Book Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo


The Language of Thorns brings us a collection of fairy-tale style short stories set in the Grishaverse – the same universe where Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology and Shadow and Bone series are set. Following in the style of her other Grishaverse books, these stories are dark and gritty. They would probably have more in common with the original Brother’s Grimm fairy-tales than the ones we tell the children these days. Don’t come here expecting anything sweet and happy!

Before I continue, I should mention Sara Kipin. Obviously, Bardugo’s writing is what is really central to this book, but Kipin’s artwork is the perfect companion to these stories. I really, really enjoyed the illustrations in here and their mood matched the tone of the stories perfectly.

We get six short stories in this book, each one with its own real-world parallel or inspiration from myth, legend or fairy tale, such as Hansel and Gretal. There is, at least to my eye, a smidgen of Theseus and the Minotaur in one of these books. My personal favourites were The Witch of Duva and The Too-Clever Fox. Both of these tales, like all of them actually, had surprising little twists. Though, I did twig onto The Too-Clever Fox’s twist early on, I still enjoyed Bardugo’s execution of it. The Witch of Duva’s twist, I did not see coming!

Overall, I would certainly recommend this book. The writing style is easy to read, and due to its fairy tale inspiration, comfortable and familiar. The dark twists and fresh perspectives on usually light fairy tales are refreshing.

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