3 November 2014

Mini Review: Deathless - Catherynne M. Valente

Deathless is based on Russian folklore detailing the life of Marya Morevna, the wife of the Tsar of Life, Koschei. The story follows Marya as the protagonist, where as a child she waits for a bird to marry her, and through her challenges as she is abducted and taken to the Tsar's kingdom, where she is given difficult tasks by Baba Yaga, all the way through to the end of the war between life and death.

The Good:
  • The russian folklore ties in beautifully with the events preceeding the first world war, and if you know your history, you may find a few familiar faces there.
  • Strange magic and very dark, reminiscent of Grimm's tales rather than the cutesy things we see today.
  • A fairytale for adults which has a rather bittersweet ending, makes you want to read the original stories.
  • Stunning descriptions
  • Excellent characterisation of Marya, Koshei, Baba Yaga and a couple of Marya's demonic friends.
The Bad: 
  • I didn't invest in too many of the characters and did not like hte inclusion of Ivan, even if he was integral to the story
  • Confusing at times as the timeline jumps around during the beginning and end, not telling you where you are sometimes.
  • The end did get a little bit boring and nonsensical.
This is a nice book and a very interesting one, however, it was a little bit long and did drag slightly in places where there was next to no action. The whole story, while I liked the magical elements and the adult aspect of it, was dark and didn't capture me the way other dark fairytales have.