Cover Image: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn

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Member Reviews

Initial Thoughts

I saw physical ARCs of this book floating around at YALLFEST last year and I was trying to grab one. I was not lucky that day but I actually won a contest online for which the prize was an e-ARC of this book. As much as I love a physical book, an e-ARC on NetGalley was actually better.

Some Things I Liked

Persian mythology and inspiration. This was a unique element that really haven’t seen in many, if any, books.
Morally grey main character. Soraya was morally grey at the absolute best. She was actually kind of a bad person at times. I thought she had great character growth throughout the story.
Plot twists. The twists and deception in this story were insane! I really didn’t see some of them coming. I loved that this story kept me on my toes and I never really knew who to trust.
Beauty and the Beast elements. This is by no means a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but I really liked that elements of that story were woven into this one.

One Thing I Wasn’t Crazy About

The story was not paced very well. It was very slow in the beginning and took me a while to get into it. Then, the ending felt rushed. I thought the pace could have been better.

Series Value

This book felt like a standalone. However, I liked the world Melissa Bashardoust created. I’d like to revisit it in the form of spin-offs.

Final Thoughts

I liked this book. I’m glad I was able to get my hands on an ARC. I’m not sure if I would have picked it up on my own if I hadn’t won the ARC because the synopsis didn’t grab me right away. This story had a lot of character growth and some really interesting morally grey characters.


Recommendations for Further Reading

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – if you enjoyed the Beauty and the Beast elements as well as the morally grey characters and secrets, try this series.
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – if you liked the mythological elements as well as the idea of demons, check out this duology by Elizabeth Lim.
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Soraya discovers who she is and who she can be as she tries to save her family and her people. Read it for the fantasy and folklore qualities, the adventure, and the romance. Enjoy it for the strong female characters, the diversity, the challenging concepts of good and evil, right and wrong.
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Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a story about isolation, deprivation, and the things that happen when desperation finally boils over. The mythology that inspired this book made the story so beautiful and colorful that I couldn’t put it down. The characters were so full and rich in personality along with individuality. Bashardoust has a real talent for creating characters that truly feel like real people. I have never rooted for a character the way I did for Soraya all throughout both of her journeys, the one of self discovery and the one to save the people she loves. 
	This book hit a lot of the right spots for me. First, the world was immaculately built. I loved the culture that we got to learn about through Soraya’s eyes. At every turn there were beautiful flowers and lush cultural events. It was also extremely interesting viewing the world through Soraya because everything she saw was laced with a sense of longing stemming from not being able to experience the things first hand. I don’t even know how to describe the feelings that Soraya made me feel throughout this book just purely based on the way she was forced to grow up. 
The main Antagonist gave me a lot of Darkling vibes in the way that he definitely thought he was the hero of his own story. That particular type of villain is my absolute favorite. The aspect of the villain doing bad things because he thinks they are the right thing to do or because he thinks it's what another character wants him to do makes me connect the villain to whatever humanity they are craving. The dynamic between Soraya and the antagonist was extremely heartbreaking for me for a lot of reasons. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that made me feel so mixed up about not liking the antagonist. Like it was actually really hard for me unless he was explicitly doing something bad. I’ll say again. This book was a masterpiece.
I would have liked to have more scenes between Soraya and Parvaneh in the book. I feel like the romance was a little overhyped on Twitter only because there wasn’t as much of it as I expected in the book. But I lived for the few scenes that we did get. I loved their alliance and all the things that came after it. So many of the scenes were simple, but so beautiful because of the things Soraya is overcoming and discovering about herself. 
Please read this book. It is so gorgeously written and full of fresh lore. The Author’s Note at the end of the book gives you an inside look at the mythology that inspired the book and I loved reading. I loved getting to know about the culture that this book took place in. This one got five stars from me and I hope you will love it too!
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Highly imaginative and thoroughly unpredictable, I didn’t know what to expect from one minute to the next in this story. It took me a bit to get into the story, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. I think my favorite part was the personal growth by protagonist Soraya. She goes from seeing herself as a victim to realizing her power.
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4.5/5 stars

