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The Language of Spells

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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  684 ratings  ·  198 reviews
Grisha is a dragon in a world that's forgotten how to see him. Maggie is a unusual child who thinks she's perfectly ordinary. They're an unlikely duo—but magic, like friendship, is funny. Sometimes it chooses those who might not look so likely. And magic has chosen Grisha and Maggie to solve the darkest mystery in Vienna. Decades ago, when World War II broke out, someone d ...more
Hardcover, 299 pages
Published June 26th 2018 by Chronicle Books
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  684 ratings  ·  198 reviews


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Hannah Greendale
Weyr’s magical tale of dragons living in twentieth century Vienna and of an eleven-year-old motherless girl who befriends a dragon has enormous potential but suffers under the weight of its flaws.

The Language of Spells opens in the Black Forest with Benevolentia Gaudium or “Grisha,” an “ordinary” looking baby dragon with “golden eyes” whose “scales were shades of green, brown, and orange.”* Grisha grows in the safety of the forest where he’s content to “linger over the first blooms of spring, t
...more
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
This is a dragon’s tale set during and post the World Wars with a European backdrop. Thus, an unexpected setting, it is a whimsical read for young middle graders about friendship and survival during authoritarian rule.

Grisha was born a very special dragon. He loved his childhood among the forest and others of his kind. Far away seemed the idea that anything could ever happen that would change his peaceful life. But when an evil sorcerer turns him into a teapot, his whole being stays froze for m
...more
Amy Imogene Reads
3.5 stars

This was precious. I loved this quiet tale filled with wholesome friendships and conversations, but there were a few aspects that I had a hard time taking in.

Concept: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★ 1/2
Wholesome feels: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★
Ending: ★ 1/2

The Language of Spells is on the younger end of the middle grade spectrum. For older readers who read middle grade for the action, I don't think this book is necessarily for you—it's a quieter tale—warm, cozy, and relatively slow.

With that in mind, The
...more
Jen
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
*I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

This was adorable. It was very The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, if The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland was set in historical Vienna. It’s slow and quirky and bittersweet, beautifully written and full of unique characters.

I almost don’t know what to say about it other than to tell you what it’s about, because telling you what it’s about would be telling you exactly what’s good ab
...more
Rajiv
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2018-books
A BIG Thank You to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for providing me a copy of “The Language of Spells″ by Garret Weyr in exchange for my review. Before I begin, I would like to say that I have read some of the other reviews for this book, where readers criticize it for not doing justice for WWII and Jewish people. I am not basing my rating on that aspect as I didn’t have these expectations when reading the story. Having said that, this book was a mixed bag for me. While I enjoyed some aspects of t ...more
Elizabeth
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is not a story that will appeal to everyone (perhaps not even some of those intrigued by the description). It starts out slowly. The main plot makes a rather late entrance, which results in a resolution that may strike readers as rushed. Despite this irregular pacing, however, I enjoyed "The Language of Spells" immensely.

The style is decidedly old-fashion, which, again, may put some people off. I loved it. The story-telling charmed me, bringing to mind the fanciful tales I enjoyed in child
...more
Tabor
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
The more I think about this story, the more I think that nothing really happened in this story. This book follows the life of Grisha, a dragon who spent most of his early life as an enchanted tea pot. Eventually, he is freed and forced to relocate to Vienna after the events of WWII. Here, something terrible happens to his fellow dragons but he can't remember what exactly. Luckily, Grisha mets Maggie, who probes into his past, and forces him to remember. They set out on an adventure to free and t ...more
Robin
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya, arcs
Loved this little book. "The Language of Spells" is a short and quick read, but better to read slow in order to enjoy the author's beautiful use of language and description. This book draws you into a world of fantasy and magic, a world where dragons gave way to technology leaving Grisha all alone. He spent decades as a prisoner, trapped inside a teapot and watching the world around him from a limited view. I found myself heartbroken reading through it. Weyr's skill shines in the text, making re ...more
Sue
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Update: This book seems especially relevant read nowadays with our government keeping immigrants prisoner. It's a decent metaphor (though not perfect), with some good lessons about imprisoning other people.

A dragon and an 11 year old girl become friends and go on a quest to free dragons that are under a sleeping curse, imprisoned beneath Vienna. Talking cats, an evil magician who turns Grisha into a teapot, and a strong lesson in discrimination feature in this fantasy novel with pencil-sketch i
...more
Yaritza
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it
A magical story with dragons, sorcerers and humans. A dragon named Grisha, was turned into a tea pot and lived many years with no mobility but hearing and seeing. He was released from the spell, but after being free other rules had to be obeyed. Dragons were divided an hidden with a sleeping spell. Grisha and Maggie work together to free the dragons, but by doing so, Maggie had to give up something she cherished. Garret is a good story teller. It is an easy read for young readers. I loved the il ...more
Taisiya Maslennikova
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-work
This is quite a charming story about the friendship between dragon named Grisha and "human girl child" Maggie.
Main thing to say about this book that it's not the kind of a book that can make a child read. This is a book for children which already love reading. It contains many deatiled and nice description of people, places and situations. It raises different kinds of problems, from the problem of remembering and forgetting to the problem of every kind of discrimination. It's quite smart, but n
...more
Lesley
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Parts of this descriptive and sweet novel are truly wonderful-- for instance the descriptions of a dragon trapped in another form watching humans go about their daily lives are vivid and compelling. And the author is good at conveying a sense of place (Vienna, the dragons' forests, etc) and atmosphere. But there is a certain abrupt lack of transition and explanation that leave the book somewhat flat. You get enough to interest you in a story, but perhaps not enough to satisfy you, or make the bo ...more
Carrie (brightbeautifulthings)
I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Chronicle Books.

