Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Published By: Hodder & Stoughton
Released: 7th July 2020
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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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.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a book that I have been intrigued by since hearing about it and after having my friends Emily (A Short Book Lover) and Eleanor (Cosy Book Corner) rave about it, I knew I had to get on it and finally read it, and well let me tell you I wasn’t disappointed!
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a book that is rich in Persian mythology and culture, and this is something I had no prior knowledge of, before reading the book. We follow Soraya, a princess who has been cursed since she was born. Soraya is poisonous and anyone who touches her dies. Seeking answers to how she can be free of this curse, Soraya seeks out a demon who holds the answers, whilst also gaining the attention of a young soldier who doesn’t seem to be afraid of her. However, when her choices lead to devastating outcomes, she must learn who she is, a princess or a monster.
My first thought of Girl, Serpent, Thorn was WOW! From the prologue, it had my attention and I was immediately captivated by this unique, magical world rich in Persian mythology and fairytale. As someone who loves a good fairytale, I was in my element and just wanted to keep reading, which is how I finished it in only a few days. It is truly stunning and honestly one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read it a good while.
Plot-wise, I can’t fault it. Everything moved at the right pace and I found myself becoming highly invested in the story. There were twists and turns in every chapter and there were times when I found myself gasping in what could only be described as a major shock. Girl, Serpent, Thorn isn’t afraid to leave you stunned and this can be seen as the main reason I couldn’t stop reading. As this is a standalone fantasy (which is very rare to see!) you don’t get much in the way of world-building, but that is more than made up for with the exciting narrative and character development that starts from the very beginning. Come to the end I did find myself wanting more, but I’ll admit that the ending does tie everything up neatly and I finished the book feeling very satisfied.
Soraya..what a character! I was drawn to her from the moment she was introduced. She was strong-willed and feisty, which all in all made her a very powerful female protagonist. I must admit I did find myself wanting her to keep her poison, as not only did it make her stand out but it made her one of the most distinctive characters in YA Fantasy today. Her inner struggles throughout the book made her seem all that more realistic, as we all go through that at some point, don’t we? That being said, I was more than happy with the choices she made and come to the end she was a powerful, confident character. If you want to see an example of amazing character development, then look no further than Soraya.
I’m going to mention the romance within Girl, Serpent, Thorn ever so slightly as I don’t want to spoil anything for any of you wanting to read this. I went into it knowing it was going to be sapphic and it was wonderful. Melissa handled Soraya’s sexuality with care and sensitivity, and even though it wasn’t outrightly discussed it was portrayed with all due honesty, and I admire that.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn was an incredible read and is a contender for my best book of 2020. For a standalone fantasy, it exceeded all my expectations and I am excited to read more work by Melissa Bashardoust very soon.