Ah, yes, purple prose, the thing everyone loves to hate and ya girl over here is always down for. I don’t know what it is, I just love language that’s stupidly superfluous and totally over the top. I feel like I don’t shout about the books on this list a whole lot, so why not now, right? Let’s get lost in some fluffy words!
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo is honestly just beautiful, and it’s probably going to be the start of me being a broken record with me “well it’s not really purple prose in the true sense of it, it’s just gorgeous,” but bear with me. This book is so pretty in all ways. The dust jacket is raised and made of a different material than normal, the artwork changes with every page, and the stories are just twisting fairytales that make you want to go to bed immediately after. It’s the ultimate in fluff.
Again, less purple prose, more leaning heavily on the wintry vibes. Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw delivers on the spooky, deep winter, forest atmosphere, and I’ve listed it here under purple prose because of the many, many descriptions of moonlight, trees, and cold. It chilled me right down to my bones, and I desperately wanted to be out in the woods under the full moon after finishing. It’s so well written in that magical, vague kind of way, and I just love it.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber and I have a complicated relationship, but I’ll never deny that the writing in this is over the top. The descriptions of the outfits and every inch of every shop alone are ridiculous to the point of eye-rolling, but, like, in a good way? I could picture everything crystal clear because so much time was spent in heaping on layers of purple description.
Okay, I told myself I had to pick ONE Anna-Marie McLemore and not just list all of them, and I think Wild Beauty is the winner. I mean, just that cover alone. When I think of purple prose and magical realism, the first person I think about is McLemore, and she has got both down to a fine art. I know that my head is going to be spinning from all the descriptions and flowery language, and I am ready for it.
I decided to talk about Fierce Like a Firestorm by Lana Popović today instead of the first book in the duology because I feel like I’ve been giving it a lot of attention, and LOOK AT THAT COVER. Lana Popović was truly blessed with the most beautiful covers possible, and if you think the outside is an accurate representation of the inside, that’s the biggest understatement ever. Popović’s flowery language might even give McLemore a run for her money with its dresses, food, and settings.
I love Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene for a lot of reasons, and while I’ve talked about the many, many tropes and clichés it employs, I don’t think I’ve quite touched on the amount of times it discusses, in length, the detail of shadows, the color amber, and the sky. This book is overflowing with plot and sad boys, but, more importantly, it’s going to describe every single shade of the sun-strewn sky for you.
I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to include a Maggie Stiefvater on this list, but honestly, do any of us know what All the Crooked Saints was about? I mean, we do, but do we really? Be honest with yourself. This book is the vaguest one on this list. I know what happened in it, and I understand the basic magical theory behind it, but the language is trippy af, and trying to navigate through this purple prose is a feat in and of itself.
Gosh, I read The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma so long ago! This is another book that’s not necessarily purple prose, if we’re sticking by the strict definition of flowery nonsense, but it is pretty vague, and the way it dances around what’s going on through pretty language means that you don’t see the twist coming until it’s smacking you in the face. I love when books utilize floaty descriptions to make it hard to focus on the chaotic insides.
Talk about superfluous. Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor is totally unnecessary to the rest of the series, but also you will perish without it in your life, so it’s definitely worth the read. It’s literally about a date between Zuzana & Mik, which includes a frozen tea party on a stolen boat, violins and ice globes, and lots of mooning over Mik’s eyes. It’s so ridiculous, and I want to reread it immediately.
Ah, yes, the book I will never, ever forget. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton is one of my favorite young adult books ever, and I think I haven’t reread it because I just want to hold that first read sensation in my heart for as long as possible. It’s so mystical and floaty and just wanders all over the place, and I love it so, so much.