Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Title: The Language of Thorns
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Publication date: September 26, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Date read: October 20, 2017
My rating: ★★★★★

“You see, some people are born with a piece of night inside, and that hollow place can never be filled – not with all the good food or sunshine in the world. That emptiness cannot be banished, and so some days we wake with the feeling of the wind blowing through, and we must simply endure it as the boy did.”

Before I begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book, I have to tell you that I just LOVE everything Leigh Bardugo writes. As an avid reader, I know that the question of who your favourite author is almost seems impossible to answer. Every time someone used to ask me that question, I always just shrugged and said: “there are so many good writers, it’s impossible for me to choose a favourite!” That was, until I read the books from Leigh Bardugo.

I think it was about three years ago when I first began to read high fantasy (I know, shame on me for not reading it sooner), and I immediately fell in love with it. The first fantasy series I read was the Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo, and the moment I started reading the first novel, this whole new world opened up to me. I don’t know why it took me so long to start reading fantasy – I’d always been a huge fan of science fiction (I can’t even count on one hand how many times I read The Hunger Games), but fantasy, and more specifically high fantasy? No, I never wanted to read those novels. Until, one day, I decided to give it a try and I started reading Shadow and Bone. I immediately loved it – I think I read the whole series in just a couple of days time? Then came the Six of Crows duology and a whole lot of other fantasy novels by different authors, and fantasy (specifically high fantasy) has been my favourite genre ever since. Nowadays when someone asks me what my favourite author is, I always say Leigh Bardugo. Every novel she’s written so far has stolen my heart.

So you can imagine how excited I was when she announced that she was going to write The Language of Thorns, a collection of fairytales set in the world of the Grishaverse. I couldn’t wait to start reading these amazing fairytales that all the characters from her novels have grown up with reading! When I started reading I was immediately captured by Leigh Bardugo’s magical writing, and I just had to keep on reading.

Let me tell you a bit about this novel. It’s a collection of six fairytales, and all are beautifully illustrated by the very talented Sara Kipin. Every tale starts with the beginning of an illustration, and with each new page this illustration grows – until that particular story is over and it’s a full-page artwork. This whole book is just breathtakingly beautiful, from the cover to the illustrations inside!

The six fairytales – Amaya and the Thorn Wood, The Too-Clever Fox, The Witch of Duva, Little Knife, The Soldier Prince and When Water Sang Fire – are all SO good. Leigh Bardugo tells her tales using some classics we’ve all grown up with reading, such as Hansel and Gretel and The Little Mermaid, but she’s given them dark, unexpected twists and different messages that I didn’t see coming.

“Song was not just a frivolity then, something meant to entertain or lure sailors to their doom. The sildroher used it to summon storms and protect their homes, to keep warships and fishing boats from their seas.”

My favourite story was also the longest one: When Water Sang Fire. It’s about two girls living underseas. Ulla, one of the girls, has always been different than the other sea folk. No one really likes her, and in class no one wants to sing with her. Until, one day, this other girl is forced to sing with her. Together they create something beautiful, something magical, and from that moment onwards, they always sing together. Then comes the point that they both get the opportunity to go to the human lands, where they’ll be able to walk the lands as humans. Soon, Ulla will find out what it means to be human, and that the sea folk isn’t really that much different after all.

And, for those of you who’ve also read the Shadow and Bone series, the Darkling also makes an appearance in When Water Sang Fire! AAAH! The Darkling is one of my favourite characters EVER so I was so excited when I he appeared!

“You know how the stories go. Interesting things only happen to pretty girls; you will be home by sunset.”

There wasn’t a single story in this novel that I didn’t like or enjoy reading. Every fairytale was just so well-thought-out. I’m looking at the novel laying next to me right now, while writing this, and I already want to re-read it. This was most definitely one of my favourite reads of 2017. If you haven’t read this yet and if you love fairytales, I’d say this novel is perfect for you!

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  • Reply
    01/11/2017 at 18:46

    Goede review! Je hebt mij overtuigd het boek te lezen :). Een boek dat ik heb gelezen dat heel erg op The Language of Thorns lijkt is Tales of the Peculiar van Ransom Riggs, geweldig boek (ook met prachtige illustraties!!). Ik vroeg mij af wat je Goodreads username is zodat ik je kan toevoegen (alleen als je dat wilt).

    • Reply
      01/11/2017 at 19:04

      Dankjewel! Aah, leuk! Alvast veel leesplezier 🙂 ik heb Tales of the Peculiar nog niet gelezen (ik wil eerst graag de Miss Peregrine’s Home serie lezen voordat ik die lees)! Mijn Goodreads is aworldfullofbooks!

  • Reply
    02/11/2017 at 17:34

    Thank you for this great review. It is beautifully articulated. I have been meaning to read Leigh Bardugo’s works from a long time. I hope to read this next year 🙂

    • Reply
      02/11/2017 at 19:08

      Thank you! 🙂 Aw, you really should read her books, I’m sure you’ll love them!

  • Reply
    05/12/2017 at 23:40

    I also loved The Language of Thorns! Leigh Bardugo is such a great writer. I’ve only read the Six of Crows duology however – would you recommend the Shadow and Bone trilogy?

    • Reply
      06/12/2017 at 11:37

      I know right? She’s an amazing writer! Yes, I would definitely recommend the Shadow and Bone trilogy, I really loved reading it. 🙂

  • Reply
    29/12/2017 at 12:41

    Hi Charlotte,

    great review! I’m a big fan of Leigh Bardugo, too! I absolutely adore her books, her writing and her kind of humor 😀
    The language of thorns and Wonderwoman are still on my wishlist and I’m looking forward to read them!
    I also tried to read one if your reviews in Dutch. I had a few Dutch classes at university and some words are really similar to German. Your reviews are a great opportunity for me, to refresh some of the things I learned as I love reading in foreign languages 🙂

    Have a nice day!

    • Reply
      30/12/2017 at 13:19

      Hi Melli, thank you so much! <3 Yay, I'm sure you'll love Wonder Woman and The Language of Thorns as well, I thought they both were great. 🙂 I'm glad my Dutch reviews are helpful! I've got the same thing with German - I sometimes read German blogposts to practice my German reading skills (because I've also got a German class at school). Hope you're having a great day as well!

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