Girl, Serpent, Thorn
Girl, Serpent, Thorn
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Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover22.15
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Annotation: Soraya, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch, has lived eighteen years in the shadows but as her twin brother's wedding approaches, she faces choices with unimaginable consequences.
Genre: [Fantasy fiction]
Catalog Number: #220125
Format: Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 322 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-250-19614-0 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8459-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-250-19614-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8459-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2019059176
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
"Stories always begin the same way. There was and there was not." Soraya, sister of the Kingdom's future shah, lives a privileged life in Golvahar Palace and loves to hear her mother's hopeful fairy tales. But the threat of divs, monsters who attack and harm people, lurks at the base of the mountain. Soraya is trapped by the curse of a div, put upon her as a baby: any living creature that touches her will be poisoned. In richly descriptive third-person narration, the reader meets Soraya as she begins to rebel, hoping to break the curse and realizing that the tale of its origin, as she knew it, is not true, and neither are her notions of good and evil. When she becomes allies (and eventually romantic partners) with a female div, she learns that everyone, div or human, is capable of choosing between cruelty and kindness. Bashardoust weaves a compulsively readable modern queer fairy tale that is part fantastical adventure and part allegory. An author's note gives background about the book's origins, including the Persian epic tale of the Shanahmeh and Zoroastrian theistic notions of the creator and destroyer, as well as about its use of "a combination of words taken from Old Persian, Middle Persian, and modern Persian." Christina L. Dobbs
Kirkus Reviews
A princess who is poisonous to the touch struggles with the choice between good and evil.For two centuries, the ancestors of the shah of Atashar have ruled under the protection of the legendary magical bird, the simorgh. But the simorgh has long been missing, the nobility is losing faith in the young shah, and attacks by monstrous divs are becoming ever more organized. Soraya, the shah’s 18-year-old twin sister, carries poison in her veins and lives, shrinking, in the shadows of the palace garden "so that her family would not live in hers.” She longs for companionship but feels a growing urge to hurt and kill and has nightmares of transforming into a div. When a handsome young soldier captures a parik, a female demon who attacks the shah, Soraya finds herself increasingly attracted to both man and monster. But the parik leads Soraya to discover how she may lift her curse, and the soldier offers to help. Will Soraya betray her family to free herself? Bashardoust draws from Persian mythology and fairy tales to portray this morally complex biromantic heroine’s quest for identity, with support from strong female allies. Although the prose is occasionally heavy-handed and the emotional shifts sometimes abrupt, the narrative’s strengths lie in an intricate and unpredictable plot that resists easy tropes and textured and evocative worldbuilding. All characters are Persian.An alluring feminist fairy tale. (author’s note, further reading) (Fantasy. 12-18)
Publishers Weekly
Bashardoust (Girls Made of Snow and Glass) combines Persian language and tales, particularly -The Shahnameh,- with European fairy tales and Zoroastrianism to create a world replete with deadly gardens, mothlike beings, and haunting burial grounds. Cursed with poisonous skin by a div, one of the Destroyer-s -demonic servants,- Soraya has hidden within her
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 6-8 Bashardoust, author of Girls Made of Snow and Glass , 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. Having grown up in near total isolation because her ungloved touch instantly kills any creature, Soraya regards herself as a monster who is rightfully confined to her chambers and rose gardenuntil, against her better judgment, she is drawn to Azad, a magnetic newcomer in the court of her twin brother, Shah Sorush. The feeling seems mutual, and with his help she not only sneaks out for secret assignations, but learns at last how to dispel her curse from Parvaneh, a magical captive "div" who turns out to be a moth-winged, fairy-like girl with whom she also soon develops a strange, steamy affinity. She hardly gets to experience being a normal human before an entire army of monstrous divs attacks her city. Soraya discovers that she's been a pawn in a vicious plot that leaves her entire family slated for slaughter even as she is wooed by the divs' demonic, bat-winged leader who sees her as a kindred spirit. Along with the influences that the author cites in a detailed afterword, which range from Zoroastrian beliefs and the Shahnameh, to Sleeping Beauty and Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter , alert readers will spot nods to other classics such as Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel as events whirl to a climatic close amid cascades of poisoned thorns, just deserts, and self-acceptance. VERDICT Surefire for middle school readers fond of princesses capable of embracing actual demons as well as the inner sort. John Peters, Children's Literature Consultant, New York
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Soraya has always known the story: a girl saved a young woman who was being held captive by a div, a monster. The angry div laid a curse upon the girl so that her firstborn daughter would be poisonous to the touch. That is why Soraya wears gloves and remains sequestered among her rose gardens, hidden from the public, while her twin brother, Sorush, prepares to become shah. As Sorush's wedding approaches, a hero arrives in the palace, one who is said to have performed heroic deeds. Instead of fleeing from Soraya, he seems desperate to save her, and though she has convinced herself that she is content in her isolation, Soraya feels, for the first time, the stirrings of a more dangerous impulse. But in the dungeons of the palace is another div, one who understands more about Soraya's curse than Soraya does herself, and who may carry the key to breaking it only Soraya, unmoored by the attraction she feels to both man and demon, can bring herself to trust her. In her sophomore novel, Bashardoust (Girls Made of Snow and Glass, 2017) 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, she digs into her characters' motivations and manipulations, deftly keeping readers on the hook until the final, stunning turn.
Word Count: 96,727
Reading Level: 6.6
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.6 / points: 16.0 / quiz: 512234 / grade: Upper Grades

Melissa Bashardoust's Girl, Serpent, Thorn is "an alluring feminist fairy tale" ( Kirkus ) 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.

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