Having been a huge fan of Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Bashardoust I was absolutely over the moon excited for Girl, Serpent, Thorn. I don’t think I could have expected that I would be able to read Girl, Serpent, Thorn so early, but it was the absolute best surprise. And what a fantastic book.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I fell in love with Girl, Serpent, Thorn from the very beginning. Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a story about possibility, power, and responsibility. It’s a story about stories themselves, the danger and bravery of hope, and the possibility in each word. Soraya tugged at each of my heart strings. Faced with the pain of wanting something we cannot have, Soraya feels the ache and the fleeting whisper of touch. She has imagined dreams that end in isolation.
The world moves without her, leaves their tracks for her to gaze upon behind bars. Her whole life has been shaped by the question of her own monstrosity. With one touch, Soraya can kill instantly. Craving not only touch, but the comfort of a shoulder to lean on, Soraya is convinced of her curse. The curse of her parents which was laid on her shoulders. Focusing on what she is missing, Soraya is unable to see her own power, a weapon hidden in plain sight.
But what begins as a clear desire to be free of her power, turns into something vastly more complicated. Soraya soon finds out that the world she knew, the cage she saw herself in, was never the whole story. Girl, Serpent, Thorn is fantastic on a variety of levels, but one of my favorite is the way it talks about stories. There’s this desire to be seen as the main character, the protagonist in our stories. And why not? We are the ones writing them.
But we are all stories in the making. If we are all stories, then we all have the ability to be in each other’s hopeful dreams or terrible nightmares. As cautionary tales or lessons in courage. We have the ability to shape its ending, to figure out who we want to be after all our mistakes. Under the stories we are told before bed, is there a foundation of truth? A kernel of a lie? Based on whoever is telling the story, it can switch from a cautionary story about power and ambition to one of misunderstandings and revenge.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a character driven story that focuses on Soraya’s character growth. Her fear of herself is not only driven by the fear people feel because of her power, but because of what she could do. What would happen to each of us if we accepted our power, thorns and all? Afraid of becoming something more monstrous, Soraya believes herself already to be something to be feared. In this way, Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a story about self-acceptance. Our struggles to see ourselves for what we are, the thorns and the softness.
Ambition and Choices
At the same time, Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a story about ambition and truth. Ambition can come at a price. It can demand sacrifices we are unwilling to be honest about. What will we do to pursue our own future, to live the way we want? It’s all a balancing game of choices and sacrifice. When the promises of a life we have never had, but have hungered for, is dangled in front of us, what price becomes too high?
Once we have taken that step, it would be easy to let the tide sweep us away. To fall into the current and wake up on the other side. But we cannot allow the warnings of the stories before us to go unheeded. The choices we make to survive the mistakes we uttered in haste. The betrayal we spell in kisses.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is entrancing. Featuring a bisexual princess, a f/f romance, and Persian-inspire fantasy, you can’t go wrong. There is so much nuance to Girl, Serpent, Thorn. Whether it be a story about our choices, self-acceptance, or a story about our quest to fix our mistakes, Girl, Serpent, Thorn is captivating. It will wrap you up and keep you reading and even though I’m writing this in 2019, I’m already looking forward to this book’s release.