettled. But I would like to read more about Droessen’s backstory.
When Water Sand Fire
“This is the problem with making a thing forbidden. It does nothing but build an ache in the heart.”
This was a dark retelling of The Little Mermaid and it was a masterpiece. This story follows two girls – one who is ostracised for being different and the other her best friend (there is a story of that friendship as well). Eventually, the girls go above the sea and mingle with the humans. In the end, it shows what hate can do to you if you let it take over. I really want to read more of Ulla because I feel for her.
This story, ultimately, is about betrayal and friendship and hate.
If you noticed a pattern in the story, you wouldn’t be wrong. All these stories are about the underdog and I loved it. Like I mentioned above, Leigh Bardugo, turned so many old tropes on their heads.
Have you read The Language Of Thorns? Which stories did you love most?
Do you love fairytale retelling? Which books would you suggest?