12 Days of Christmas 2017, Reviews

Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Happy New Year’s Eve! This year has been full of ups and downs, and unfortunately for me it was mostly downs. But! That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some ups as well! I became a reviewer for Simon & Schuster Canada, which is a dream come true; I completed my reading goal and even read 2 more than expected; AND I finally started London, which has been on my TBR for literally years. So I’m pretty proud of my reading this year. And to finish off the year I’m going to do a review!

So let’s talk about the latest book Leigh Bardugo has come out with – The Language of Thorns. To start off, I love this concept. To anyone who has ever felt that fairy-tales are overly optimistic, and always have a happy ending with the girl falling in love and marrying the boy and living happily ever after, Bardugo is here to switch things up. This book features six tales from countries in the Grisha Universe, with Ravkan, Zemeni, Fjerdan and Kerch origins.

Most stories take better known fairy tales and make them (in my opinion) better. For example, to me the tale “The Witch Of Duva” was very similar to Hansel and Gretel, but  much more interesting. With elements similar to the witch hunts in Salem, this story centers on a small town where young girls are stolen away, apparently by the witches that live in the woods nearby. When Nadya’s mother dies, her father remarries who she assumes to be the witch, and after a time she is driven out of her house and into the woods. What she learns changes her life forever, and she is forced to understand some difficult truths. I think that this story (along with Little Knife) was one of my favourites.

The other two Ravkan stories, Little Knife and The Too-Clever Fox, were also so interesting. As companion stories to Siege & Storm and Ruin & Rising, they extend on Ravkan lore and help us to better understand the characters origins. The Too-Clever Fox touches on how overestimating your abilities can be deadly, and Little Knife focuses on how even though you may possess something, it does not mean you can control it. Both stories are super interested, but Little Knife holds a dear place in my heart (I love Little Knife).

Before I talk about the stories anymore, I just want to mention the amazing illustrations that grace nearly every page in this collection of tales. Sara Kipin really made the characters come to life on the pages, and you can tell that a lot of effort went into making the illustrations reflect what was happening in the stories. They really augmented the experience for me, and sometimes I would just go and compare how they changed from page to page.

Ayama and the Thorn Wood is the first tale in the book, and talks about the ridiculous nature of fairy-tales themselves, and is Zemeni in origin. In this tale, Ayama, the underappreciated younger sister to the beautiful Kima, must defeat the Beast who is terrorizing her country. Through understanding and empathy, she defeats the true evil in the story, and lives a sort of happily ever. The Soldier Prince, a Kerch tale, is a take off of the Nutcracker, and focuses on autonomy and how forced service enslaves both the mind and body. And finally, When Water Sang Fire is a tragic and heart-breaking tale that seems to draw from The Little Mermaid (and personally, I enjoyed Bardugo’s version MUCH more than the original) and comes from Fjerda. It’s the longest and most intricate of all the stories, and I would definitely read more about this story. Ulla is such an incredible character, and even if Bardugo just wrote more short stories about her, I would get it without a doubt.

While I may focus on some stories more than others, I really loved each and every one of them. I read this in a couple hours, and never have I been more entertained by retellings! Bardugo is a masterful writer, and I’m so excited to see what she comes up with next!

Again, happy new years eve everyone! What are your plans if you have any? Personally, I’m going to stay in and watch some marvel shows with my family (we’re going in chronological order, and are currently so close to finishing Jessica Jones). I hope you had a great year, and that this final day is lovely! See you next year ducks!

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