A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse...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....
|Title||:||Girl, Serpent, Thorn|
Girl, Serpent, Thorn Reviews
This was so. Good. If you love queer fairytales, especially of the non-Western variety, do not do not do NOT miss this Persian-influenced bisexual one.
NEW ADDITION TO ALL TIME FAVES.
I AM OBSESSED.
WHAT A BOOK.
Soraya is cursed with a deadly touch, where poison flows through her veins and any living thing to come in contact with her dies. Isolated from her family and ruminating in the shadows, she finally decides to take matters into her own hands. Her brother's upcoming wedding to their childhood friend and a div (demon) imprisoned underneath the castle inspire her to make her move, while a
Soraya is cursed with a deadly touch, where poison flows through her veins and any living thing to come in contact with her dies. Isolated from her family and ruminating in the shadows, she finally decides to take matters into her own hands. Her brother's upcoming wedding to their childhood friend and a div (demon) imprisoned underneath the castle inspire her to make her move, while a mysterious boy in the azatan (army/guard) takes an interest in her.
It's very difficult to summarise the basic plot because none of it seems relevant when you reach the middle. The beginning feels like a completely different book to the second half. Which I'm not complaining about. It's like a trilogy condensed into a single book, which is excellent since the plot didn't need to be dragged and the action was plentiful.
Let's start with the diversity because it's what everyone will be curious about: the setting, story/fairytales, and the world are all based on Persian culture, while all the characters are (obviously) Persian. There is Persian dialect - such as royal titles, places, names - used throughout that are explained in detail by the author at the end of the book. In addition, the glossary has explanations for the Persian stories/fairytales they're based on. It's really thorough and interesting, which only adds to the excitement when you read it. The main character, Soraya, is established as bisexual early in the story. When they were children, she and her brother Sorush had a best friend who she had a crush on, but it wasn't reciprocated. Soraya additionally has a brief flirtation with a member of the azatan - who's a male - and it's established she was attracted to him. However, her main romance is with another girl, who I won't disclose because I think it's better to experience yourself instead of knowing who it is prior to starting. Their romance is definitely a subplot and not integral to the overarching plot, but it's an established, developed relationship.
's writing is engaging and enthralling from beginning to end. There wasn't a single moment I was bored or waiting for something to happen, even if the beginning lacks similar action to the last section. As I mentioned, the story twists halfway in a completely unexpected way (for me, at least). I remember reaching the moment, remembering the foreshadowing, and then smacking myself on the forehead because
. Everything is meticulously plotted and you don't notice the intricacies until you're way past those moments.
The worldbuilding was easy to grasp from the beginning, and not too complicated to follow as the story progressed. It's established in an interesting way through the fairytales, but also through the perspective of our main character Soraya. Since it's based on Persian mythology, it's imbued with language and terms from that culture, which isn't a complaint. I really enjoy reading fantasy books set in non-Western settings because you can almost feel the happiness radiating off the page from the author. Also, it's just an educational experience and allows you to learn about the mythology in cultures you're not a part of, while you also enjoy a unique story at the same time.
Soraya is such an interesting, different main character, particularly to the Young Adult genre. In the beginning, she's isolated and lonely because of her poisonous touch. She appears meek and small, always in the shadows watching others. The story isn't exactly about her using the curse to gain power in the court as others have expressed, it focuses more on accepting what you've perceived as flaws and realising they're what makes you unique. Soraya's love interest can't comprehend why she doesn't admire her ability to kill with a touch and wants her to wield it, not cure it. Soraya learns not to feel ashamed of the poison in her veins and accepts that it's a power, not a curse. Moreover, I loved how she went from a lonely, isolated girl desperate for company to someone who makes her own family, relative or not.
My friends were all in shock when I said the f/f relationship took over half of the book to begin developing, and I wasn't complaining. That should indicate how enthralled I was with the plot and story in general. I'm familiar with Bashardoust's writing and anticipated the f/f romance being a subplot, especially with the misleading synopsis and beginning. However, the story definitely focuses more on Soraya's character development and the strife in their world more than romance. That being said, the romance was wonderful. There's a lot of lingering gazes, light touches, and UNBELIEVABLE TENSION (in the beginning of their relationship), where you're desperate for them to be together. I love that despite it developing in the latter part of the plot, we were still given a solid resolution and direction for their relationship in the future.
Something I found particularly engaging about this book was the exploration of what it means to be moral through the main characters. Soraya can kill any living thing with a touch but doesn't wield that power for evil. In fact, she grows roses in her garden because she wants the ability to give something life, instead of taking it away. The symbolism through her roses is additionally brought up again towards the end of the story, proving that every little thing is meticulously plotted and well-thought-out. Though, Soraya definitely isn't a moral character (which I, unfortunately, can't go into detail about because of spoilers). Her love interest also has a dark past she's attempting to atone for (again, more spoilers). Basically, this book has two morally grey women falling for each other, but they aren't clean-cut villains. It feels like, in the background of the main meaning of
, Bashardoust is suggesting not all of us are perfect or moral. We all have our flaws, and we're all capable of doing immoral things.
was a delight to read. That's the only way I can explain it. It was enthralling, fun, romantic, interesting, intricate, and just perfect. I highly recommend reading it when it comes out because this is a YA fantasy you don't want to miss.
Persian inspired setting, story, and full cast of characters, bisexual main character, sapphic side character, f/f romance
I. NEED. IT.
A fairy tale that takes inspiration from ancient Persian/Zoroastrian mythology. A princess is cursed to be poisonous to the touch and explores what inherent power might lie in such a curse. thanks for saving the YA retelling genre Melissa Bashardoust
Bashardoust out here single-handedly revolutionizing fairy tale retellings
Bashardoust out here single-handedly revolutionizing fairy tale retellings 💪
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!)
Superb writing but I just couldn’t get into this one.
Superb writing but I just couldn’t get into this one. 😩
This is easily one of the my top 5 most anticipated books for 2020!!