An absolute treasure trove of wonderfully wicked and unflinchingly honest stories. These stories are not in the business of wish fulfillment—not to say that some of them don’t have “happy endings,” but rather that those endings always come at a cost. If these tales are dark, it is only because they refuse to pretend that the dark doesn’t exist. And let me tell you, Bardugo’s writing is just exquisite.

from the ones I liked most to the ones I liked least: (though really all of these were top notch—there wasn’t a single story I even slightly disliked)

“Ayama and the Thorn Wood” – 4.5/5 stars (by far my favourite)

“You see, some people are born with a piece of night inside, and that hollow place can never be filled—not with all the good food or sunshine in the world. That emptiness cannot be banished, and so some days we wake with the feeling of the wind blowing through, and we must simply endure it as the boy did.”

“The Witch of Duva” – 4.5/5 stars

“So shut the window tight and make sure the latch is fastened. Dark things have a way of slipping in through narrow spaces.”

“The Solider Prince” – 4.25/5 stars

“Wanting is why people get up in the morning. It gives them something to dream of at night. The more I wanted, the more I became like them, the more real I became.”

“When Water Sang Fire” – 4/5 stars

“Song was all she had and so she clung to it, honed and perfected it, as though if she could only sharpen her skill to a fine enough point, she might carve a true place for herself in the world.”

“Little Knife” – 3.5/5 stars

“Remember that to use a thing is not to own it. And should you ever take a bride, listen closely to her questions. In them you may hear her true name like the thunder of a lost river, like the sighing of the sea.”

“The Too Clever Fox” – 3.5/5 stars

“The trap is loneliness, and none of us escapes it. Not even me.”

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