Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic - Leigh Bardugo (Illus. Sara Kipin)

Summary:  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, folklore, and fairytale, #1 New York Times - best selling 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 fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.  (Summary from back of book - Image from www.hachette.com.au and us.macmillan.com)

My Review:  The Language of Thorns is a collection of six tales full of thrilling magic, unlikely friendships, and dangerous deals that yield unexpected consequences.  Although each tale is unique, readers will find threads of the familiar myths and legends, hints of Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and others, as they wind their way through the stories.  I loved how the author incorporated wisps of more recognizable tales into her original work, often weaving several into one story.  For example, the first tale, Ayama and the Thorn Wood, has hints of at least three different fairytales and a dash of Greek mythology.  The overarching result is a gorgeous original work, filled with stories that feel ancient, delightfully creepy, and utterly unpredictable.

One of my favorite aspects of the book are the illustrations that corresponded with each story.  They began rather simply with a lone object -- a turret, a fox, a ribbon, a flower, a top hat, or a sea shell.  With each turn of the page, the drawing expands, lending new light to the story,  the images growing together from each side of the page until the end when readers are treated to an illustration that spans both pages and hints at the full meaning of each story.  As per usual, Bardugo's writing is evocative and atmospheric, but I felt the but Sara Kipin's artistry elevated everything and added to the overall experience of the book. 

Although this book is a book of fairytales, readers should expect something a little more Grimm than Disney.  Like the old fairytales, the stories do have some darker, more adult themes that might trouble or confuse younger readers.  It's not graphic but it's also not a children's book.  Though this book is subtly set in the Grishaverse, I believe it could be enjoyed by any reader, even one unfamiliar with the series.   Overall, it was a fun read and would be a great gift for someone who is a fan of fairytales or loves all things 'Bardugo.'

My Rating: 3.75 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader:    As with most fairytales, there are witches, curses, and magic.  No profanity that I picked up on.  Some violence.  Some allusions to intimacy between characters and brief mention of a kissing between and across genders.   

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