Thank you to netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
This story had me hooked from the beginning, there is so much intrigue and questions that make you just want to read one more chapter. I loved that the world was inspired by Persian culture and we are fully immersed into the culture from the clothes and food to the traditions. I really loved the world that the author created!
The most interesting thing about the book though is the characters. They are all morally grey and all of them make bad choices which has big consequences. I really loved that you can never tell who was good and bad because you can see why each of the characters make the choices they do and how they justify it and you want to root for each of them.
I really loved Soraya, she has poison in her veins and is twin to Sorush who is the Shah of Golvahar. We follow Soraya’s story and how she feels imprisoned because she is so deadly and has to live a life of isolation, hidden away in a corner of the palace while her brother rules and can live a normal life. She isn’t a damsel though waiting for someone to rescue her, she decides that she will free herself and though she doesn’t always make the best decision, she does not let anyone else to dictate her life and her choices and I loved that about her.
When we meet Azad, he is kind and caring and sees Soraya as someone more than a dangerous, deadly girl. This is what initially drew Soraya to him and their relationship was really interesting throughout the book. I also really like Parvenah who is also complicated and makes bad decisions which causes lasting consequences not only for herself but causes pain for her family too. She also works to right her bad decisions like Soraya and I liked how their relationship developed.
There were definitely points in the story where I wanted to tell Soraya to go to the dark side! Be the powerful dark queen she should be! But at the same time I don’t think Soraya truly has it in her to manipulate and hurt those she loved and cared for. It was more that she wanted to belong and not be a social pariah because of poisonous touch.
This is a story of people who make bad decisions but it is the way they handle the consequences that determine who they become. It was really interesting to see how different their lives turn out because of the decisions they make and how different they could be if they had chosen differently.