Published by Flatiron Books (7.7.2020)
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: ARC, 336 pages
Source: From Publisher
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.
She had read enough stories to know that the princess and the monster were never the same.
I absolutely adored the Persian culture and lore!! It was such a rich and beautiful world that I wanted to crawl into the pages and live there. I loved reading about the div (demons) too!
I am super pleased with the twist the romance took! It’s hard to talk about anything without spoiling it – I didn’t know much going in and was pleasantly surprised, so I’ll put the rest in spoiler tags! View Spoiler »In the first 80 pages when Soraya met Azad, I was not thrilled. The romance was moving WAY too fast!! I kept hoping that he was secretly the villain, and I about whooped out loud when it was revealed that HE was the Shahmar! That was a nice little twist that I thoroughly enjoyed. The romance reminded me a bit of Girls of Paper and Fire, too. Definitely one of my fave F/F romances! « Hide Spoiler
I love that Soraya fought with her own morality, too. I adore morally gray characters that toe the line so much that they could easily tip over into villain territory. But even though she saw herself as a monster most of the time, she had a good heart. And it was easy to feel for her because she’d been shunned by everyone and lacked love and touch in her life.
Side note: I love how the title is worked into the story!
While this was a lush and beautiful Persian fantasy (there aren’t enough of those!) and I enjoyed the lore, romance, and the villain, it was missing that extra something for me to give it a full five stars. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I don’t think I connected to the story quite as much as I’d hoped to, and I had forgotten key elements to the story fairly quickly (I had to go look back through the book to remember enough to write this review). So it didn’t stick with me, but I thoroughly enjoyed while I was reading and it was a fast paced and beautifully written story! I definitely recommend!
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5