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 from everyone, 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.
This story follows Soraya, a girl cursed with poison running through her veins. She has spent all her life locked away, hardly seeing anyone and never touching them without gloves, skin to skin touch brings instant death to the recipient. I can see why this book is receiving lots of attention, the cover is beautiful and the whole premise of the story is enough to draw you in. The story reads very much like a fairytale and is influenced by Persian culture and mythology. It is imaginative and well paced and it was engaging enough to make me want to keep reading to the end. Despite the fact I enjoyed the book, I wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement when I finished it. The plot, the world and the setting were amazing, but I had issues engaging with the writing style, which lacked richness and complexity, and the simplicity of it read like a much younger YA novel.
The story is full of characters both human and mythological, which the author has described well and with great care. I would have liked to have seen much more depth to these characters, particularly with the leading characters which felt a little shallow and under-developed. I was hoping the romance between Soraya and Azad would develop into a beauty and the beast scenario and I was almost willing this to happen throughout the book. Both romances felt a bit flat and needed more build up and integrity to make them a little more believable.
What I thought was brilliant was the world and the magic system. I loved this very interesting concept and the Persian setting was unique and interesting. The author has spent a lot of time drawing on the history, language and mythology of Persian and this really shines through in the novel. My much younger self would have rated this book so much higher, but my older self looks for much more in a book. The foundations were all there for an outstanding novel but sadly in my opinion it did not quite deliver. You will love this book if you are a younger YA reader, or a reader who desires a quick and easy fantasy read.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this novel.
Publisher: Hodder Stoughton
Publication date: 7 July 2020
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