A Young Adult fantasy in which the princess could be both the monster and the saviour.
Title: Girl, Serpent, Thorn
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Audience: Young Adult
(Taken from Goodreads)
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 from everyone 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.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is the first Melissa Bashardoust novel that I have read, and I am certainly interested in reading her other book, Girls Made of Snow and Glass. What drew me into Girl, Serpent, Thorn was the Persian mythology, and the sleeping beauty inspiration, as I love a fairytale retelling. Persian mythology was entirely new for me before reading Girl, Serpent, Thorn, and I am interested in learning more. It also helps that at the end of the novel Melissa Bashardoust includes a helpful author note into the influences and inspirations behind the world.
The plot itself is hard to speak about as it is filled with twists and turns from almost page one. But what I will say is that I liked the direction that it took and the progression that is made with both world and character building through the plot. The plot gave room for our main character to grow and become comfortable within her skin.
I felt that our main character Soraya grew throughout the book, to in the end become a likeable character. However, I was screaming in my head at the naivety of her decisions. But Melissa Bashardoust does make you understand where Soraya’s naivety comes from as she was sheltered away from everyone at a young age. It also addresses the emotional and mental effect that her captivity has had on Soraya, and the influences it has had on the decisions she makes in the book. I ultimately wanted to see much more character development and her to become much stronger in herself and the choices that she made. This is also the same for both Paravneh and the main villain; as while we did learn about their backstories and motivation, it felt like something was missing to make them seem believable.
I did love the romantic relationship between Paravneh and Soraya, but much like the character development, I wanted more. I wanted to see many more scenes between them and to see their relationship develop. Their relationship just felt very rushed, and I wanted to see much move development of their feelings and emotions, as well as just more interaction between them.
Overall, I enjoyed my time reading Girl, Serpent, Thorn and would recommend it to any young adult fantasy reader, especially one who loves reading mythology/fairytale based retellings. It gave a twist to a traditional tale, with a princess who is cursed and her saving herself and her kingdom, without the help of a man.
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