“Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a tale a rose might tell, lushly perfumed and lined with thorns in all the right places. With complex women, Persian demons, a gorgeously twisting narrative, and the age-old question of what it means to be a monster, it had me eagerly flipping pages until the very end. I only wish there were more!”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust is a lush Persian inspired fantasy and a strong contender for my favourite book of the year.
As twin sister of the Shah, Soraya should have lived a life of luxury and privilege at the heart of her brother’s court, instead she is hidden away deep in the palace, with only her beloved rose garden and her library to comfort her. Cursed at birth with a touch that kills , she has lived a life of isolation, loneliness and absolute self control. Since even an accidental touch could kill, she cannot risk friendship and cannot even dream of romance. When she hears a rumour that a captured demon hidden in the palace dungeon may know how to lift the curse she has carried for so long, she is tempted out of the safety of her gardens for the first time in years, but the conversation she has with the demon raises more questions than it answers, and leaves Soraya conflicted about what to do and who to trust. Eventually she must make a choice, and the consequences will change her world forever.
There were so many things to love about this book, from its powerful characters and beautifully lyrical writing, to its plot that kept me guess and on edge, and even its beautiful and eye catching cover. I was so engrossed by Soraya’s story that I read the book in a single sitting, I was simply unable to put it down. From reading the afterword I understand the author incorporated a lot of folklore into the story, and I loved it, it really made the world the book was set in even more vivid and real, Soraya’s journey over the course of the book was complex, from feeling like a monster rather than a princess to deciding to fight for herself and free herself and then to realising she must deal with the consequences of her actions, no matter how difficult. I also loved the portrayal of the relationship between Soraya and her mother, with all of its secrets on one side, and the longing for love and acceptance on the other. While there is a beautiful f/f romance in the book, it is not the focus of the book and I think the book is all the stronger for that , it really is all about Soraya and her growth.
As I said earlier, the author does include a section about the Persian mythology that inspired the book and the aspects of Zoroastrianism that were incorporated into the story and I found this fascinating, It is clear that this is a book that is close to the author’s heart, a real work of love and I felt that on every page.
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
Added 19th July 2020