What originally started out as a buddy read of a book very high on my TBR together with the wonderful Marlene (@cabeswaterdreams) ended with Marlene DNFing it, me finishing alone and wondering what to do with the story. It’s been like 10 minutes since I finished it and I need to put my thoughts down right now, before I forget half of it and I won’t have that as Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust does deserve a review.
I’m extremely influenceable when it comes to books. I get easily swayed by pretty covers, praise or recommendations by friends. Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust pretty much fits in all of these categories for me. The cover is – in my opinion – gorgeous and I’d probably would’ve bought this no matter what. But I’ve also read some amazing reviews for the story and saw it recommended by several friends and other people I follow (mainly on bookstagram). After I talked to Marlene about it and we both wanted to read it, we decided on a buddy read – which I rarely do and Marlene never does. So this was an exception for both of us and it didn’t end that well because of the book.
The story follows Soraya, a princess who is cursed from birth to be poisonous. She can’t touch living beings (with the exceptions of plants) without her skin being covered and lives in the shadows of the palace, unknown to most of the world. To be honest, I almost feared that a romance would unfold in which her counterpart was the only person able to touch her – however that might have been possible. But luckily that was not the case and there are no exceptions from the curse. But before I talk about the romance (which does happen), I’d like to take a moment and talk about Soraya as a character. I did take some kind of liking to her, but I wished that she would’ve chosen a different path throughout the book. She clearly had the means to become a antiheroine or villain and is seen several times to have darker thoughts. It would have been amazing to see her descend into villainhood and become the monster she always feared to be. But well, I sadly didn’t get that story. Still, I could see the motivations of Soraya and can’t say that I would’ve acted differently if in the same position.
Talking about villainhood, I am not sure what to do with the actual villain of the book. While I did love the villain-aspect (complete with the arc and the backgroundstory of it), I
hated disliked the character itself immensely. Right from the introduction I was wary and didn’t really grew close to them, having several supicious moments which turned out to to be true. Sometimes your gut just knows what’s right. Concerning this, I also saw a realtively big twist in about the middle of the book coming, or at least supsected it and wasn’t surpised when it happened. Still, the ambitions of the villain made my heart swell (because I do have a twisted love for villains and especially the dynamic that is featured here) and I wished that the character itself would’ve been different. That way I might have enjoyed the book even more.
As I already said there was romance in Girl, Serpent, Thorn – actually there were two main relationships happening, which both didn’t really grip me. The first one just didn’t sit right with me and I wasn’t really invested in it (besides later when said realtionship turned one-sided and I imagined what could have been instead. THAT would have been a ride.) The second relationship turned out to be f/f, something I actually love, was more down my alley but sadly I didn’t get enough of it. In my opinion it would have needed more time to develop, so I could be more invested in it. Still, it felt more natural than the first one, though I still have my issues with it.
What I actually did love (like a lot) was the mythology / lore / culture incorporated into the worldbuilding. There are influences of Persian culture and mythology but also a subtle nod to Sleeping Beauty. Bashardoust took all of those elements to form her own world to set her story in and I loved that. I’d also advise you to take a look at the Author’s Notes, in which she explains some aspects of the book and her inspiration about it. I loved that this was included and I am tempted to take a look at the resources she mentioned to learn more about Persian culture and mythology.
I enjoyed the story enough to finish the book (mostly because of the mythology and the cultural influences), but I wished that the story would’ve taken a darker path and that the villainous aspects would have been stronger.
– f/f romance
– bi MC
– POC characters / own voices
If you want to get a copy of Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust, you can get it via BookDepository or any other bookseller you trust!