***I received a free e-ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***
Girl, Serpent, Thorn
by Melissa Bashardoust
Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Age Category: Young Adult
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a tale that takes influences from Persian mythology and Zoroastrianism and turns around and provides a fairy tale–like journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, monsters that seem all too human, and even sneaks in an adorable sapphic romance. Bashardoust enthralled me right from the first page, and I didn’t want her to release me upon the end.
Soraya is a princess with poison that runs through her veins (and even turns them green). Locked and kept away from her family, friends, and court, Soraya despises her curse and yearns to be a true member among her family. When Soraya learns of a div (demon) captured and imprisoned in the dungeons, she believes she has finally found a path that will help her lift her curse. But those around her aren’t as they seem, and when Soraya accidentally unleashes destruction upon her kingdom, she must decide what she truly values and seek power in her flaws.
The strength of Girl, Serpent, Thorn comes from its deceit. As the book first unfurls, the tale appears to pass quickly, Soraya finally able to grasp hope in a different future for herself with a handsome guard now by her side. But as the halfway point approaches, twists and monsters are unleashed, completely changing the direction of the plot. The novel doesn’t shy away from the threads of darkness that run through its pages.
Bashardoust’s tale is simultaneously refreshing in its originality and nostalgic in its whimsical and mystical atmosphere. Soraya is also a relatable and realistic protagonist; she desires to be accepted in her community, she lets herself be selfish, and she hates herself for her flaws. Despite the fantastical adorning, the novel’s dilemmas are relatable to all types of readers.
My only complaint is that Girl, Serpent, Thorn gifted us with a world that could have been further explored and a tale that easily could have been expanded upon. But then again, a captivating story always leaves you wanting more, does it not?
I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys YA, fairy tale retellings, and monsters. This book is a shining reminder why fairy tales (and their retellings) never tire, and that there are always new ones to be told.
Trigger Warnings: imprisonment, murder, scarring from torture (torture scenes not actually in the book), battling, strained familial relationships
Rating: 4.5 stars