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a f/f fantasy inspired by Persian mythology about Soraya who's poisonous touch can kill anyone. I started the book feeling like I needed to protect this soft girl, even though she can literally kill with her touch, but by the end I was so proud and absolutely in awe of what she had become. The character arc was A+ and I’m going to take this moment to applaud the author at how intricately and beautifully she created Soraya’s character. I was utterly fascinated by Parvareh, the demon girl with moth wings! She has an aura of mystery around her and I honestly never had any idea whether she would show us her vulnerable and hurt side or the sassy and taunting demon side – she’s a whirlpool. And I love how she’s a morally grey character who absolutely owns it. The plot was absolutely fantastic and took me by surprise multiple times! 
All in all, it was an absolute pleasure to read Girl, Serpent, Thorn and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a bewitching fantasy read.
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1/5 stars 
“Girl, Serpent, Thorne” is a young adult fantasy based off Persian mythology about a princess who’s touch has been poisonous since birth. Soraya has heard a fairytale told by her mother from a young age about a girl who was cursed by a div for the touch of her first born daughter to be poisonous for the rest of her life. That fairytale is the story of Soraya’s life and is the reason why she is locked up in the palace away from the public eye. Soraya is sick and tired of being hidden away and wishes to be free from the curse. When she learns about a div being imprisoned in the palace and meets a guard who seems captivated by her and is willing to help her at all costs she believes that together they can break the curse.

This book had so much potential. The concept seemed phenomenal for a fantasy novel and I really expected more. There was probably in total 20 pages where I wasn’t bored with this book. Even when events took place in the book the way in which it was depicted felt like if nothing was happening. I struggled throughout this entire book. When I thought things were getting exciting five pages later it went back to a very slow moving novel. The author would give us bursts of fun/excitement and then take it away as soon as it was given. I felt myself just wanting this book to be over. 

The book had a very slow start where all we had were pages and pages of the main character, Soraya, moping about the life that she has been handed with the curse. I really disliked the main character she spent the whole book feeling sorry for herself, but never truly wanting to change it. She very much had a damsel in distress complex. She always needed help from either the div, her mother, her brother, or the guard. She was very naive and for some reason took everything someone said as fact. She never questioned anyone or their intentions until it was brought to her attention by someone else. I didn’t feel as if her “growth” was truly shown in the novel. I felt it was rushed so the plot could reach its conclusion. 

The main romance in this book was so out of nowhere. Halfway through the book I thought people mistakenly labeled this book as sapphic since there was a male/female relationship up until that point. But no the author throws in a sapphic romance with the main character, Soraya, and the div, Parvaneh. If the romance was fleshed out and there was yearning I would be 100% for it, but there was none of that. I don’t get the purpose of promoting your book as sapphic if the relationship that took over the whole story in reality was male/female. 

The main villain in this story was the guard, Avid, which I predicted from the start. It was supposed to be this big reveal, but Avid showed a lot of similarities to Hans from Frozen. He was very eager to help Soraya and she never questioned it. He was always willing to help her even with things that didn’t involve him in any way and any reasonable person would be at least a little hesitant. Soraya didn’t see that though and was very shocked when she realized he was the villain. 

This book was just not for me. It had so many plot holes. It contained so many plot holes and decisions by characters that didn’t make any sense. By the end of the book I didn’t care what happened to any of the characters. It had a romance that felt forced and very rushed. And an ending where everyone lived happily ever after. Hooray! I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone and I fought myself to finish it instead of dnf’ing it. 

-This book was sent to me for review through netgalley-
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Firstly, I need to mention this cover.  Is this not one of the most beautiful covers ever?  I absolutely love it!

Soraya has lived with the knowledge she is poisonous all her life.  Her mother was cursed by a Div years before she was born, dooming her first born daughter to the fate.  Even the lightest touch of her skin, by any living being, spells death.  When a Div is captured and imprisoned in the dungeons, she is willing to risk whatever she must, to ask the demon if they know of a cure.

