My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Language of Thorns is a collection of dark fairy tales that have been combined into this gorgeous illustrated book. Bardugo took tales that readers might be familiar with and some wholly her own creation, then crafted them to fit into the Grisha-verse. These are stories that the characters in her novels might have grown up hearing and now the reader gets to experience them as well. At the back of the book, she also mentioned which area each tale comes from like Ravka or Kirsch. Half of the stories in this book were previously released as e-shorts and the other half are brand new.
The first tale in this novel is ‘Ayama and the Thorn Wood’, which was a fascinating tale about two brothers or two sisters and the importance (or lack thereof) of looks. It was so beautifully written and I enjoyed the moral of the story – not all that glitters is gold and it is what is on the inside that counts.
The second tale in this novel is ‘The Too-Clever Fox’, which was a previously released story. As I had read this tale before it felt like it dragged a little at times and was not as interesting to me upon rereading as some of the other tales, but I don’t want to judge it based upon that fact because it might just be because I had read it previously.
The third tale in this novel is ‘The Witch of Duva’, which I believe was also previously released. This haunting tale pulls some inspiration from Hansel and Gretel but ends up weaving a narrative in a completely different direction. I also would warn some readers against this tale as there are a number of triggers in it (although that is very authentic to the real, gruesome fairy tales written in our world).
The fourth tale in this novel is ‘Little Knife’, which was previously released. I had read it before and found it to be a little tedious at times, but I appreciated the message that you should not take things or people for granted, you own yourself and no one is entitled to you, and love can come from unexpected places.
The fifth tale in this novel is ‘The Soldier Prince’, which is based on the Nutcracker so the tone of the story might be immediately familiar to you. Although I hadn’t read this one before, I found my attention flagging at times during this story but enjoyed my read of it overall.
The sixth and final tale in this novel is ‘When Water Sang Fire’, which was so fascinatingly dark and twisty that I had no idea where it was going to lead. It felt like the origin story of Ursula and I was on board just for that, but it was also quite long and my attention drifted at times.
Honestly, I was enamored by the artwork above all else. This book is absolutely gorgeous and deserves to be on your bookshelf just because of the illustrations. They cover each page of the book and grow as the story goes on. They were everything and perfectly matched the stories that Bardugo wrote.