Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust is a dark fairy tale based on Persian mythology, with lots of twists and turns and an LGBT romance!
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for sending me an Advanced Review Copy of Girl, Serpent, Thorn in return for an honest review.
Soraya is princess in the royal family and was cursed as a baby. Her touch is poison and anyone (or anything) is killed slowly and painfully by her hand. She is careful to avoid touching even insects as she hates the thought of hurting anyone. She has been kept hidden away for her whole life, staying in her castle year round while her family travel to separate palaces each season. Her family have now returned, and also brought a demon back who is currently in the dungeon.
I really loved Girl, Serpent, Thorn! It is beautifully written with a great story, and a lovely romance too. I felt like Girl, Serpent, Thorn has elements of Rapunzel as well as Sleeping Beauty, but while it felt inspired by other fairy stories, to me it was definitely its own entity. The Author’s Note says that this was inspired by Persian mythology which is something I know nothing about but it has made me want to learn more. It was such a gripping and refreshing read!
The romance in this story was beautifully written. It was so sweet and touching, and just felt so natural. It was completely believable. I also really loved that there was an LGBT romance too!
The characters themselves are also brilliant and well-rounded. I even found myself feeling such sympathy and care for the ‘bad’ characters in the story, which I think is so hard to do. I liked it was so multi-faceted! Soraya herself is a really interesting character. I really like having grey morality from protagonists, it makes them so much more engaging and interesting (and relatable!). There is a lot of themes around her finding her voice and working out what she wants from her life.
The story had so many twists and turns! I was gripped throughout the story and the way it ended was definitely not what I expected! Just as you think ‘oh, that’s that then’, suddenly new events are thrown in motion. In parts I was so angry for Soraya and in others I was so pleased for her. This is a beautiful book about the consequences of our actions and what makes a monster. If you enjoy reading twisted fairy tales then I definitely recommend this one — and I will certainly be checking out Melissa’s other book, Girls Made of Snow and Glass.
The blurb for 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,
About the author, Melissa Bashardoust
Melissa Bashardoust (pronounced BASH-ar-doost) received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairy tales and their retellings. She currently lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is her first novel.