The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Review From User :

So shut the window tight and make sure the latch is fastened. Dark things have a way of slipping in through narrow spaces.

Bardugo is definitely at her best when writing short stories. These dark, haunting and beautifully-written little fairy tales had me reading at every spare moment. They have that timeless fairy tale quality, reminiscent of Neil Gaiman and Laini Taylor's Lips Touch: Three Times. And if you're considering whether it is worth buying a hardcover copy of The Language of Thorns - definitely go for it. It is STUNNING.

I actually wasn't aware that three of the stories are ones that were available online beforehand and that I had read already - The Too-Clever Fox, The Witch of Duva and Little Knife - but I also don't care that much because they are all fantastic and I read them again just to see them play out alongside the gorgeous illustrations.
"This goes to show you that sometimes the unseen is not to be feared and that those meant to love us most are not always the ones who do."
All of these stories take inspiration from classic fairy tales, but I wouldn't really call them retellings (except maybe the last one - When Water Sang Fire). Bardugo tells brand new stories with nods to the classics, such as The Little Mermaid and Hansel and Gretel, often leaving us with a very different ending or message than what we would have expected.

As she notes in the afterword, many fairy tales feature characters completing impossible tasks to win love or acceptance, but this has always felt... wrong somehow. Much of Bardugo's work here is guided by a sense of dissatisfaction with traditional fairy tales; a sense that maybe the villains were not who we first thought, and that maybe the love of a handsome prince isn't everything.

It is freaking fantastic for twisted, unromantic minds like mine. It is so satisfying to have my expectations shattered; to read sentences like the following and smile because I know, I just know, that it's about to be torn to shreds:
"Come now, Ayama. You know how the stories go. Interesting things only happen to pretty girls;"
I recommend this for anyone who enjoys fairy tale-style stories and/or retellings, regardless of whether you usually enjoy Bardugo's books or not. I get a completely different vibe from her short stories and they are nothing like the Shadow and Bone trilogy or the Six of Crows duology. I would be happy if she just kept releasing short story collections and forgot about the novels, to be honest.

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Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.
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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, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times-bestselling 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 a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

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