Together with a boy who doesn’t shy away from the poisonous green veins under her skin, Soraya sets out to undo the curse.  However, things are not as simple as they seems and more than one person is keeping her in the dark with important secrets.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a Persian inspired fantasy, beautifully written and with a clever meeting of both ancient folklore and fairytale vibes.  Soraya’s inner struggles with her curse, and outer struggles with her brother’s seemingly much easier life, lent a more modern feel to the medieval tone of the story.  What started as a fairly straight forward tale that seemed to be going to follow a well worn path, turned into something quite different about half way through. This is one of those reviews where I really don’t want to say too much, because I didn’t see the many twists coming and enjoyed every one of them, and I’d like to let other readers do the same!
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What a great, quick read! I gobbled it down in two days. I think one sign of a book with excellent world-building is that feeling of disappointment when it’s over that you’re not in that world anymore. That is definitely how I felt after finishing this!

Soraya is a cursed ruling lady, and a lonely member of a royal family. This is the story of her journey to lift the curse, intertwined with the stories of several creatures who are all (one way or another) looking for redemption and reckoning with their pasts. 

I loved the inclusion of Persian lore- a very unique book, highly recommend! 

Thank you to Net Galley and Flatiron books for the copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Love, love, loved this book! I thought it was a fantastic read, and I'd highly recommend it. I really liked the romance and adventure involved in the story.
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I love literary books and this one was beautiful, dark, and suspenseful. GIRL SERPENT THORN read like a wholly original feminist fairy tale.
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I started this one excited to read another fantasy with Arabian inspiration, especially since that cover is SO gorgeous, but the beginning felt very YA and predictable for a while... until the twist came. I went from kind of bored to rapt and excited as things turned in a different direction and a lot of things started happening. The villian seemed so well done and there was potential for an amazing redemption, perhaps through a romance, but then things turned around again and didn't go as I wished and I ended up finishing it feeling meh. It was still good, but the missed villain redemption opportunity there kind of bummed me out.
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I've seen this book floating around the book community and when I saw that it was available for request on Netgalley, I was really excited. When I was approved I got even more excited and immediately started reading. I was immediately pulled into the book and finished it in two sittings. 

Our main character is Soraya the princess that has been hidden due to the royal family not wanting the country to know that she is cursed, her curse being that she poisons every living thing she touches. Due to this Soraya has grown up isolated from any sort of human interaction. As she goes through this journey of trying to get rid of her curse, I couldn't help but empathize with how hard of a life Soraya has lived. All of her thoughts and choices are understandable even if they aren't necessarily the right choice. As the book progresses I kept rooting for Soraya because I knew eventually there would be a happy ending. Also let me just say the romance in this book is impeccable, chef's kiss.

I really enjoyed Bashardoust's writing. I think it was really pretty but still easy to read and follow along with. The pacing was good and I never felt like there was any drag in the story. I definitely want to read more of Bashardoust's writing. 

The story is so adorable. It's kind of predictable but still enjoyable. There is a very clear path that the characters with one or two twists thrown in there to keep things interesting. Soraya's journey was so lovely to read about and I enjoyed every minute of it. I really loved the romance and I think it suited the book's vibes perfectly. 

This is an adorable sapphic fantasy romance and I want more books like this. I want to be able to read about queer characters that have happy endings and live together in peace. I definitely recommend this if you're looking for a soft, wlw romance with touches of fantasy. This isn't a complicated book and has a light atmosphere that leaves you feeling happy and satisfied.
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This was 100% a cover read and I’m so glad I picked it up. Thank you NetGalley for the eARC. 
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is inspired by Persian Mythology and is a retelling, although I was not familiar with the original tale. In this book we follow Soraya, who has been hidden away from her family and kingdom, as her touch is poisonous. As her twin brother, the Shah’s, wedding day approaches and a young soldier catches her eye she begins to realize how isolated she truly is and just how desperate she is to break the curse.

While, I saw a few of the twists coming, I still really enjoyed this book. Soraya is an interesting, flawed protagonist. She doesn’t always make the right choices, she’s angry and impulsive, but courageous and loving. I loved that Melissa Bashardoust showed both sides of her and even her mother. I loved the tension between them and it felt very realistic, while still being a fantasy, to growing up. It’s about learning from your mistakes, taking responsibility for your actions and discovering your own strengths. Also, did I mention Soraya happens to be bisexual and has two great love interests in this book?! Overall I definitely recommend picking this one up.
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I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

I was lucky enough to receive both an eARC of this gorgeous book on Netgalley, and a physical ARC from a giveaway win, and can’t help but kick myself for not reading it sooner! I’m honestly not even sure what made me hesitate to pick it up. Gorgeous cover? Check. Unique and intriguing synopsis? Check. Good reviews from friends? Check. Sigh, make better choices, Erin.

