Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust: A Lush Fairytale

GIRL, SERPENT, THORN
by Melissa Bashardoust

Publication date: 7 July 2020 by Hodder & Stoughton
young adult | fantasy

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

SYNOPSIS

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.

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.

REVIEW

I received digital copy review from Hodder & Stoughton via Edelweiss+. This does not affect my review in any way; all opinions are my own.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is one of those books that will leave you craving for something more. This page-turning dark fairytale book will take your breath away on how beautifully written it is. I sound exaggerating but I know everyone who’s anticipating this book won’t be disappointed at all. Melissa  Bashardoust is an excellent storyteller who brings her own fairytale about a cursed princess who’s locked away to hide her identity from the public. This is my kind of story and honestly, I’m so glad how it turned out.

I adore Melissa Bashardoust’s writing—it’s engaging and she’s able to keep the consistency of it. Had I not had other important things to do on the weekend, I would be able to finish this book in one sitting because Girl, Serpent, Thorn is so easy to read—readers have a hard time grasping both the story and the world building.

That being said, I don’t have much problem with Melissa Bashardoust’s writing. For me, a writer who’s able to write lyrical prose without making their readers feel like they’re reading something heavy is a plus point (especially English is not my first language, so sometimes, lyrical prose confuses me a little).

FAST-PACED STORY

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a fast-paced book that doesn’t leave out small, additional details to the worldbuilding or the characters. In my opinion, I feel like devouring a duology instead of a stand-alone while reading Girl, Serpent, Thorn; the first half of the book feels like it can stand on its own, with the second half of the book acting as the finale. Somehow, I feel like the stori

Even though Melissa Bashardoust’s writing is pretty consistent, I can’t say the same with the plot. Once I reached the middle of the book, suddenly everything kinda rushed up to the anticlimax—it feels like I’m climbing a hill and then sliding down at full speed. I think this could’ve been executed better, that’s why I said this feels like reading a duology in one book.

Of course, there is a good thing about the story and if I ignore the inconsistency, I think I would’ve rated it higher. Black and white are not the words I would describe about this book; there are a lot of complexities regarding the story and the way each characters’ behave. I love how the story unfolds; each character’s backstory, the past events that lead up to the current ones, the feeling I got as I watched Soraya survive—it’s so fascinating, and I know many people wouldn’t be able to put this book down.

A CHARACTER-DRIVEN STORY

Girl, Serpent, Thorn focuses on Soraya’s character—her growth, fear and development are well-written throughout the story. Like I said earlier, there’s nothing black and white about Soraya. I don’t think she’s a morally grey character, but I understand why she’s done what she did or that she lets fear control her. Her decision is not simple and this is not about right and wrong; it’s more than that. And that brings me to one of my concerns about this book; that so many people would be annoyed by Soraya. Her actions are based on fear and shame because she is cursed; she believes she is a monstrous character rather than a girl with a deadly power she can hold onto. 

Because of Soraya’s development throughout the book, I can say that Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a book about self-acceptance and battling your own fears. This is a book about loyalty, trust and betrayal. The way Soraya has to deal with everything that’s going on around her and that’s what makes her grow stronger and more confident. Of course, there is regret and what-if—and that’s what Soraya feels mundane. We’ve had enough of perfect characters who can do anything, have we? It’s time we see our favorite characters fail or make mistakes. In conclusion, I love Soraya’s characterization. 

Then, we have Azed and Parvaneh. I admit that they’re not as complex as Soraya, but reading their backstory interests me so much. Like what they always say, there’s a reason behind every action, and reading about Azed’s and Parvaneh’s character kinda boosts up my empathetic’s level. Of course, I’m not justifying their actions but some things they did is understandable.

OVERALL

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is so easy to read and a page turner! So, if you’re looking for a fast-paced, character-driven book with enemies-to-lovers trope, I would 100% recommend it to you! But, consider these followings before you pick this book up:

  • Less interaction in between the main character and love interest. This book focuses on Soraya and her self-acceptance journey, romance isn’t the main focus here
  • Plot rushed up to the anti-climax
  • This book isn’t actually action-packed book

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