Title: Girl, Serpent, Thorn
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, LGBT, Mythology
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: July 7th, 2020
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.
“There was ad there was not, she reminds herself. It’s just a story. The daughter wants to crawl onto her mother’s lap and lay her head against her mother’s chest, but she doesn’t. She never does. it’s not just a story.”
Even though I still had this author’s other book on my TBR, I knew I had to pick up Girl, Serpent, Thorn because it checked so many boxes for me. I love me a good fairytale retelling, plus it was supposed to me a sapphic one, so I had such high expectations when it came to this book. Overall, I think it was a nice story and I enjoyed it, but I had some issues with certain things that made me not love it as much as I anticipated.
I think the plot of the book was so interesting and unique, and it felt like I was reading a fairytale, which was something that I totally appreciated. I also liked the author’s note and how she explained in there a little bit about the mythology and the terminology, which was something I wasn’t familiar at all. However, I think that despite it being a concept that was so intriguing, it wasn’t developed as well as I hoped. The world building was a bit lacking, and there was barely any explanation about the magic system, which only made me feel confused while reading the novel.
I think the book had so much potential, and if the reader had known more about that magic and its limitations, we could have understood better the story and the characters, because what I knew at the very beginning made me quite engaged in the story.
“Soraya should have known better by now than to indulge in such fantasies. She had read enough stories to know that the princess and the monster were never the same. She had been alone long enough to know which one she was.”
When it comes to the characters, I have to say I had a love/hate relationship with them. I think our protagonist was well written and I enjoyed her arc and evolution throughout the story, but the way the author wrote her relationships with the other characters was so unreliable. Not only the friendships happened so incredibly fast for it to make sense, but also (especially when it came to the romance) she created this romance when the characters not only they barely knew each other but had a few interactions between them. They could have this amazing chemistry, but she didn’t bothered to write an actual complex relationship between them, which was pretty sad because I think it would have been amazing.
I believe the main problem of Girl, Serpent, Thorn was the length of the book. It was just so short that there was no possible way for a standalone to have all those elements well put together. The introduction itself took a little bit and that made the middle part and the end feel quite rushed and underdeveloped, despite it being well written. The ending happened so fast and suddenly that when I realized it, the book had actually ended. There were some things that happened quite conveniently, and some revelations were a bit predictable, sadly.
Overall, I think Girl, Serpent, Thorn had such an interesting concept, and if it weren’t for the length of the book or the fact that it was a standalone we could have explore this world and this magic more, but because of those things it felt quite rush and underdeveloped.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own.
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