Book Review: The Language of Thorns




Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

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.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.


At the time of writing this review Goodreads have rated this as 4.47 out of 5

Opening Lines

In the year that summer stayed too long, the heat lay upon the prairie with the weight of a corpse. The tall grass withered to ash beneath the unforgiving sun, and animals fell dead in the parched fields. That year, only the flies were happy, and trouble came to the queen of the western valley.


Hi Leigh.

My name is Gerry.

It’s been lovely to meet you.

I hope I meet you again soon.


Quick quiz, fill in the answer: “Now, I don’t know much”:-

a) about biology

b) but I know I love you

c) but I do know that Six of Crows is highly lauded and really popular

A is true, B I hardly knows ‘ya but I’m sure you’re lovely and C is also true. If I hear anything about Six of Crows it’s about how good it is and even though I don’t know who they are I know enough to recognise the names Kaz, Inej and Nina. I also know enough to recognise the concept of ‘Grishaverse’ without actually knowing what a ‘Grishaverse’ is.

My friends, this will have to change.

I’d heard of these books and thought, “I’ll whack it on my TBR for some point in the future.” I didn’t even really know that Leigh Bardugo was the writer or what exactly she had written.

I picked up The Language of Thorns for three reasons:-

  1. The cover was very pretty and I was sucked in by the aesthethic
  2. The Language of Thorns just seemed like such a cool title and if I had a book I would want to call it that myself
  3. It was a collection of short fairy tale stories and I am a goner for fairy tale’s

What I didn’t realise was that these were fairy tale stories that could exist in this expanded ‘Grishaverse’ that has been created. But fear not! If, like me, you haven’t read any of the other books this won’t impact your enjoyment of The Language of Thorns.

I’m sure for those who have read Leigh Bardugo’s other books there are some Easter eggs in this collection that will only add to your experience but for those who haven’t this is still a stand-alone collection of short fairy tales.

The collection is short – six stories – and each one is reminiscent of fairy tales that are common place to us but with a bit of a twist. We have a strange retelling of The Nutcracker, an almost alternate universe villain origin story in When Water Sang Fire and a creepy twist to Hansel and Gretel where nothing is as it seems. In fact in all the tales, nothing is quite as it seems.

But I like it. Go twisted or go home I say.

I mean, I don’t say that but I could start. 

I think it is very hard to get tone of modern/ alternative/ re-told fairy tale’s right and in this instance I think the writer manages to do a very good job of it. These read like they could be real fairy tales in terms of tone and contain the dark underbelly of what has often been lost in re-telling’s or alternate versions.

I like the writers’s writing style and I thoroughly enjoyed her ability to weave the story out and make us care about the characters in a short space of time. My favourites were When Water Sang Fire – I am a sucker for mermaids anyway but this had me on tenterhooks the entire time wondering how it was going to play out, and The Witch of Duva where I was surprised that I didn’t get the twist.

There’s not much more I feel like I could say other than – I really liked this and if this is an introduction to Leigh Bardugo than I feel like I have a lot more to look forward to.

What I also need to say is that I picked up the hardcover version and I don’t know if its the same in all versions but the illustrations – awesome. Just awesome. I want to write a book and have someone illustrate all my pages like what was happening here.

I’m never lending my copy out. Nope. Not to no one.

I enjoyed this very much! If I had a street, this book would have wandered right up it. And probably ate some pedestrians on its way.

My Rating

4 Star



5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Language of Thorns

  1. I gave this book the same rating! I agree the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, and even though I DID read Six of Crows and the first book in the Grisha trilogy, I didn’t even catch the Grishaverse stuff because this book stands so well on its own. Excellent review!

    Liked by 1 person

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