An interesting and complex piece of work that covers memory loss and family love tightly together. A short read, but also a missed opportunity of what could be a lovely novel, if developed in a better way.
It is Christmas Eve, but the furnace has gone out, the breaker needs to be reset and the cupboards are empty. In her cold house, Mrs. Langstrum is waiting for her husband to arrive from his quick trip to the store. As a snowstorm is approaching, Mrs. Langstrum gets worried. But just as she decides to get help, someone knocks on her door. A visitor. A stranger. But before she can tell him to go, he says he has news about her husband.
The blurb was the main reason I picked up this book. You sort of get the idea of what this book might be about. A mystery person arrives, and he has a story. The woman has a story, and the setting makes you curious about how this will continue to unravel.
The plot is complex, and even though it’s a very short book, the story went incredibly slow. The plot twist happened at the begging, and knowing this, I expected another one, as the beginning was obvious. In the end, when no other plot twists happen, and the book ends exactly how you thought it would end at the beginning, you are felt disappointed and unsatisfied.
I really loved the idea of the woman who has a memory loss, and a person that reveals information bit by bit. Going from other perspectives and back in time, it was a nice concept. I also really enjoyed the family relationships captured, and all the challenges openly discussed. We have some big taboo subjects here, and not many people are brave enough to openly talk about this.
However, this whole concept, and idea, was not delivered as it should’ve been, as it had the capacity to. There was room for more development, more work, and more plot twists.
Some parts are confusing, and it was nice that the story was so short and you could go back to it and re-read it, but is that really a good thing? Would we go back and re-read a 300-page book if it was confusing? I wouldn’t.
Sometimes, we enter a library, not really knowing what we are looking for. One day, I entered the library, only to return a few books. Instead, I returned with two more. The first one didn’t impress me, but the second one was this book –The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. I only picked it up, because I liked the cover. And I know, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I guess the magic worked on me this time around.
This book featured six stories, all six magical and beautiful in their own way. Some attracted me more, some a bit less, but I, overall, feel delighted to have read this book. I haven’t read Leigh’s previous books, so I didn’t know about this world before, but these are apparently the same woods featured in those books as well.
I will give a brief opinion on all stories, and the main rating will be the average from them all. Let’s go.
1. Ayama and the Thorn Wood – ★★★★★
‘’Interesting things only happen to pretty girls.’’
A beautiful tale that will show you how beauty comes from within. The King and Queen have two sons – one is a beautiful man, the future king, and the other one is a monster. They are scared and ashamed of the monster-boy, and let him live his life in the labyrinth they made for him. In the village, in a poor family, there are two daughters, one as beautiful as the sun, and the other one ugly. When the monster escapes the labyrinth and starts ruining fields and make disasters, everyone is scared to go and talk to him and beg for forgiveness, so the ugly lady is sent to her woods – quite certain she will never return…
‘’This little prince was shaped a bit like a boy but more like a wolf, his body covered in slick black fur from crown to clawed foot. His eyes were red as blood, and the nubs of two budding horns protruded from his head.’’
2. The Too-Clever Fox – ★★★★★
‘’Freedom is a burden, but you will learn to bear it.’’
I loved this story the most, out of all six of them. It reminded me of home, and of how we tell stories back there. The whole ‘’Once Upon a Time’’ is real, and I enjoyed every moment of it. The winter theme, the hunting, the girl and the fox. This is a story that will teach you to not be assured you can outsmart everyone. Foxes in stories have always been presented as the smart ones, outsmarting every animal in the woods. This reminds me of Aesop’s Tales, which I really loved as a little girl. But sometimes, you will get outsmarted, and it might cost you your life. The twist was definitely unexpected, but indeed satisfying.
3. The Witch of Duva – ★★★
A story where girls disappear, and one girl decides to go into the woods and try to figure out why. This story upset me, and I didn’t like it. But deep inside, it’s a good one. Very creepy though, and very horror-y, but worth reading. Turn the lights off, get under a blanket, turn your torch on, and only then you will be ready to know the deep secrets this story tells you.
4. Little Knife – ★★★★
The shortest story in the book, but by all means not the least intriguing. A story that features a woman that is too beautiful, that men lose their mind as soon as they see her. To get the chance to marry her, men will have to go through a various of tasks. The twist at the end is incredible, and I really liked it. It starts off as a usual story, but it goes wild.
5. The Soldier Prince – ★★
This was a story I enjoyed the least. It all screamed ‘’The Nutcracker’’ to me, and I couldn’t see it as original. It was a re-make, and it was very different that the story we know, but it just didn’t work for me. This is a story about a man who makes toys and gives them life. And when one toy sort of ‘’wakes up’’, interesting things start to happen. Quite a creepy story. I usually like those, but this one was not my cup of tea.
6. When Water Sand Fire – ★★★★
‘’ We were not made to please princes.’’
This one is the longest story in the book. It features a world of creatures living underwater, and Ulla, who can sing and create magic, but who, as the people believe, is not a true born, but a mix between the underwater world and the humans. She is asked to help the prince become a king, but when the magic price is too high to paid, it doesn’t seem like she has a choice. I truly enjoyed this story, as it’s a beautiful mix of emotions while you read it. It was a bit disappointing that it seems as a remake of the creation of the character of Ursula from The Little Mermaid, at least to me.
Have you read this book, or any of Leigh Bardugo’s books? Let me know in the comments, I love to chat with you!