‘The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic’ by Leigh Bardugo is a dream.
This is a collection of Bardugo’s own tales. They are in short:
Ayama and the Thorn Wood – a child who turned servant to her family, becomes a hero to her village.
The Too-Clever Fox – an ugly fox who learns to survive on his wit, but has a close shave (excuse the pun).
The Witch of Duva – a story of missing girls and a witch in the wood. Note: inappropriate for younger readers, most like the fairytales of old.
Little Knife – a woman so beautiful her father had to set tasks for her suitors, Little Knife won.
The Soldier Prince – a maker creates a nutcracker in the hope of winning a girl’s affections but in the end becomes the toy himself.
When Water Sang Fire – a story about betrayal and hunger for acceptance that leaves a bitter and sad taste in everyone’s mouth.
These midnight tales are decadent things. They are rich with forbidden thoughts and they fit well with the Grimm tales. I would be hard pressed to say which are better but I feel that these stories have more substance and realism to them and so they are more frightening. I perhaps wouldn’t let my daughter read them until she is past the age of understanding but they are definitely worth the read. These stories are to be savoured and to be able to experience all that they offer, night-time is when you need to read them.
Because these are fairytale inspired, the depth of the characters aren’t like what you would expect from Bardugo. Fairytales were told to pass the time and because they were spoken, they had to be short so that the main story wasn’t forgotten or altered. The rest, such as character descriptions, either didn’t matter or could be embellished by each speaker. The only story in which you were able to connect with the characters (for me anyway) was ‘When Water Sang Fire’. This was the longest tale and Bardugo said herself that it took the longest to write as it had the least amount of groundwork compared to the others. It had the most emotional pull out of them all and it was chilling. As were all the tales.
Bardugo’s previous work includes amazing world building and such detail that I thought this book would be less a collection of tales as opposed to a collection of novellas. I’m glad to have been proved wrong. Bardugo is a sorceress. Her ability to tap into that fairytale essence and adapt her style is what makes this book better than the stories of Grimm. I enjoyed this book immensely and I took my time with it to make it last. Perfection.
P.s. The illustrations for this were beyond incredible and made the tales come alive.
“Bad fates do not always follow those who deserve them.”
You can get it here
I received this in Illumicrate’s ‘The Grisha Edition’ box & FairyLoot’s October ‘Villainous’ box.