The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my first introduction to the Grishaverse and perhaps my expectations were too high. I have seen a lot of hype online about Bardugo’s work and this book in particular because it is visually so stunning but unfortunately a lot of the stories either left me cold or confused.

A collection of stories inspired by myth, folklore and fairytale is usually so up my street, but in this instance I found some of the stories overly long for the plot they held, with too much flowery description and confusing conjecture. Perhaps this is because I haven’t yet read any of Bardugo’s other works but I just wasn’t captivated by the stories in the way I had hoped to be.

My favourite of the stories were “the too-clever fox” and “the witch of duva”. Both of these stories were concise and kept the pace they needed to make the climax of the stories impactful. I much preferred the stories which had some kind of surprising twist to their end, rather than the more fairy tale type stories which ended a bit weakly, or whose twists were obvious e.g. “Little Knife”.

Writing aside, the sheer beauty of this edition deserves a mention. Each story has a beautiful illustration bordering each page, and as the chapter continues more and more is added to the illustration until it completely surrounds the text on the page. Sara Kipin’s style is absolutley gorgeous and I spent a long time looking at the detail in all of the pictures, particularly the full page illustrations at the end of each story.

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