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.
“I am both the Sleeping Beauty and the enchanted castle; the princess drowses in the castle of her flesh.”
-Angela Carter, Vampirella
As someone who is new to Melissa Bashardoust’s novels, I can’t really say how this novel compares to her previous one, but what I can say is that Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a delightful breath of fresh air in the YA fantasy genre. I’m always on the search for fairytale retellings that incorporate non-Western stories, and this Persian inspired spin on “the poisonous girl in the garden” was truly incredible.
It’s really hard to touch on the plot, aside from what is shared in the synopsis, because there were many twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting across the length of the book. Let’s just say that secrets abound and characters can’t always be trusted. Your emotions will be tested, not only by the (sort of) love triangle, but by Soraya’s inner battles with the affliction that holds her. I cannot imagine not being able to touch or be touched by another soul, and I was intrigued by the physical and mental consequences that this brought on our main character. I think I’m going to stop here, and leave it up to you to decide if you’d like to read this story for yourself, but I’m really glad to have read this one, and I’m very interested in going back and picking up Girls Made of Snow and Glass while waiting for whatever she decides to write next.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melissa Bashardoust (pronounced BASH-ar-doost) received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairy tales and their retellings. She currently lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Melissa is the author of Girls Made of Snow and Glass and Girl, Serpent, Thorn.