Now that I have read this stunning book, I can tell all of you TO READ THIS BOOK! It was well paced, with incredible character development and was set in a rich world that I’m dying to learn more about. Plus, it is a standalone and my FairyLoot exclusive edition is only 311 pages, making it a quick and satisfying read.

The romance was a delicious sort of enemies, to tentative allies, to lovers plot line that not only had me swooning, but added to the plot instead of serving no real purpose like some romance in YA.

There were two things that really set this book apart for me, however. The villain was incredibly developed. His tale is told at the beginning of the book as a myth, and as the plot develops, so does he. Although he was the villain and I definitely wanted him to meet his untimely end, I wanted to learn more about him and kind of wish I had a book about his descent into villainy.

The other thing that I absolutely adored was Soraya’s constant struggle. She walked a constant tightrope between remaining the hero of her story and becoming the villain. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t always sure which way she would fall and that kept the book interesting. It also made her a more realistic character in my opinion.
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I gave this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars, I thought it was very lovely and I think the author adequately explored the themes she introduced, but the slow pacing was a notable negative for me. Thank you for the ARC!
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I received this ARC from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book is a Sleeping Beauty with the concept of a poisonous girl in a garden from “Rappaccini’s Daughter” and mythology. When I first picked up Girl Serpent Thorn I wasn’t invested in the characters, even at the end I’m not really caring about picking up the next book. I’m not in love with this in anyway it wasn’t terrible because I read the whole thing. I liked the themes of the book finding your purpose and loving yourself among others. This was also the first book I picked up from this author. Honestly reading this it seemed like every other typical fantasy love triangle story. There’s BI rep in this book the main character Soraya as well as Azad. I like how they discuss not labeling and not but sure of their sexuality, just how it’s pretty much okay not know exactly who you are. There were very few things I liked about this book but it’s for someone out there just not me.
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I should have loved this one. I mean, truly: sapphic monster girlfriends, poison touch, fairytale retellings, and a morally grey MC? Sign me up! 

What ultimately knocked Girl, Serpent, Thorn down from a 4 or 5 star read to a 2 star read is that, for me, there wasn't enough time spent deepening the various relationships in the text so that I felt invested in their progress or dissolution. Similarly, I wanted more from the big plot twists and reveals, the bulk of which I thought were quite predictable. Largely, this just boils down to personal preference. Conceptually, I was 100% on board. In practice, I found certain essential elements lacking.

I really appreciated the Author's Note in the back matter that offered contextualization for the fairytales and language choices in the text. Not to mention the brief bibliography for further reading! Swoon! This will be a title that I end up purchasing for my library's collection because, though I didn't love it on a personal level, I know that teen readers who dig fairytale retellings and stand alone fantasy are going to be all over this. And, again, I emphasize: sapphic monster girlfriends!!! I can already think of several teens to whom I'd recommend this.

All in all, a miss for me, but easily a win for a different reader.
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Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a story just as lush and striking as its stunning cover. A fantasy novel that brings in Persian folklore, Girl, Serpent, Thorn follows the story of Soraya, a girl born into royalty but hidden away due to being cursed with a poisonous touch. Living in her private quarters with only her garden and occasional visit from her mother to curb her loneliness. Soraya’s isolation eventually drives her to seek answers as to her condition when she learns that a div is residing in the palace dungeons.

Soraya’s journey is a compelling one, and her motivations were intriguing to me, seeing how isolation from human, physical contact can shape and change someone. It was interesting to see Soraya struggle emotionally with her condition, as feelings of overwhelming guilt and shame for her poisonous touch abound (ever since she tried to touch a butterfly as a small child only for it to drop dead) yet there are flashes of power and rage within her, times where a small yet determined part of her wishes for others to fear what she can do, to protect herself from those who frighten or intimidate her. It’s a interesting dichotomy that Soraya battles throughout the duration of the novel and makes her character compelling- she’s really neither hero nor villain, but something in between. She makes choices that are morally complex and both “good” and “bad,” yet as a reader my focus was drawn more to her growth as a character rather than judgement on the actions themselves, as they often pushed her to learn more about herself and embrace her powers.

