The Language of Thorns


Title: The Language of Thorns

Writer: Leigh Bardugo

Publishing House: Imprint

Date of Publication: September 26th 2017

Rating:5 stars

”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.”

Leigh Bardugo is a writer that doesn’t need introductions. I haven’t read the Crows Duology but I enjoyed the Grisha Trilogy immensely and I knew that a short stories collection inspired by the Grisha universe would be as dark and complex as the Darkling’s fascinating world. I wasn’t disappointed. There are four original stories and two retellings of famous and beloved fairytales. Dark forests, sorrow, magic, ambition, love, and death. Witches, haunted towns, mermaids, mighty elements of Nature join in a dance macabre perfect for those of us who want our fairytales dark and twisted. Russian Folklore provides endless inspiration and Bardugo is a writer who knows how to make excellent use of it.

Ayama and the Thorn Wood: Two sisters, Ayama and Kima, and a misshapen boy, the son of a king. Terrible events start plaguing the citizens, results of a terrible injustice done to the child and it falls to Ayama to appease the wrath of the wronged prince. A beautiful tale that makes use of the traditional theme of the maiden who must soften the beast’s heart with her stories and her kindness.

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The Too-Clever Fox: A very clever fox and a mysterious girl in a haunting forest. A tale inspired by the mystical, and often violent, Russsian myths. This story will terrify you and show you the twisted, treacherous nature we all hide inside.

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”There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls.”

The Witch of Duva : If we think of dark, haunting and menacing forests, our mind should immediately wander off to the Russian landscape and the steppes with their vicious, otherworldly beauty. This is the setting of my favourite story in the collection. A dark, violent tale where the characters are far more different than they appear. A story that is worthy of five stars and a proper tale for the darkest winter nights.

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”It is dangerous to travel the northern road with a heavy heart.”

Little Knife: Dark woods, sad, and an abandoned city. A girl of supernatural beauty and her suitors. An all-powerful river and a good-for-nothing boy. A tale of Ravka that echoes the traditional Russian stories of the beautiful maiden and the impossible tasks a man would accomplish to win her hand. But be careful. There is an outstanding twist that few will be able to imagine. This was my second favourite story in the collection.

”Are you mine?”

The Soldier Prince: A haunting, menacing version of The Nutcracker. A beautiful, twisted journey to a favourite tale of our childhood. Reading this story felt like Christmas…

”Kneeling there, you hear the ice moan. The wind scrapes away at you, a razor on the stop. Even so. Be still and listen. Think of it as part of the bargain.”

When Water Sang Fire: A retelling of Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. Ulla and Signy. One grey and strange, the other beautiful and shallow. Ulla is a mermaid whose voice can gather storms, her temperament equally powerful. Signy is the vulnerable one, the girl who dreams of love and wealth. This version is darker and much more sensual than the original and I loved it.

Sara Kipin’s illustrations are beyond beautiful. The style, the colours….they embody the essence of each story in a unique way. Enough with my boring rumblings. This collection is unique and you need it in your life.

“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails”

(All illustrations are taken from the ebook)




  1. A beautiful review Amalia, and worthy of this magnificent collection! I enjoyed it as much as you did, and I think Leigh definitely has a knack for fairy tales, which is very rare among modern authors. 🙂 I immensely enjoyed the Six of Crows duology, but I think this collection is even better. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Marina! I will try my luck with the Six of Crows eventually:) She is an extremely talented writer.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Please tell me they are murderous mermaids! Ever since I saw the cover of the novella Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant, I’ve been eager to see more killer mermaids. It seems like Sirens are making a comeback, too.

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    1. He,he….They are murderous but for a good reason…I think you’ll love this story:)


      1. Hey, I see a lot of female rage out there. I’m assuming the mermaids are murderous for a good reason 😉

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