Rummanah Aasi
 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.

Review:  Combining Persian mythology, Zoroastrianism, and using the framework of "Sleeping Beauty", 
Bashardoust has created a feminist, queer fairy tale retelling of her own. For two centuries, the ancestors of the shah of Atashar have ruled under the protection of the legendary magical bird, the simorgh. The simorgh has not been seen for many years, the nobility is losing faith in the young shah, and attacks by monstrous divs are becoming ever more organized. Soraya, the shah’s twin sister, carries poison in her veins and lives, hidden in the shadows of the palace garden. Soraya's poison is lethal and with the slightest touch she can kill any living being. She longs for companionship and a normal life, but feels a growing urge to hurt and kill and has nightmares of transforming into a div. When a handsome young soldier named Azad captures a parik, a female demon who attacks the shah, Soraya finds herself increasingly attracted to both man and monster. The parik may hold Soraya's answer on how to lift her curse, but it will not be easy. Azad eagerly offers help, but can Soraya trust him and will she be willing to betray her family to free herself? 
  Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a slow burn story with a mesmerizing world building steeped in Persian culture. The focus of the story is on Soraya's personal growth and her morally complex quest for identity, asking what she wants of herself rather than what society asks of her. Her character arc is exciting to witness. Soraya is flawed, insecure, and vulnerable but we can understand her position and the predicaments in which she finds herself. I very much appreciated that Soraya is not the only strong female character in the story, but her support is also from strong female allies and secondary characters. Although the romance is present in the story, it is subdued. I wish Soraya's biromantic feelings were a bit more fleshed out. The ending is a bit stretched out, but satisfyingly complete. There are some predictable turns in the plot, but one twist did in fact take me by surprise. Readers looking for more diverse fantasy standalone reads might want to pick this one up. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong violence. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston, Red Hood by Elana Arnold, Damsel by Elana Arnold 
1 Response
  1. This doesn't sound like my type of book, really, but I'm glad you liked it.

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails