Monday, December 4, 2017

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Summary from Goodreads:
Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires 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.
I’m not generally a big fan of stories or novellas that take place between novels –set in the same world as an author’s bigger series. Needless to say, I had not read any of these stories before. I’m so glad I got to read them for the first time in this format because the format is beautiful. The illustrations in here are just gorgeous. They are the stuff of dreams that any author would hope for.
And I know these are big words, but I have to say them; this is my favorite book by Leigh Bardugo. This book was pure fun to read. Sometimes books of short stories are too easy to put down –because of the large breaks between stories. This book was not like that. I just quickly devoured one story and then another. They were that good. I also just want to take a moment right now to relish the fact that we have a book of fantasy short stories, period. This is such a rare treat.
Also a treat, the worlds Bardugo weaves together with her dark, magical words. She excels at accomplishing the dark fairytale feel. Reading them felt like reading Brother’s Grimm fairy tales. Yet, they also felt uniquely special. They all tended to have endings different from what I was accustomed to. They also all tended to favor a strong female protagonist or antagonist. They were also all tales based off of, or with elements of ones I know.
I loved the first tale: “Ayama and the Thorn Wood.” It was a story filled with stories, and I always tend to favor those. I loved how it opened up everything and worked as the perfect first story. I also love how some of Bardugo’s stories appear to be about one thing, and then end up being something else entirely. I love the twist Bardugo gave to the Little Red Riding Hood story. I was pleasantly shocked and in awe of how that one resolved. And I think my favorite story of all was “The Soldier Prince.” It’s not often one gets to read retellings of the Nutcracker. What a dark, twisty version of that story it was too. I kept thinking, how did she come up with this, while reading it.
I also have major appreciation of the last story, “When Water Sang Fire.”  I fell hopelessly and helplessly in love with the mermaids. I loved the elements of friendship. It made me think of the musical, Wicked, on many levels, even though it was such a little mermaid origin story. This was a story I guessed correctly on the outcome for. Normally, this would bother me because I was so surprised throughout. But, I kind of liked knowing this one; it helped me get through some of the tough stuff that happened at the end of it.
All of the tales are dark, twisty, and fun. I love the sense of feminism present throughout it all. I love the sense of magic and how things are rarely what they seem. I fell head over heals for the words. The writing is beautiful. The illustrations fit everything perfectly. I couldn’t wait to see how the illustrations changed throughout each story. It was quite impressive. All in all, Bardugo created an excellent book of redone fairytales. You don’t need to be familiar with her other work to appreciate it. You just need to love dark fairy tales. I give it a 10/10.

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