11 must-read SFF book releases that will kick your July into high gear

The Damned by Renee Ahdieh. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House
The Damned by Renee Ahdieh. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House /
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Girl, Serpent, Thorn – Melissa Bashardoust

What happens when the princess of the fairy tale turns out to be a monster? That’s the question posed by author Melissa Bashardoust’s gorgeously written Girl, Serpent, Thorn, a book shot through with gorgeous imagery and featuring a haunting, magical story.

Soraya has spent most of her life in hiding, thanks to a curse that was laid on her as a child. Because this princess, you see, is poisonous, and her touch is so toxic it can kill anything she comes into contact with. But she chafes under the restrictions of her lonely life, as she’s forced to watch the world – and the lives of her family – pass her by from the roof of her lavish palace prison.

As her brother’s wedding day approaches, Soraya is faced with a difficult choice. A new prisoner – a demon held in the castle dungeons – may have the answers she seeks: About who she is, and how she might break her poisonous curse. But to find out, she’ll have to defy her family and face consequences she never could have imagined.

The official synopsis describes the story as follows.

"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."

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is available on July 7.