[Review] The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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Hey guys! So I noticed this was one of those books everyone wanted to read and I was kind of onboard as well. Me more so because this was a book of short stories and others probably because they were fans of the author. Then one day I decided to check out this library near my job and they had this book already (along with many other new ones). I figured I’d pick it up and here I am, 3 days later, having already completed it

So yes, The Language of Thorns is a book of 6 short stories by Leigh Bardugo about love, betrayal, sacrifice, and wit. Apparently only 3 of them are actually new (since the first three are novellas to her series The Grisha


When reading this, I tried to read every story in one sitting, just to get the whole fairytale feel of them, which is very present in the way they’re told and even the illustrations framing the margins. And each one got a different rating for me, but all of them ranging from 3 to 5 stars. Well, maybe except one that got a 2/5 (The Soldier Prince)

The three novellas in this book are The Too Clever Fox, The Witch of Duva, and Little Knife, and are some of my favorite of the bunch. I just felt like they were more complete and fleshed out for some reason even though they were some of the shorter stories. I especially really liked The Too Clever Fox, which I started to tell my mom about and we both just laughed at how cunning Koja was. The Witch of Duva, of the three, felt more slow paced but the ending just shook me so it fell into my favorites. And the Little Knife I really enjoyed because of the twist at the end, plus the lgbtq elements (I mean, the water was a woman so…)

But if I have to be honest, I think When Water Sang Fire was my favorite because it’s like the prequel to the Little Mermaid and I just LOVE that story. It was the longest story of the bunch (and the last) but I just loved the darkness, betrayal, sacrifice, and love shown in this story. There was one thing in there that I was a bit sad never amounted to anything, but aside from that, I’d love to see that story be completely illustrated or even made into a mini-movie

“Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.”

One of the things that tied all the stories together was that there was no happily ever after like you would see in a Disney fairytale. Yes, Koja was a very cunning fox, but he grew too full of himself and had to pay the price. Yes, Nadya finally came home after spending her winter with Magda but a more terrible truth was revealed to her. Yes, the duke in Little Knife cared for his daughter and wanted her to want for nothing, but his greed got the best of him and many suffered for it. And so each story had a little moral at the end, almost warning us that too much of anything is bad

In terms of The Soldier Prince, the reason I didn’t like it was because I found it hard to care for the characters. We had Clara who was always stuck in her dream world with her Prince and would do anything to just stay there, but it wasn’t because she had a bad upbringing or anything. She lived a good life with a brother and parents who cared for her. And the Soldier Prince just felt too hesitant for me. Considering his circumstances I feel like I should be more understanding, but it was just missing that magic I wanted

But in terms of a moral or message, it was very clear. Or at least, my take on it was that you need to truly desire something in order for it to come true, and that you should live your own life, unburdened from others’ wishes

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Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and I can totally see a parent reading these stories to their kids as they grow up. They just have that storytime feel to them and that’s sort of what I did with my mom and brother when I was reading about Koja. By the way, the illustrations are fantastic! I love all of the ones right after the story but the ones in the margins are also very nice. The book is also color coded in a way so each story alternates between red and blue text/images

I ended up rating this book a 4/5 on Goodreads!

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3 thoughts on “[Review] The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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