Today is my spot on the blog tour for Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust. This tour is being hosted by Flatiron Books. Thank you for stopping by!
“Every passage is a fine cut gem… A stunningly crafted fairytale.” –Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints
“An enthralling tale of family, monsters, and the things we do for love.” –S.A. Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass
In this richly imagined fairytale, Bashardoust puts a modern spin on the Shahnameh, a Persian epic with parallels to “Rapunzel,” and draws inspiration from other classic stories like “Sleeping Beauty” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” The result is a captivating coming-of- age novel filled with princesses, demons, and fairies—a tale that is at once thrillingly fantastical and deeply human.
In the vast kingdom of Atashar, a young princess lives a hidden life. Cursed from birth with a deadly touch, 18-year- old Soraya finds herself forever confined to her chambers, shrouded from the eyes of the public and forced to keep her distance from friends and family alike. Her sole comfort is her private garden of roses and thorns, the only living things that don’t wither at her touch. But with each passing year, Soraya has grown more isolated and increasingly tormented by dreams of the Shahmar, a young man whose anger and dark desires twisted him into a demon…and with poison, loneliness, and resentment flowing through her veins, Soraya worries that perhaps she, too, is more monster than princess.
As Atashar prepares for the wedding of her twin brother, Sorush—the heir to the family throne and the sun to her shade—Soraya is presented with an opportunity to speak with a captured div, one of the demons who may hold the secret to breaking her curse. The div, Parvaneh, is not at all what Soraya expects: Beautiful, mysterious, and intriguing, Parvaneh seems more than willing to aid Soraya in her quest…for a price. Now, after a life lived in the shadows, Soraya must decide whether she’s finally ready to step into the light and determine her own destiny. Together with the dashing soldier, Azad—the only person, besides Parvaneh, who isn’t afraid to stand too close to her—Soraya sets off on a journey that will force her to confront her greatest powers, her deepest desires, and her most frightening vulnerabilities.
With exhilarating narrative turns and an unforgettable heroine at its center, GIRL, SERPENT, THORN is a brilliantly told story of family, self-discovery, and love in all its forms.
I really enjoyed this book and it was even better after reading the author’s notes on the myths and legends that influenced this story. Definitely make sure you read it.
Soraya is the twin sister of the Shah. But Soraya is hidden away while her mother and brother are public faces. Soryaya hasn’t been away from her home. Not many people even know what she looks like. Soraya is hidden for a reason though. She’s poisonous. There was a curse placed on her. According to her mother, the curse was actually for her. Her first born daughter would be born poisonous and deadly. Within days, Soraya had killed the person who touched her. She also has green veins that get darker when she’s angry. Soraya wears gloves, but her mom still doesn’t touch her. No one does. She’s lived her whole life without the touch and comfort that humans crave.
A div has been captured and is being held in he dungeon. A new soldier, Azad, helped capture her. Soraya believes that the div may be able to tell her how to break her curse. Azad meets up with Soraya and isn’t afraid of her. He tells her the story about how he heard of her. She was his favorite story and he’s been a bit obsessed with her since. He touches her through her gloves. After no contact or attention, Soraya is drawn to this man. He agrees to help break her curse.
Parvaneh is the div being held in the dungeon. She explains to Soraya that there are different types of divs. She is a parik which is the type of div that looks most human. Divs lie and manipulate, but there is something about Parvaneh that makes Soraya visit her many times. Parvaneh tells Soraya that her mother has been lying to her. She tells her to ask for the truth. There is another thing Parvaneh asks Soraya for and then she said she will tell Soraya how to break her curse. Parvaneh needs Soraya to bring her the feather of the simorgh. Soraya doesn’t know where it is, but she knows someone who might. She asks Azad to help her and they sneak out to the dakmeh, a place of death. Soraya is told that to get the feather, she must put her family at risk. She has to decide if that’s something she can do. Can she turn against the family who has always kept their distance to save herself?
Soraya battles with herself throughout the whole book. She feels like a monster. She is deadly, but also kind. She wants touch and love more than anything, but can she really be happy knowing she killed her brother by taking the feather that protects him? Soraya has had dreams about a div, Shahmar, her whole life. He has a reptilian face and she is terrified of him. But Shahmar is a legend. He was defeated by Soraya’s ancestors and removed from his throne. When Soraya comes face to face with Shahmar, she finds out that he’s even deadlier than she thought.
I’m going to leave things a bit vague so I don’t ruin the story. Even though I knew early on what would happen, I still enjoyed seeing how everything would play out. The pacing of the book was good, but I found it better in the first half than the second.
I gave this book 4 stars. Thank you to the publisher for sending me an earc for review.
Warnings for captivity, death, betrayal, and blood.
Melissa Bashardoust received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairytales and their retellings. She lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Melissa is also the author of Girls Made of Snow and Glass.