This is a brilliant Persian Fairytale inspired fantasy full of magic, deception and secrets.
Synopsis: “There was and there was not.” Soraya is cursed, her touch is poisonous and she lives her life in the shadows. She is a princess unable to be with her own family but things are about to change. For the first time in her life she may be able to get the answer she so desperately wants – how to be free. But just how far is she willing to go, and what consequences will arise as a result of her choices? And what truly makes you a monster?
Girl, Serpent, Thorn, by Melissa Bashardoust is a brilliant and imaginative fairytale inspired story with dark and monstrous twists that are captivating and compelling. This book is beautifully written, the prose flows easily and the descriptions are gorgeously crafted. Each of the settings are vivid and come to life due to the immersive imagery and beautiful descriptions, the writing is evocative and emotive creating a strong atmosphere and empathy allowing a strong connection with the characters.
The narrative is strong and intriguing as we read from the perspective Soraya who has spent her life in the shadows due to her curse. Her perspective is interesting because it is limiting but also insightful – she craves human connection but even the slightest touch from her would kill them, she is fully aware of the consequences of her curse but why it was cast upon her is a mystery. Moreover, despite being royalty she doesn’t have much knowledge regarding the monsters that threaten their lands so as she finds out more information more mystery is built up. The limits of her perspective allows this story to be full of tension and mystery, all of which makes you want to keep reading.
Due to the narration we get a lot of insight into Soraya’s thoughts and feelings allowing us to understand her behaviour even when it seems rash or the decision seems poor because to her it is justified. Soraya deals with a lot of internal conflicts over the course of the story from feeling neglected to battling with whether or not she herself is or will be a monster – it ties in nicely with the themes of identity as Soraya is trying to figure out who she truly is as she tries to understand her curse. The realistic struggles of who she truly is combined with the physical struggles of those who begin to oppose her work extraordinarily well together in order to create a deep and dynamic story.
I will admit that initially this story seemed rather formulaic – very much fitting the fairytale narrative – but I was definitely proven wrong. While the story starts with some classic fairytale motifs it takes a drastic and captivating turn that truly turns this story into something much more original and unique. The plot twists and shocking turns in this book really makes it stand out and turns this fairytale into a delightfully monstrous but charming tale with a thrilling dark streak. I loved absolutely every minute of this story and thoroughly enjoyed the plot as Soraya is forced to make more difficult decisions and untrustworthy alliances in order to achieve what she wants most.
The story is very compelling, as it the worldbuilding and magic. The monsters and magic are very intriguing and make for a multi-layered world full of depth. I really loved the exploration of morality through the monsters and Soraya herself as we are challenged to see what truly makes someone a monster.
The characters in this story are brilliant, they are realistic because they have flaws, their desperation or ambitions actually lead them to make challenging decisions and their relationships are complex. (Representation: Bisexual MC) I loved all the characters in this story, and particularly Soraya’s story arc, but as a whole the entire cast is excellently written, the villains are compelling and cruel, morally grey characters and choices are challenged and the resolutions are unexpectedly satisfying.
The ending of the story was something I particularly loved for many reasons but specifically I like how it rounded off on the theme of self-identity and solved the conflict between human and monster. This story was truly outstanding and memorable, a fantastic read and the Persian Fairytale influences are prominent but unique.
I definitely recommend this to fairytale lovers, fantasy lovers and anyone looking for a thrilling dark fairytale read with excellent characters and an epic story.
*Thanks to #netgalley #Hodder&Stoughton #Flatironbooks for the eARC in exchange for an honest review*