ALC Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Source: ALC via Netgalley

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

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.

I finished Girl, Serpent, Thorn almost a week ago and I’m still not entirely sure what I think. The premise was good. It was interesting, engaging, and just dark enough to keep me reading but not make me overwhelmed. The writing is also good. Bashardoust clearly knows her way around words, and the writing was never clunky and the dialogue was never forced.

The problem I had with this book mainly boils down to one thing. This book did not work for me as a standalone. Let’s get one thing straight: there is a lot going on in this book, and it’s only 336 pages. There was not nearly enough room for Bashardoust to develop both the characters and the plot, so events seem to jump around pretty quickly (and often conveniently), and aside from Soraya, very few of the characters feel like real people.

Another issue I had with this book was the romance. This was hyped up to be a great f/f romance, and while, yes, I suppose there is technically a f/f romance to be found here, it’s so minimal that you could blink and miss it. I loved the chemistry between Soraya and her female love interest and just wish it would have been fleshed out a little more. While it’s nice to finally have a YA fantasy novel that doesn’t prioritize romance over action, this romance was such a tiny part of the book that I almost wondered why it was included at all.

As for the audio, I thought the narrator did a great job. I did, as usual, have to listen on 1.75x speed to not fall asleep, but that probably says more about me than about the book.

In the end, if you’re really into YA fantasy and retellings, you might enjoy this.


Have you read Girl, Serpent, Thorn? Is it on your TBR?
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