Girl, Serpent, Thorn, Melissa Bashardoust – Book Review

Hello Humans! Today I’m getting into a fairytale, but this time it isn’t a retelling – this book has been described as an ‘original fairytale’ and you all know that is one of my absolute favourite things to read.

Let’s see how Girl, Serpent, Thorn went?

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Goodreads Summary:

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.

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At first, I was a little wary of this book, surely the ‘girl with poisonous skin who cannot be touched and is kept hidden away in the palace’ had been done to death by this point? We’d had The SinEater’s Daughter, there was also A Touch of Gold and probably a few more I have yet to encounter. So what would set this book apart from the ‘don’t touch me unless you are a hot boy’ genre?

Well, read only the beginning of this book and you might think very little, while Soraya is a solid main character, she does have that ‘sheltered YA heroine’ thing of falling for the first person who isn’t actively horrible to her and the story kind of goes on from there. I was worried I was just reading something awfully generic.

And then things…changed.

I don’t want to get into the specifics of what happens in this story but I will say that this book definitely surprised me. What could have been an utterly generic story becomes something much richer, with more meat on its bones than I might have initially suspected?

One of the things I loved about this book was the way that different settings were described, from lavish palaces to woodland to underground creepier locations – everything felt incredibly vivid. I love a book where I feel I could step into the setting and know my way around. The writing is lovely and I loved that Bashardoust intentionally draws on her Persian heritage for inspiration – something that I didn’t notice in Girls Made of Snow and Glass – though that is due for a re-read.

I also thought that the way that the characters grew and changed through the book was very well handled. Soraya herself goes through a fair bit of self-discovery in this story and what I liked was that it really didn’t feel like she just had one epiphany and then she was fine. The healing that Soraya does is multifaceted and takes place over the course of the book. Add into that some of the things Bashardoust does with some of the relationships that in another story might be tropey and you have something very interesting indeed.

The main plotline is solid, it’s not doing anything particularly new, although I suppose that’s kind of in the vein of fairytales? I think if you’re desperately seeking some YA fantasy with some ‘women loving women’ representation this would be a book I would point out, but I wouldn’t necessarily give it to someone who was very burned out on YA, or who didn’t like YA at all – but that’s not too odd I suppose.

This story did kind of lose me towards the end, things got a little bit convoluted and felt just the tiniest bit rushed which did lose me just a tad. That being said, I was in a run of books disappointing me when I got to the end so it’s possible I might have ranked this book a little higher were I reading it another time – I’ll have to do a re-read to find out!

My rating: 3/5 stars (though thinking about it now probably a 3.5)

I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley – all opinions are my own.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is out July 7th (at the time of writing)

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

What say you? Will you be picking this up – let me know in the comments below!

J

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