You know how stories go. Interesting things only happen to pretty girls; you will be home by sunset – Leigh Bardugo.
The Language of Thorns; Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic has been sitting on my top shelf for three months now. I always opted for another book, a different story. Little did I know that I would be hooked by six short tales, itching to get home to read them, and pining for more.
Leigh Bardugo has created something so wonderful and beautiful that it is almost hard to describe the dark beauty of the entire book. Every page is detailed with stunning words that drip with magic. They are accompanied by incredible illustrations by Sara Kipin, that grow and expand with every turn of the page. Each tale grips you with its ferocious claws, and you think you know the ending, just as you know the happily ever afters of every fairy tale you have heard before, but each story has a twist you do not see coming. Even after you understand the musical heart of each tale, it will surprise you in ways you cannot imagine. You will adore each twist, relish in it and wish that more tales spun the same magic of women overcoming their foes, of the evil having their own stories to tell, and of some endings being those that do not require the love of another, but only the love of ourselves.
The six dangerous tales offer an insight into the GrishaVerse. If you are familiar with it through Bardugo’s previous work (Six of Crows or Crooked Kingdom, for example), you will know of its magic and its power. If you are completely new to this world, The Language of Thorns is a good place to start. These tales are the ones the people of the GrishaVerse tell their children late at night by candlelight. They tell them about lying kings and mermaids with magical songs. All the stories we have been told are told differently in their world; I, for one, prefer their tales. They are darker; some will make your skin crawl, but they teach you many morals that will follow you from childhood through to your adult life.
There are tales about wolves and peasant girls who have no physical beauty of their own, about cunning foxes and toy soldiers who want to live and breathe, about witches who toss their step-daughters out into the cold woods, and about mermaids who are familiar to us all, but tell a story of their own.
If I had to choose one favourite – which is near-impossible – it would be the final tale in the collection: When Water Sang Fire. It was the longest, and the most intricate. It gauged the most reaction from me, so much so I had to read the final two paragraphs twice in order to fully understand the insinuations and the reveal. Let me tell you, I was shook to the core. I think I must have sat and contemplated it for a full ten minutes. I might read it all over again because I bet upon doing so, there will be tiny revelations about the characters throughout the alluring writing.
Whether you are a fan of Leigh Bardugo or not, this collection is one for every book lover’s shelf. You cannot help but admire its beauty for it is unlike any other book I have ever seen. It tells sadistic truths and it protects your heart from loving too fiercely, but it also revels in a world that blossoms magic and protects the weak so ferociously, there is surely no more evil in the GrishaVerse. Alas, if only that were true, for there is always another tale to be told, and another villain to be slain.
Have you read The Language of Thorns? What did you think? I would love to talk endlessly about this book so please message me so we can talk about it all the time!
Love, Faye xo