GIRL, SERPENT, THORN by Melissa Bashardoust

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.


Title : Girl, Serpent, Thorn
Author : Melissa Bashardoust
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : July 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

What a cover and what a world Melissa Bashardoust created. Based in Persian mythology, tales and beliefs this was an exciting fantasy with some fresh concepts to get your teeth into and a main character who I really liked. This story took me back and forth on whether Soraya was a victim or a villain. I wasn’t 100% sure by the close, but I was grabbed by the journey.

GIRL, SERPENT, THORN tracked royal family dysfunction at its best and I actually enjoyed reading about Soraya’s captivity life, her boundaries, weaknesses and strengths. I utterly disliked every person in her family, including her so called childhood friend. The appearance of a new friend Azad, had me suspicious, but he won me around.

The world had a later complexity but an earlier ease in terms of building the context, belief systems, divs and other beings. I did like the world but found events from half way a little chaotic as the plot moved and waned a little. There was a lot of double crossing and it was like a tennis match at one point, a good way to keep the reader guessing but I could have managed with a little less back and forth.

Soraya’s sexuality deserved more exploration of her feelings and identity on the page. She was a bisexual character but everything about that was vague, she did not once go through any introspection as she kissed a male and then a female in short break between. The development of the f/f relationship was weak and I didn’t feel invested in their connection or anything deeper, again some more page-time would have enhanced my reading experience here.

So overall, this was a strong 4 star read for the first half, then the plot got a little fadey. The setting, the fantasy world, rules and main character were such strengths in this book. The final quarter did pull things back together again for me but just not enough to warrant a 4 star.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.