Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn

by Melissa Bashardoust
Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn

by Melissa Bashardoust


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250196149
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: 07/07/2020
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 291,085
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Melissa Bashardoust received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairy tales and their retellings. She currently lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Melissa is the author of Girls Made of Snow and Glass and Girl, Serpent, Thorn.

Reading Group Guide

Welcome to the Reading Group Guide for Girl, Serpent, Thorn. Please note: In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this novel—as well as the ending. If you have not finished reading Girl, Serpent, Thorn, we respectfully suggest that you may want to wait before reviewing this guide.

1. Girl, Serpent, Thorn opens with this line: “Stories always begin the same way: There was and there was not.” The words speak not only of possibility, but hint at dualities. In what ways do you see these themes resonate throughout the book?

2. In Girl, Serpent, Thorn, nothing is simply what it seems, and expectations are subverted at every step. How did the story surprise you, challenging what you thought you knew?

3. Soraya is pulled to Azad, even as she suspects that he is “saying all the right words” and “making all the right gestures, almost as if he had practiced them in his head.” Why does she let him “play the hero” for her?

4. After killing the yatu, Soraya says she was “always afraid the poison would make [her] a monster,” and wonders if “trying to get rid of it makes [her] more of a monster than [she] was before.” Do you agree with her fears? Why or why not?

5. Though Soraya initially has feelings for Azad, she ultimately falls for Parvaneh. What is it about each character that Soraya is drawn to?

6. To save her family, Soraya must recreate the div ritual, giving up the touch she had always wanted for the poison she had always hated. What does it mean for Soraya to make this sacrifice?

7. When Soraya surrenders to the poison in her veins, embracing her transformation, she says that she finally feels whole. How does this acceptance make her feel complete? What was missing all these years?

8. Soraya wonders if Azad deserves the “mercy of her thorns,” but grants it to him. Why does she make that choice and how does it reflect a new perspective and understanding of her poisonous touch?

9. “Sometimes the princess is the monster.” What do you make of this line? What does it say about stories and archetypes?

10. Girl, Serpent, Thorn is inspired by Sleeping Beauty, Rappaccini's Daughter, and Persian myths like the Shahnameh. In what ways do you see connections to these stories? What other tales echo throughout the book?

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