The Language of Spells is a middle grade novel about a dragon named Grisha who befriends a human child, Maggie, in Vienna. Dragons weren’t always confined to the city, and when Grisha and Maggie go digging into the past, they discover that there used to be many more dragons–and something terrible may have happened to them, something that no one in Vienna remembers.

There are good and bad things about this book, and I
...more
Anna
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an adorable middle grade book and I might have teared up just a bit finishing it...
Grisha, a dragon with a strange and lonely past, finds himself in Vienna with the rest of the dragons who have left the forest. Maggie is a precocious, but lonely, little girl being raised by her poet father and the city of Vienna. Together, they discover both the beauties and dangers of magic and how they can use it to make the world a better place.
This book was so cute. Grisha and Maggie (and other suppo
...more
Jessica F
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A heartfelt and charmingly written/illustrated alternate history/fantasy. The story starts slowly (what do you expect, the poor dragon Grisha spends more than a hundred years transformed as a teapot)! Grisha hears about the end of magic and the problems of man, including both world wars, from his perch on the fireplace. When he is finally freed, he heads to Vienna to be with the last of his kin.

Things change when Maggie, a young motherless and somewhat strange girl, finds her first friend in Gri
...more
Lydia
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mature children who like fantasy and can handle loss
The first third of the book was not really doing it for me. It was slow to the point of almost being boring. I think some editing could have been used there because some of the descriptions of scenes went on too long, for my tastes at least.

The second third picked up for me and I got really into the story. There was intrigue and a quest. The scope of the magical world was widened and the relationship between Maggie and the dragon Grisha was more defined. They also tackled some real issues like
...more
Lynn
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stately in pace with lovely melancholy prose, this is a book to be savored slowly. Weyr tale has a traditional fairy-tale style and touches on large themes such as honor and sacrifice, power and its use and friendship. Contemporary issues appear as well and feel deeply integrated to the story. Is magic still in the world and what does it take for us to see it? What has technology and the pace of our lives done to us? Why do we hide or not see the things that make us uncomfortable?

Written in an a
...more
Hailey
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was definitely not what I expected, and that's not a bad thing! I was expecting a classic fantasy adventure with dragons. Instead, I got a quiet story about a dragon and a young girl and their friendship. I think this book tackles a subject through allegory that is not often talked about when discussing the aftermath of WWII, and that is the conscious effort to forget the atrocities of the war to cope with trauma. It also discusses how forgetting, while useful as a coping mechanism, do ...more
Ariel
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, mg
A truly wonderful fantasy, destined to be a classic, about a dragon and a girl, and several magical cats. If you had to give up the thing you loved most in order to work a magic spell and right a terrible wrong, what would it be? And how would you live without it?
Mary
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: boy-i-cry
I don't know if I'm just in a season of my life where I feel emotions more, or if children's literature is recently tending towards bittersweet endings, but why does everything I read make me cry these days!!! ...more
Sonja P.
The Language of Spells was a a sweet middle grade book I picked up on a whim because I love dragons, and magic, and books with black and white illustrations. This book was full of magic, and was bittersweet for sure.
Adira
Jan 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5

I loved it! Dragons, rude enchanted human-cats, potions, and themes of deeper meaning mixed with the awesome magic, what could you not like?
I felt with the characters, both human and not throughout the entire story. The only thing I would have added was more pages!

Oh, and while I was still reading this I read and finished The Six Of Crows, in which there are people called Grisha (it's a title kind of like wizard). Grisha is also the nickname of our main dragon, short for Benevolentia Gaudium
...more
Jenny
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2018
I enjoyed this quite a bit. Girl and dragon become best friends, definitely one of my favorite things. I did think it ended a little abruptly but other than that, I really liked it.
Beth
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a lovely story, about love and loss, friendship and gifts, dragons and magic. Would be a great read-aloud book for classrooms!
Leilani
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book was truly amazing and I am so happy I got to read it with heartbreak and adventure I hope you enjoy it too💜
Amber K.
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised by how much I loved this middle grade novel! It’s about a dragon named Grisha that leads quite the extraordinary life and a girl that can see dragons (not everyone can). I know several fantasy fans that are going to eat this up. Definitely give this one to fans of Harry Potter.
Carolyn Klassen
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. A fun book with a bittersweet ending. Took 100 pages for the MC pair to meet and many more til they actually got their quest. So sort of funny pacing.
Jordan
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This was so sweet and so beautiful, but also completely heartbreaking. Full review to come.
Kimberly
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a lovely little story with many quotable moments. Maggie is an old soul; wise beyond her years.
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The Bee's Bookshelf: The Language of Spells Discussion 15 14 Dec 03, 2018 12:58PM  

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Garret Freymann-Weyr (rhymes with 'I'm on fire") is a novelist and teacher whose seven books have been banned, translated into a multitude of languages, and included in college curricula. She is a Printz honor award recipient and her short stories have been published in the Greensboro Review, the now sadly missed Christopher Street, and the anthology Starry Eyed. Her next book will be published un ...more

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