Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust is a fairytale retelling with a twist. In Girl, Serpent, Thorn, we take the story of Sleeping Beauty and add in the elements of Persian folklore. This combination gave an incredibly interesting, and fun to read the story- feeling both old and new.
Sometimes the princess is the monster.
In Girl, Serpent, Thorn, we follow Soraya, a princess who has had to live her life hidden away. All because of a curse placed on her as a baby, Soraya is poisonous to the touch. There is a demon in the dungeons who may just hold the answer to the question: Is there a way to remove it? The emotional ups and downs, the intricacies of families, and just what mothers will do for their children, made this book a beautiful experience.
This book was slow to start, and initially, felt like it was peaking too soon. I had my concerns, as I was worried we would peak and then remain stagnant for the rest of the book. I also was concerned about the love interests in this book and the paths they would take- because I’ve had my heart broken before by queerbaiting and I was so afraid this was that (spoiler: It’s not. Hetbaiting though, that is a trope I can get behind). Additionally, the relationship with the brother felt detached. While I don’t think this is incredibly important to the story, and I understand they were separated, the relationship still felt odd.
After the 40% mark, the story becomes an entire tale about Soraya and finding strength in herself. Curse or no curse, recognizing the power that she has. I think there is a lot of layers of this story that one could get into- including the conversations about how women are often taught that having power makes them cursed- instead of just powerful. The author’s note was also interesting to listen to. It explains the Persian folklore pieces of the story.
Thank you to Macmillan and Netgalley for this book in its audiobook form. The narration is well done, and the pacing of the story prevented listening to it from getting boring. I’ve said this before but, I wish they would update the Netgalley player. The playback is a little painful to hear.
4.5/5 stars overall.