Captivating, Engrossing, and Fierce — 4 Stars for Girl, Serpent, Thorn!
veryyyyy *minor* spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned…
Okay, so. WoW. I really loved Girl, Serpent, Thorn! I received this book in my monthly Fairyloot box, and I’m so happy I did; this book was on my radar but I don’t know when (or if) I would have gotten around to reading it if I hadn’t gotten it literally delivered to my door lol. Any-hoo, on to actually talking about why I loved the book!
The premise of the story revolves around Soraya, whose touch is literally poison. She’s grown up isolated and unable to touch anyone, and this book explores her desire to escape her curse and find connection.
I’ve gotta say, this book tugged ALL of the heart-strings, y’all. There’s a lot going on in this book, but the part that connected the most for me was the essence of the story of a young woman struggling to claim her place in the world and learning to recognize her worth as a person. I’m a sucker for that kind of a character arc, and coupled with the themes of redemption, bravery, and self-acceptance that accompanied that part of the story I was a goner from the start.
The themes of generational history, and responsibility and accountability, were powerful and unique, and the rich cultural component (Persian inspired world) of this book created a lush world to be sucked into. The writing was also detailed and introspective, and I think it really helped round out the book as a whole.
Soraya’s relationships with her family in this book are complicated and experience realistic ups and downs. Soraya is a character that is far from perfect, and I really loved that. So often in YA Fantasy we are blessed with young, fierce women we get to love and root for – but imo we don’t get to see enough young women who are flawed, imperfect, and make mistakes often enough. And I think it’s a significant difference from having a MC who’s a bad ass who occasionally acts rashly, I’m talking about a character whose arc centers on her moments of doubt and weakness, and explores how we deal with the fallout. Soraya makes mistakes – big ones – but her story focuses on questions of accountability, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Beyond the storyline of Soraya’s mistakes and attempts to correct them, the romance storylines in this book were also amazing! There’s a bit of a love triangle going on, but I was personally more interested in the sapphic romance we got in this book! Not only do we actually get a bisexual main character, but I also just really loved the way that Soraya’s relationship with Parvaneh is integral to the story and to their personal growth within the story. Soraya and Parvaneh shared twin experiences of making mistakes, but hold themselves accountable and doing what they needed to do to fix things. Even if their romance doesn’t really take up *that* much of the story, it added so much depth to the book, and the *yearning* was just so good.
So, yeah. What more could I want from a book really. Sapphic romance, complicated and fleshed out characters, great world-building, unique plot lines, compelling story – this book has Got. It. All. Girl, Serpent, Thorn is about being brave enough to be true to yourself and take all that comes with being human – mistakes and moments of fear, but the ability to forgive and love.