Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a fairy tale, a fantasy adventure, and a romance novel. The story explores personal identity, what it means to be “strong,” and the fluidity of perception (explored through the lens of monstrosity).
There are a lot of unexpected plot twists and turns that nonetheless feel inevitable once revealed. The book balances all of these elements well and provides a fun page-turning read.
The story’s plot twists come from the (many) secrets Soraya uncovers in her quest to be free of her curse. I found Soraya’s courage and plucky creativity much more compelling than her periods of angsty guilt, though her self-doubt is plausible given her social isolation and naivete--and she faces some truly formidable foes.
Soraya’s final transformation is less than fully satisfying. The author laid out the reason for her decision well, it fit with the theme of self-empowerment, and it set her up with a super-cool lover--but it didn’t provide the emotional catharsis I was hoping for. A minor quibble in an otherwise delightful tale.
Be sure to read the author’s note at the end where she describes the various legends and myths she used to inform the novel.