Monday, September 21, 2020

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Narrated by Nikki Massoud


Synopsis (via Goodreads): 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 received an ARC of the audiobook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn was an okay read for me, and for some reason those are the hardest books to review! I thought it took too long for the story to flow from one thing to the next; however, the writing was lyrical and lovely. I would have preferred a quicker pace and less inner dialogue, and I also wasn't on board with Azad as a love interest. I thought the book would have benefited from a dual POV, because his backstory would have been more interesting coming from his perspective (rather than told to us through Soraya). He's been through sooo much, yet we only see a blip of his existence. 

Other issues I had with the book: lying and withheld information. Soraya made poor decisions, but she might not have made those same choices had she been given all the information from the start. Since she was a child, her mother has spun a pretty - - albeit sad and disturbing - - tale about how Soraya became poisonous to the touch. The truth was actually preferable, so I'm not entirely sure what her mother was trying to accomplish by keeping the most important details a secret (her eventual explanation was lame). She did a good thing for her daughter, yet only told half-truths and kept Soraya hidden from the rest of the world. Her actions created animosity and increased her daughter's isolation. Additionally, Soraya is hurt by the lies, but chooses to become a liar herself. *sighs with frustration*

I simply could not get behind or support the decisions of the secondary characters. Soraya's mother was doing her best (but not really). Sorush (her twin brother) was her constant companion until he became too important to spend time with her. Her only other childhood friend became preoccupied, apparently easily distracted by her overly protective brother. Azad and Parvaneh both used Soraya despite having "legitimate" feelings for her (still find this hard to believe). They were all super obnoxious. Although, I liked that the author chose to pursue both a M/F and a F/F relationship, and that it seemed totally normal for Soraya to have feelings for both. 

I also didn't feel like there was very much character development or story growth from start to finish. Soraya was more confident towards the end, but her overall changes were minor. She fell into the same habits and ways of thinking, and never really challenged herself to be or do more than she was accustomed to. She also flip-flopped (over and over again) between what kind of person she wanted to be. She understandably felt some resentment towards her family, so her selfish actions made sense, but then she immediately regrets her decisions and wants to make amends. She can't decide if she wants to be good, or embrace some of the darker aspects of her personality. It gave me mental whiplash. 

I really enjoyed the world Bashardoust created, and thought the explanations at the end were interesting. The author talks about what inspired her story, and even shares some of the tales her book was based on. Unfortunately, the characters didn't do her world justice, and I wish they'd been more worthy of their setting. The divs were supposed to be brutal and scary, but they were always restrained and on their best behavior. Potential spoiler: I'm also not sure how Azad made or convinced Parvaneh to attack Sorush, since she could have used that opportunity to escape. It wasn't explained very well.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn had the makings of an excellent story, but too many aspects fell flat for me. I couldn't relate to Soraya and her struggles, both romances were unbelievable, the actions of her friends and family felt false, the divs didn't act very intimidating or monstrous, and the main villain seemed too gullible. Soraya was able to easily manipulate several people, despite having little to no interactions with others for most of her life. It simply wasn't believable. (★★★☆☆)

*The narrator was okay. She didn't really sell the characters for me though.


  1. What a gorgeous cover! I'm sorry this was just an okay audiobook for you. I definitely don't enjoy a slow start, and when there isn't a lot of character development you kind of lose me already.
    Great review!

    1. Very true! A lack of character growth makes me feel less invested in the overall story, and a slow start makes it hard for me to connect with what's going on. I need a smooth or fast pace coupled with amazing characters that learn and evolve!


Click the "Notify me" box if you want to be notified when someone responds!

“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless