Thank you to Hodderscape for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Book: Girl, Serpent, Thorn
A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.
As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.
Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Year Published: 2020
- Plot: 3.5/5
- Characters: 4/5
- Writing: 4.5/5
- Overall: 4/5
Girl, Serpent Thorn was a novel reminiscent of a fairy tale. Influences from Persian mythology were intricately woven throughout creating a tapestry of deadly beauty with monsters and magic in every thread. One of my favourite parts was actually the author’s note at the end explaining the inspirations behind certain aspects of the book, an important one being an epic poem called The Shahnameh. It is clear that so much thought and love went into creating the world.
Soraya was a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. She had spent her entire life hidden away in the shadows, starved of human contact. Meanwhile, her twin brother was the shah and dwelled in the sunlight and adoration of the people. Soraya felt resentful and crushingly, achingly lonely but she tried not to show it. She thought innocent thoughts and actions were the only thing stopping her from becoming a monster but in her darkest hours she wondered if it would be easier to become the monster others already thought her to be.
I loved Soraya’s journey of self acceptance. This could have easily been a villain origin story but it wasn’t and while there were many moments when Soraya gave into her darker impulses she always brought herself back and rejected monstrosity. Her story showed that protecting someone with lies often isn’t protection at all and when too many secrets accumulate it can be more deadly than poison. Soraya’s relationship with Parvaneh was sweet and hopeful. Their romance wasn’t a major part of the book but the way they saw a beauty in each other that no one else did was heart warming.
In a lot of YA fantasy, the parents are often dead or have no part to play in the story. That wasn’t the case with Girl, Serpent, Thorn. I loved how Soraya’s relationship with her mother was portrayed. Many secrets surfaced between them and their relationship was often messy and strained but there was an overwhelming sense of love, appreciation and respect between them that grew as the story progressed.
The writing was gorgeous and lyrical and completely drew me in. However, I wish the plot was a bit stronger. Some of the events that happened felt too contrived or convenient and some details needed more explanation. However overall Girl, Serpent, Thorn was a magical, Persian-inspired read with a compelling main character and a f/f romance that I would definitely recommend.