Mini-Review | The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns cover
Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

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.

5 cupcakes

This collection of incredibly inventive, dark, and atmospheric short stories was completely enthralling, to the point where I didn’t even mind that I had already read a few of the included tales. Where the stories draw inspiration from classic fairy tales, such as The Little Mermaid and Hansel and Gretel, it’s just that: inspiration. This collection frequently subverts the source material in unexpected ways, creating a world where true love isn’t the solution to all problems. It’s one of the rare anthologies where I loved every single story and can’t wait to give it another read.

Book Review: The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff & Tessa Gratton

From acclaimed YA authors Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff comes The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories.

– A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.
– Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.
– A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream).

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction.

But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie, Tessa, and Brenna have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website merryfates.com. Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing—all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author’s comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors.

So, are you curious now?

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

The Curiosities is a collection of mostly unedited short stories, complete with notes from the author that discuss their inspiration for the story, some of the reasons why they chose certain ideas, and what they were hoping to accomplish with it. I loved getting a glimpse into Maggie, Tessa, and Brenna’s heads – not only to help me with my own writing, but to help me appreciate theirs even more.

One of my favourite aspects of anthologies is that they let you “sample” an author’s writing. The Curiosities reaffirmed my love for Maggie’s vivid writing and compelling narrative voice, while introducing me to Brenna’s subtle magic and Tessa’s imaginative voice. Maggie’s works are already a permanent fixture on my to-read list and, after finishing this collection, Brenna and Tessa’s will be as well.

The stories themselves were equal parts creepy, confusing, and enthralling. I was amazed by how much worldbuilding and character establishment could occur in such a limited amount of page time, and found myself wishing that many of the stories could keep going.

A few of my favourites:
The Vampire Box (Tessa)
A Murder of Gods (Maggie)
Scheherazade (Brenna)
Puddles (Tessa)
The Bone-Tender (Brenna)
Heart-Shaped Box (Maggie)