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Publisher's Summary

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is "an alluring feminist fairy tale" (Kirkus Reviews) 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.

A Macmillan Audio production from Flatiron Books

"With crystalline, sometimes sensuous prose, [Bashardoust] digs into her characters' motivations and manipulations, deftly keeping readers on the hook until the final, stunning turn." (Booklist, starred review) 

©2020 Melissa Bashardoust (P)2020 Macmillan Young Listeners

Editor's Pick

I mean, just look at that COVER!
I know what you might be thinking: ''ugh, another fairy tale-inspired young adult novel.'' But wait—this one stands apart from the pack. Instead of relying on overused tropes, Girl, Serpent, Thorn intertwines Persian myths with European fairy tales to create a tapestry unlike anything else that’s come before it. Soraya, the protagonist, is utterly compelling—filled with conflict (and poison, quite literally), she must decide whether she’s a beautiful, silent flower or a deadly, empowered serpent. The character’s dual nature feels immediately relatable—and provides plenty of excitement in a listen that’s filled with interesting choices and consequences. —Sean T., Audible Editor

What listeners say about Girl, Serpent, Thorn

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Em
  • 01-21-21

It’s gay and it slaps

One of the best fairytales I’ve read in a long time. It’s so interesting to read a fantasy rooted in oral history and ancient facts. Couldn’t stop. Finished it in less than 2 days.

7 people found this helpful

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beautiful & artful retelling of Persian stories

Content warnings: kidnap, torture, murder

I fell in love with Bashardoust’s writing and Massoud’s narration.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is about three outcasts of their own respective families. Soraya, Parvaneh, and Azad are all haunted by their past, their present, and each other. Each of them a monster in their own way, all very conflicted characters who embody good and evil simultaneously.

Apart from the prologue, the story was told exclusively in Soraya’s third-person limited point of view. With the many deceptions and omissions of truths, we never really know where anyone’s loyalties lie nor who is trustworthy, who is not. We continue to question the truth as each character has their own warped version of it, each believing in their own righteousness. It is as easy to love the villain as it is the protagonist. With Soraya, Parvaneh, and Azad all carrying regrets and suffering from the consequences of their own past actions, they are all so human and monstrous at the same time, asking for forgiveness, love, and acceptance from each other, which in turn means seeking self-forgiveness, self-love, and self-acceptance.

Bashardoust vividly describes scenes, emotions, and thoughts through similes. Her words are precise, beautifully haunting, and hauntingly beautiful. There are also a lot of hidden rhetoric questions within the story. How do you forgive others and yourself when damage is done? What is freedom when the price is the people you love?

Massoud’s narration made the whole reading experience perfect. Her breathing is on point, accent and voice for each character clear and distinctive; her own voice is calming and almost hypnotizing. I love that Soraya’s voice always sounds a little scared, Parveneh’s sing-songy, and Azad’s calm and gentle. As a book with borrowed Persian words, the audiobook also provides great pronunciation references in addition to more noticeable rhyming and alliterations that are occasionally present.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn has rocked me in a wonderful way. This book depicts the complexities of being an individual, and what it means to trust, love, and forgive.

3 people found this helpful

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Lovely!

I had a great time listening to this book on audio. I've been very busy the last week, and it says a lot that I made an effort to finish within 7 days of starting my listen.

I love this hybrid, ancient, and magical world. Although I may have wanted a glossary of terms at the beginning of the novel to better understand the different terminology the author used instead of at the end of the novel, I was still able to derive the who was what and what was who from the context of the story. The writing in itself was beautiful, lyrical, and sound. I liked how the storytelling was well paced and patient with the reader. In fact, I very much like how the author set subtle clues, the keyword being SUBTLE! It encourages a reread to get a better picture of the characters and the world they live in.

Speaking of the characters, I absolutely love Soraya. She's the gray character I've always wanted while growing up. She's the type of character who reminds us that it's okay to feel angry. It's alright to feel worried and ashamed. We can feel feelings! That have a negative reaction to a situation doesn't mean you're a horrible person. You can mess up, and you're allowed to clean up the mess you make. I loved that, especially for my past teenage, anger filled self. Soraya is a champion!

