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.
“Bashardoust again draws elements from multiple folkloric and literary precursors for a relationship-driven tale in which sexual undertones are no less intense for being kept between the lines. Alert readers will spot nods to other classics as events whirl to a climatic close amid cascades of poisoned thorns, just deserts, and self-acceptance. Surefire for readers fond of princesses capable of embracing actual demons as well as the inner sort.”—SLJ (starred review)
“A compulsively readable modern queer fairy tale that is part fantastical adventure and part allegory.”—Horn Book Magazine
“A can't-miss LGBTQ+ YA fantasy that gleefully rewrites the fairy-tale playbook.”—PopSugar, Best Book of the Month
“Melissa Bashardoust’s Girl, Serpent, Thorn has the lushness of a fairy tale and the boldness of the best contemporary YA fantasy. This opulent novel, inspired by traditional Persian stories, combines all the romance and intrigue of high fantasy with a deep exploration of the main character’s emotional world and relationship to her own strength.”—Lamba Literary
“A lovely entwining of Persian culture and myth with well-known fairy tales. One of the best books of the year, hands down.”—BuzzFeed
“Melissa Bashardoust’s Girl, Serpent, Thorn is so much more than a fairytale—it’s a fantasy story about human complexity. Plus, the presence of a queer princess who saves herself from herself is nothing short of excellence.”—Paperback Paris
“Not only does this story combine some beautifully dark fairy-tales, but does so with such a talented hand. I finished this story and was desperate for more from Melissa Bashardoust. This is a dark fairytale you won’t want to miss out on.”—The Nerd Daily
“A lush, atmospheric fantasy with an intriguingly complicated heroine, Girl, Serpent, Thorn presents us with a princess who may well be a monster herself . . . This is a story that takes multiple unexpected turns, from subverting established fairytale tropes to exploring issues of family and sexuality. Several of your initial assumptions about this book may well turn out to be wrong by its final pages.”—The Culturess
“Girl, Serpent, Thorn is YA literature at its best.”—BookPage
“Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a deliciously lush fairy tale of a novel. I was swept away by Bashardoust’s prose and found myself losing track of time as I read, turning every page, sinking into her magnificent world, wishing it would never end. At its heart, it’s a book about a girl who may be monstrous claiming her own power, filled with twists and a fascinating queer romance that stole my own heart.”—Patrice Caldwell, editor of A Phoenix First Must Burn: 16 Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope
“Gorgeously written and quietly powerful, Bashardoust’s latest is an enthralling tale of family, monsters, and the things we do for love.”—S. A. Chakraborty, author of City of Brass
“Every passage is a fine cut gem, each facet brilliantly rendered to create a stunningly crafted fairytale about a girl and monsters and a girl who is also a monster. I truly loved this book.”—Emily Duncan, author of Wicked Saints
“This is a gorgeously written book set in a beautiful and dangerous world. I loved the vividness of the story, and the way Bashardoust makes stories matter in this book. I was captivated from the beginning, and absolutely thrilled with the end. Watching Soraya come into her own as a character was a delight.”—Kat Howard, author of An Unkindness of Magicians
“The queer, good-monster book of my dreams. I loved this heroine with my entire soul.”—E. K. Johnston, author of Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow
“Monstrously beautiful and enchanting, Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a fairytale for anyone who has ever feared the poison in their own heart. I loved this queer, subversive, lyrical and deeply affirming book.”—Tasha Suri, author of Empire of Sand
“Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a tale a rose might tell, lushly perfumed and lined with thorns in all the right places. With complex women, Persian demons, a gorgeously twisting narrative, and the age-old question of what it means to be a monster, it had me eagerly flipping pages until the very end. I only wish there were more!”—Shveta Thakrar, author of Star Daughter
“Like a jeweled fairy tale, Girl, Serpent, Thorn glitters with twisty revelations, curses and dangerous transformations, magic and monsters and love—and at its heart, a girl who can kill with a touch. A thrilling, moving story of what it means to come into one’s own power, this book is utterly captivating.”—Gita Trelease, author of Enchantée
“Bashardoust draws from Persian mythology and fairy tales to portray this morally complex bi-romantic heroine’s quest for identity, with support from strong female allies. An alluring feminist fairy tale.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Bashardoust draws from the myths and religions of her own Persian culture to create a world simmering with magic and treachery where no one is quite what they appear to be. 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)
“Scenes are lavishly detailed, Soraya’s inner turmoil is rendered with drama as she chooses whether to be a mouse or a viper, and the connection between Soraya and Parvaneh is stirring. Bashardoust’s exceptional attention to folktale structure and Soraya’s hard-won acceptance of herself make for a lyrical, inspiring read.”—Publishers Weekly
Reviews from Goodreads
From the roof of Golvahar, Soraya could almost believe that she existed.
The roof was a dangerous place, a painful luxury. Standing at the edge, she could see the garden spread out in front of the palace, lush and beautiful...