Just as with Tales of Beetle the Bard and Tales of the Peculiar, Language of Thorns is a collection of fairy tales set in the universe of Bardugo's other works, namely the Grishaverse of the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Being the sucker for fairy tales that I am and having absolutely loved the Six of Crows duology, I just had to get this one and see how this one turned out. In short, it turned out well. Very well.
Walking, breathing gingerbread babies. A coat made from the pelts of all kinds of animals. A prince that rules the land and his brother who rules the woods. These are but a few of the mystical elements you can find within these six tales of magic, murder, love, revenge, triumph and despair. From Novyi Zem to Ravka, from Kerch to Fjerda, these tales tell of using ones wits to determine their own destinies and to teach the harsh truths of life and the rewards of the courageous and just.
As was the story with Tales of the Peculiar, these fairy tales are not kid stuff. There are some very heavy themes and some really dark material woven into these stories. That being said, it's part of their charm. These are the kinds of tales that would get an older reader invested in fairy tales again. They have a sense of wonder and their ability to discuss serious subject matters leads to a really beautiful mixture that drags you in and keeps you invested. The language and flow of each tale is remarkable and I really admired them for what they had to say.
Now, something I did notice pretty quickly is that some of these stories have rather obvious parallels with traditional fairy tales. Adam and the Thorn Wood is a Beauty and the Beast tale, The Witch of Duva is a play of Hansel and Gretel, The Soldier Prince is a retelling of The Nutcracker and so on and so forth. This isn't a bad thing, per se, not at all. Just because the elements of the story are more familiar instead of fresh like Beetle the Bard, setting them in the Grisha world and weaving in a bit of that world's atmosphere, culture, and language into these tales makes them unique and not just another, overly dark attempt at rewriting traditional fairy tales. While there are parallels, they still stand out as their own stories and, just because Hansel and Gretel ended one way, does NOT mean that the Witch of Duva will end the same way. They're unique enough to be called their own stories yet familiar enough so that they're easily recognized as fairy tales. It was a tiny tidbit that I appreciated a lot.
Not much to say about this story except...read it. Just read it. You'll like it, I promise. Any fan of Bardugo's work or of fairy tales in general is going to love this book. It's well written, has style and character all its own and I'm happy to say this baby is worth your money at your local bookstore!
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Next Time: Rise of the little lightning girl rebellion....