Wednesday 22 April 2020

Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Goodreads | Amazon UK | Book Depository

Girl, Serpent, ThornThere 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 refreshing story rooted in Persian culture and sprinkled with magic. It is effortlessly written and throws the reader into a dark fairytale of a hero struggling with what it means to hold a deadly power.

We follow Princess Soraya who has been cursed with the ability to poison every living creature she touches. She has been hidden away from the people and spends a great deal of her time in isolation. She is at a constant struggle with her deadly power knowing that she could take life with a simple touch and longs to be normal. Soraya is uncertain of what life holds for her until a mysterious guard named Azad begins to show interest in her and convinces her that he does not fear her. The story that follows is a tangled web of plot twists and dangerous encounters, which allows Soraya to learn more about both the curse and herself. Other magical elements of the story include 'divs' which are demons from Persian-mythology that add an interesting element to this world.

I did not anticipate the twists and surprise bombs that this threw at me. At one point I thought I had the story sussed out and then it took an even darker turn. I enjoyed Soraya's character and her development over the book to explore whether her power predetermined her for evil. She was unpredictable and there were moments when I thought she may turn into the villain of the story. Another factor I found refreshing was that the story did not have a heavy focus on the romance plot, as a whole it felt more like a journey of character growth and self-realization. However, I adored the unexpected f/f love interest that Soraya found in the dangerous, badass div Parvenah. A div on a mission to right her past wrongs. I loved Parvenah and Soraya scenes together they were pure magic. Their story flowed nicely alongside the broader plot of the novel and added a soft layer to the darkness of the story.

Overall, I would recommend Girl, Serpent, Thorn to lovers of fantasy who are hungry for something slightly different. This Persian-inspired world of magic and demons is a great standalone to sink your teeth into with a truly original story.

3.5 Falling Books

Thank you Hodder & Stoughton for providing an ARC for review on Netgalley.