As for the other characters? They were great, too. No one is completely good or completely evil. There's potential for both in everyone, and nothing is in black or white--you know, just like the real world, yo.

So, why just 4 stars? I can't seem to pinpoint why. I really, really liked the novel, but I wasn't ravenous for it. I didn't have to stay up all night absorbing it, and that's okay. All I know is that I'm going to invest my time in this author again and any other series she might write. I know for sure that if Soraya makes another appearance, I'll be on that!

2 people found this helpful

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Monster girlfriends >>>>>>

I LOVED this book and this narrator. Probably my favorite narration I’ve listened to so far, and her pronunciation of the Persian words was so satisfying. Highly recommend

1 person found this helpful

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Selfishness affects ALL

An interesting story with a myriad of mini lessons underneath. One powerful mini story is how a selfish choice can affect all your loved ones. Choose wisely.

1 person found this helpful

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Disappointed

it may have been my own misguided expectations, but I was very disappointed in this book. Plot was predictable, the characters were cliche, and the dialogue left much to be desired. This story felt basic and a little immature. I'm all here for the LGBT representation and the narrator did fine. The world building and sense of urgency just wasn't there for me.

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It really is gay and it really does slap

11/10, will read again.

-=-
Note: I don't believe any of what I write here is spoilery but if you are like me and figure out plots of movies or books from just hearing which friends liked them vs which friends didn't, stop here and just BUY THE BOOK AND READ IT. You won't be disappointed.
-=-

I've been looking for a good folklore-centered romantic fantasy for a hot minute. Robin McKinley, Tamora Pierce, Sherwood Smith, (some) Juliet Marillier, Patricia Wrede, Diana Wynne Jones...these authors and more are my lifeblood and after I finished ripping through several incredible stories by Naomi Novik and others I just...hit a dead end in GOOD romantic fantasy stories. Every new author and book I tried just wasn't *right.* Toxic chemistry-dead "romances" and assault and 7+ book series for soapy messy relationships. No thanks.

On top of that, I had already dredged through the LGBT sections early last year and wasn't impressed with any of the sapphic stories. They were either very smutty or no chemistry or even worse, BOTH. As a romantic-fantasy-loving lesbian, I was desperately disappointed.

But then somehow Audible stumbled on this book as a recommendation to me. I missed that there was Gay Content (TM) and added it to my "to try" romantic fantasy list. And then this week I was searching through my to-try list and reading reviews when I saw reviewer Em's review that said "it's gay and it slaps". Oh u bet your booty I purchased it IMMEDIATELY.

It really is gay and it really does slap, my friends. Our main lead is a bi ICON. She has lil squishy crushes on both men and women and there's no annoying love triangle (aka Love Angle) and it's the same level of sweet yet entrancing that a McKinley book is. Nothing explicit. Just tasty, tasty romance and betrayal and a story of learning to love yourself and value yourself without searching for your worth in another person. A story about finding people who value you and value the whole you. This is a book I would happily lend to a young tween without worrying about content (unlike many Marillier books, for example).

Oh. And bonus: the narrator does the story justice, to boot. This audiobook from story to narrator feels like it was MADE for me from start to finish. I LOVED it. Melissa Bashardoust and Nikki Massoud, you glorious humans. Thank you so much.



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Beyond beautiful story.

I rarely write reviews for books here. I rarely love them as much as I loved this. It isn’t the genre I usually read nor have I read anything else by this author but I can NOT put into words how absolutely breathtaking this story is. The culture, the verbage, the twists, the struggles. All relatable but also played with wonder, imagination and…well, magic. Highly recommended.

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Beautiful book really enjoyed it

I really enjoyed this book, finished it in one night. The story was really good and and I loved the characters.

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Surprisingly Delightful

This book starts slow, but stick with the first bit, because it quickly picks up and I just listened to the whole thing in almost one sitting. It's so good and it's hard to stop listening once it gets good. There are so many clever twists and surprises, and the characters feel more like real people than characters in a book, with complex feelings, motivations and flaws. I can not recommend this book enough.