Hello and welcome to our monthly Read the Rainbow discussion spotlight! Today we have an exciting f/f fantasy book that has been hyped up by a lot of readers in the bookish community 🙂
Read the Rainbow is a spotlight for queer books, authors and readers. Every month, I’ll be hosting an interview or discussion centered around a queer book. The interviews will be conducted with authors and the discussions will take place with #ownvoice readers for each book. Every month, I’ll be announcing the book of the month for Read the Rainbow so that everyone can read the book before the spotlight, although it is not a necessity.
Our August BOTM is Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust, a Persian mythology inspired sapphic fantasy featuring a queer main character and side character as well.
A captivating and utterly original fairy tale 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.
Today on the blog we have Charlotte to hold a discussion around Girl, Serpent, Thorn. Charlotte (she/her) is a bookstagrammer and identifies as an asexual demiromantic lesbian. She is an English teacher and a Ravenclaw and loves reading YA books.
As per usual the discussion remains spoiler-free.
1. Just from reading the blurb and looking at the cover what were your thoughts or expectations from this book? Did your expectations hold?
The cover was very feminine and beautiful, so I expected a very lush, atmospheric story. I feel like that’s exactly what I got. The writing was absolutely gorgeous. The cover and title are also hints at some of the major plot points, in the order that they happen, which I thought was very clever!
2. Who was your favourite character in the book and which character do you wish to read more about?
My favorite character was Parvaneh. There were just so many layers to her that was shown a little bit at a time. Her development throughout the book was beautifully done. I would have loved to have seen more of Laleh. The brief tastes we got of her character and her friendship with Soraya were so sweet and I would have really liked to get to see more of her story.
3. Without giving any spoilers, tell us about your favourite parts or scenes in the book!
Most scenes involving Soraya and Parvaneh were my favorites. Every scene that had Parvaneh in it advanced the plot forward in such beautiful, subtle ways. There also was a scene with the two of them in the forest that was so incredibly sweet. Would definitely read a million more of those.
4. What did you think about the overall plot and Soraya’s character arc?
I thought that the whole arc was very cleverly done. There is a consistent building throughout the story of things not being as they seem, or things being dangerous, and there are three distinct sections of Soraya’s development as a character. The way it all bled together made a lot of sense and tensions built consistently throughout the story. I liked how even though I could guess many of the things that were going to happen, none of it felt obvious, just inevitable, and there were still little surprises plotwise.
5. How did you find the sapphic romance? Did it get a bit lost in the fantasy story or was it able to flourish?
I loved the romance. I was glad that it wasn’t the whole point of the story, given that it’s a fantasy, but was clearly still important. It also felt believable. The characters were given time and space to develop and come together. And it was messy too! I sometimes get a little annoyed when a fantasy plotline seems to be put “on pause” in order to let a romance develop. These two seemed to develop in harmony.
6. If you could see Girl, Serpent, Thorn on-screen would you rather see it as a movie, tv-show or even a short movie?
I think it would be a good mini-series. I don’t feel that a movie would be able to handle the world-building necessary for it to make sense, but the story is so well-contained, I wouldn’t want it to be a long tv series, which would likely make it messy and difficult to follow.
However, having seen it be done very well for several books, I’m a big proponent for standalone books like this being turned into Webtoons. I think that’s an amazing option for all fantasy books.
7. Describe the vibe of this book in three words.
Atmospheric, soft, heart-wrenching
8. Lastly, if you were to write a short letter to either this book or the author, what would you say?
Thank you for writing such messy girls, as well as a villain so complex, it’s easy to both totally hate them and understand how they got where they are. Thank you for looking at the moral grays and showing how it complicates relationships, and how people try and make the best decision they can and sometimes fail. And thank you for a beautiful queer story and a main character who is allowed to be attracted to multiple people in very different ways without questioning the validity of any of those attractions.
Thank you so much Charlotte for this lovely discussion!
Now usually this is the segment where I introduce the next book of the month but I’ve decided to take a month off due to various reasons so sadly there will be no BOTM or discussion in September. But hopefully we’ll be back in October so keep an eye put for that and in the meantime, keep reading queer and sapphic books 🙂