Parents' Guide to

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Deliciously dark, illustrated Grisha world fairy tales.

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Author Leigh Bardugo channels the Brothers Grimm but from a feminist angle for this collection of six deliciously dark and dreamlike fairy tales set in her Grisha world. You know these succeed as fairy tales with that classic feel when you fall asleep reading them and wake up wondering what part you dreamed and what was actually a part of The Language of Thorns. And they succeed just as well for more modern readers who are less entranced by the idea that a prince will solve everything or the prettiest girl gets the best outcome. Girls need cunning and bravery -- not looks -- here. And the princes are either monsters or cads.

The illustrations by Sara Kipin seem to sprout like vines around the margins as each tale unfolds. Every illustrated page draws out curious details: bones mixed with ribbons and potions, the haughtiness of a malicious toy maker's haircut, candle smoke steadily devouring magical singers as their fate unfolds. They add that storybook quality, which makes reading them at midnight, as instructed, an even more delicious endeavor. Get the campfire ready.

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