Today I am reviewing Girl, Serpent, Thorn, a fantastic Persian fairy-tale inspired book by Melissa Bashardoust. Many thanks to Melissa, and to Hodder & Stoughton, for my copy of the book which I received via NetGalley.
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 captivated me from the first page to the last. Before I started reading, I hadn’t realised that it was inspired by Persian myth, but Melissa Bashardoust’s writing has a magical feel that instantly put me in mind of folkloric tales handed down over many generations.
As a tactile person living through lockdown, I can understand Soraya’s need for human contact and the feel of soft textures more acutely than I think I would have before. Touch is something that we have always taken for granted, and yet it is something I have found myself craving over recent months. At least we have the hope that the situation won’t be permanent, but for poor Soraya there is no way out that she can see, and I can quite understand why she would be desperate enough to try whatever it took to break free of her curse.
Each character is beautifully developed, and each has their own flaws and secrets (some more than others). I practically felt my heart crack at times, as the depths of betrayals were revealed and Soraya slowly learnt who she could and couldn’t trust and rely on.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a story of learning to be comfortable in your own skin – something I think we could probably all do with being a bit better at.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melissa Bashardoust 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.