Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Deathless by Catherine M. Valente

 I can't recall who recommended Valente to me, but I had her on my to-read list for a while before I put Deathless on hold at the library. The story begins well, a charming tale about a young girl, Marya Morevna in post-Revolutionary Soviet Russia, who lives in a house with her formerly bourgeois parents and finds herself perceiving things around her a bit  differently from others. She sees birds dropping from the sky and becoming her sisters' husbands, and after the authorities force more families to live in the house (we can't have a single family using a big house that belongs to the People, you know) she discovers the hidden realm of  house goblins - domovoi - who have come along with the families to stay in the house, as well.

After a bit, though, the whole story takes a darker turn, and Marya is claimed as the bride of Koschei, the Deathless. He treats her to his psychotic brand of love and cruelty, and takes her away to the forest to live in a dacha with his servants. Marya becomes a bullying and vapid, well...witch is the kindest term, and I lost any feelings of affection I had for the character, and had to push myself to pick the book up again to read further. Gave up before I reached 100 pages. Maybe I'm missing a great turnaround and redemption, but the things that made the story charming and fun were gone, and life is short.

Read at your own risk.

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