Girl, Serpent, Thorn is Melissa Bashardoust’s second novel, a lush stand-alone fantasy inspired by the courts and lore of ancient Persia. Woven through with conflicts of desire and power, loyalty and self-interest, the novel presents a coming-of-age tale that is subversive, queer, and rife with danger. As the intriguing cover copy starts, “There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch.”
Soraya is the twin sister of the shah of Atashar, but their lives run on opposite courses. She has kept to untouched seclusion in the palace through her entire life for the safety of herself and others, as one glancing brush of her skin is lethal. Her lush rose garden and occasionally her mother, brother, or childhood friend Laleh are her only companions—until Laleh stops visiting. However, when her brother brings a captured demon home with him to Golvahar, Soraya sees a chance to bargain for a cure to her curse… except bargaining with devils for knowledge comes at a high cost, and the consequences of Soraya’s actions far exceed the scope of her imagination.