Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
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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 beautifully unique and whimsical fairy tale based on Persian mythology and I adored it! As soon as I heard about this novel I knew I needed a copy to read as soon as possible and I was not disappointed. This YA story is based around a princess who’s touch is deadly, cursed since birth, Soraya must forgo the touch of any other living creature or become a killer. I haven’t read anything similar to Girl, Serpent, Thorn before so reading about curses, demons and monsters from Persian mythology was absolutely fascinating.
The world building within this novel transported and immersed me within the scenes instantly, I could feel how isolated Soraya was within the walls of her rooms, I could envision the palace and structures of the world, the author has written a spectacular novel and included every small detail to create beautiful images within your imagination. I haven’t read a novel with a similar magical system to GST but it was explained so accurately that I understood every part of it perfectly, I am very impressed with how compact yet detailed this standalone novel is.
Not only does Girl, Serpent, Thorn fit the bill for fairy tales, castles, curses and monsters it also features a LGBTQ+ main character, the f/f romance within this novel is quite slow but enchanting. The scenes featuring the blossoming relationship between Parvaneh and Soraya were most definitely my favourites, although their initial kinship is built out of necessity their ensuing friendship and relationship is strengthened by their unwavering trust in each other, we love monster girls supporting each other!
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is an amazingly atmospheric fantasy world with morally grey characters and a queer romance neatly packed into about three hundred pages, I also loved the added detail within the Authors note where Melissa has included a glossary of the inspirations behind this novel. It is refreshing to read a novel based on a culture and mythology I am unaware of, everyone needs a new fairy tale to fall in love with and I would highly recommend Girl, Serpent, Thorn.
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