The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic, an imaginative addition to Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha novels, was originally intended to be a prequel. What it became instead was a collection of fairy tales filtered through the lens of Bardugo’s fictional world, the stories that its children may have been told at bedtime.

Book cover for Leigh Bardugo's "The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic"

The tales in The Language of Thorns are retellings of existing legends and fairy tales from our world, but with a dark twist. One is a combination of “Beauty and the Beast” and the legend of the Minotaur. Another is a combination of “Pinocchio” and “The Nutcracker.” A third is an origin story behind “The Little Mermaid.” Bardugo creates a lush environment for these timeless characters to inhabit, folding them seamlessly into her universe without losing the spark that made them special to ours.

However, the special treat in this book is the artwork. Each story is accompanied by full-color illustrations by Sara Kipin. These are much more than depictions of a specific scene in the story, but a series of sequential pieces placed in the margins. Shapes and colors grow and connect as the story goes on, until when you reach the end, there’s a full two-page mural of the ending . It’s a beautiful way to let the artwork help tell the story.

The power of Bardugo’s writing interwoven with Kipin’s darkly romantic imagery creates an unforgettable experience you’re unlikely to find in another storybook. This brings both the magic and the danger back to some of your favorite fairy tales.

Go here to check out The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic today!

If you’re interested in seeing more of the Grisha universe, start with Leigh Bardugo’s first novel, Shadow and Bone.



Library Assistant II at Chesapeake Public Library
Laurel works in the Adult Services department for the Chesapeake Public Library. She loves learning about new technology and is always mid-binge-watch on at least two different television series.

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