Soraya’s story is also deeply rooted in family, specifically the tale she’s been told her entire life about how and why she’s cursed, and the implicit trust she’s put in her family’s hands her whole life to know how to best “deal” with her condition. Yet the div she meets in the dungeon, Parvaneh, starts to cause cracks in the story that Soraya’s built her life around, and begins trailing verbal breadcrumbs for Soraya to investigate the truth of her power and how it came to be. These little hints were usually dropped at the end of chapters and were just enough information to entice me, as a reader, to keep promising “one more chapter” before putting the book down for the evening. The story will constantly make readers question characters’ motives and who is to be trusted or not.

Overall: It’s challenging to elaborate further on the story without wading into spoilers, however if you’re looking for a unique, dark fairy tale type fantasy novel with a protagonist who walks the line between good and evil, shame and power, I highly recommend Girl, Serpent, Thorn!
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In Melissa Bashardoust's novel we have a princess trapped in a tower (yes, like Rapunzel!) by a curse and the one story she's been told by her mum that imbues her with a purpose she struggles to identify with as her own. The story never shies away from the fact that is a retelling and even has a layer of meta commentary where the Princess, her presumed Prince and her presumed Monster are all narrators weaving their own retelling of an event that shifts perspective of whom is hero and whom is villain. And with each narrator a love story hangs in the balance to reflect the moral of the story.The first half of the novel was typical, depicting the Princess’s dilemma and what the reader would recognize as the familiar progression of your standard Western fairytale set and derived from Persian mythology. However, the second half is where it blooms like a flower⎼(the rose is our Princess Soraya’s signature flower). The reader along with Soraya is challenged by the Monster⎼the outsider that promises there is more to Soraya’s childhood tale and curse⎼to press her mum for the truth of her story. But what is the truth? That the Prince who captured the Monster will always be the hero? That only her mum knows best and her curse is best tempered by Soraya being the polite and quiet princess her family has always wanted her to be?It’s a brilliant story and just as the duality of storytelling exists as a theme so the does the dual paths of our main character, a bisexual princess who struggles to choose between the monstrous destiny of her curse and the presumed goodness of loving a charming and observant Prince that has a gift for the keeping the monsters at bay. The seduction between the Princess Soraya and her two fates is spellbinding. And most enjoyably the book asks the reader to consider that stories decide your fate but you can change your fate if you change your story. It’s a story of a daughter told that she is a monster to her family. It’s the story of a princess told she must avoid becoming the Monster’s bride. It’s the story of a girl who asks how to be free of her curse. Read Girl, Serpent, Thorn to find out which story Soraya chooses. (4/5 stars)
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I heard about this book relatively recently and honestly didn’t think I would get approved for it, so when I got the notification from NetGalley, I was really excited!! I’ve read a lot of contemporaries recently so I was definitely looking forward to jumping right into this dark fairy tell retelling/adaptation.

There is so much to love about this book! I don’t want to give away anything so I’ll explain in as general terms as possible. The romance in this book is not what you’d expect it to be based on the description of the book, and watching it develop was a highlight for me. Also, the plot twist around halfway through the book was so epic that I knew the ending was going to be just as awesome (and it was). I really liked Melissa Bashardoust’s writing, and the plot always kept moving, never getting stuck in description and exposition. She even included information in the back of the book about the stories and characters that this book was based on, which I thought was really cool.

You’re probably wondering why I only gave this book three stars, even with all of this stuff I liked. I honestly can’t really explain it myself. It took me way longer than it should have to finish this book - I just didn’t want to keep reading. I guess I just didn’t feel as invested in the story and the characters as I expected to, or maybe I was more in the mood for a lighter read. I’m not sure. I probably would have enjoyed Girl, Serpent, Thorn more if I’d read it another time.

Of course this is all very subjective, so if anything I said about what I liked about Girl, Serpent, Thorn sounds good to you, definitely check it out!! I do really think it’s well-written and a lot of people are going to love it. Go check it out when it comes out on July 7th : )
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