Elizabeth's Reviews > Deathless

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
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Feb 02, 12

bookshelves: compelling-protagonist, moral-conflict, fantastical-tale, out-of-this-world, supernatural, suspense, romance, thrilling, historical-fiction
Recommended for: Adults who read literature and love to revisit myth
Read from January 30 to February 02, 2012, read count: 1

I don't know that I'll be able to read this book again, because it was harsh and brutal and lush and terrible all at once. It made my mind hurt to read it once because of its complexity, endlessly folded stories, and references to characters I remember from reading myths. But it was incomparable, one of the best stories from a myth I have ever read. I appreciated Baba Yaga's reference to the tale of the golden firebird (the one where Ivan and Yelena have a wolf), as it reminded me of a book I read tirelessly as a child. Its portrait of marriage was endlessly fascinating. Its setting was breathtaking, whether it was death, or the village between worlds, or Buyan, the domain of the deathless. Little allusions rather than garish description and prose that almost sailed instead of being written made it seem to go so fast I lost track of time.
Someone remarked that the characters were unlikeable and thus real, but their flaws made me feel unusually fond of them (except for Ivan sometimes) because I felt they were people--albeit strange, alien people--that could have really lived but were deprived of it because they were born in a book.
Koschei was an amazingly drawn character, allegorical and sensual, cold and cruel at the same time.
My only complaint about the book was that towards the end I felt like there were too many endings. Though none of them were actually endings, the story began to feel nested like a Russian doll and I had trouble following. An amazing read for the mature reader.
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