Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings, Short Stories
Who knew that genuine beauty can be found in midnight tales infused with a dash of twisted?
“Bad fates do not always follow those who deserve them.”
The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic is a collection of tales inspired by folklore and beloved stories, such as The Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel and The Nutcracker, but they follow a different path. Through lush, marvelous illustrations and words that warm your heart only to tear it from your chest, between thorns drawing blood entwined with fragnant roses, Leigh Bardugo weaves six hauntingly beautiful and disturbing tales, that stir a wave of unease that you cannot quell. You think you know where the story goes, but the ending is always unconventional, and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth; they teach you that, perhaps, you got all the stories wrong. The heroine does not always ride into the sunset on the back of her one true love's steed. Her one true love may be cruel, greedy or manipulative, the ones meant to protect her those who inflict devastating pain, and fairy god-mothers do not save the day. While your hair curls from the steam rising out of the witch's pot, and your fingers grow sticky with the burnt sugar of the candies you savored, you delve into dangerous magic, you're outsmarted by pretty facades and deep down, you're greatful your grandmother did not narrate you those tales when you were only a child, craving adventure and romance, because she would have doomed you into a childhood deprived of sleep. But mind that with her deliciously creepy tales, Leigh Bardugo takes you back to Ravka, Fjerda and Kerch, to lands familiar yet peculiar, where you once experienced joy, heartbreak and love.
You feel at home.
“This is the problem with making a thing forbidden. It does nothing but build an ache in the heart.”
Ayama and the Thorn Wood follows a loud but neglected girl and her encounters with a terrible beast, while The Too-Clever Fox focuses on an ugly but cunning fox trying to outsmart a devious predator. The Witch of Duva is the story of young Nadya, who lives in a vilage near haunted woods, where girls go missing and an evil stepmother drives her to the witch's lair. In Little Knife a poor man tries to win the heart of the duke's beautiful daughter, who doesn't use his wits and courage to pass the trials set but the greedy duke, but calls to magic instead. Only magic has, as always, a price. The Soldier Prince narrates how the creations of a wicked clocksmith came to life and claimed their destiny, and my personal favorite, When Water Sang Fire, goes back in time, when mermaids took human form and sang tempests and storms.
“When no one is looking at you, or whispering to you, who are you then?”
A collection of six lavishly illustrated tales that blend folklore with wondrous creativity and a pinch of darkness, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic is the perfect read for cold weather and thirsty hearts in search of magic.