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Deathless Paperback – February 14, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“For fans of Neil Gaiman, Gregory Maguire, and the like, this is essential.” ―Library Journal, starred review
“Romantic and blood-streaked, and infused with magic so real you can feel it on your fingertips―Deathless is beautiful.” ―Cory Doctorow, bestselling author of Little Brother
“Stories, unlike people, don't stay dead forever, or not always. They can live again―but only under very special circumstances. They must be revived by the miraculous touch of a very rare class of being, a kind of multi-classed genius/scholar/saint, who can restore them to life. Catherynne Valente is such a being.” ―Lev Grossman, bestselling author of The Magicians, on Ventriloquism
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Top Customer Reviews
If I weren't familiar with the source material, I would be more awed by the strangeness of Valente's work and the striking images she presents -- a world of eggs, feathers, huts with chicken legs, galloping pestles, magical villages, and house spirits. Valente casts these elements into beautiful English prose, but they are not her inventions. The banya ritual, with its bizarre lashing by birch branches, is a beloved Russian pastime, typically enjoyed with alcohol and picked victuals. Baba Yaga, Koschei the Deathless, firebirds and mustard plasters (and even the main character, Marya Morevna) are all part of the Russian folk tradition. And if I had absorbed the source material through a lifetime of culture, rather than a few book and college courses and weeks abroad, I could better appreciate Valente's inversions, re-castings, and transformations. Deathless is a catalog of Russian folk lore stitched into a novel.
The overall plot is impelled by the demands of the fairy tale, not the motivations of the characters, inevitability without agency.Read more ›
The story isn't depressing, far from it. This book is darkly humorous, and wrenchingly beautiful. (I cry every time I reread Chapter 23 (p 271-284)) It is bitter sweet, and hopeful, and romantic, and epic - and very intimate at the same time. I loved the ending, both to the romance and the fairytale. Catherynne Valente did an amazing job here. She captures the feel, sound, texture of Russian folklore perfectly, and taps into the culture, history, politics and humor (think Bulgakov), the Russian "soul" exceptionally well. (I am Russian, for a disclaimer.) The prose is more restrained than in "Palimpsest," it's clear and simple, like a teardrop. Ah, there is so much to love here.
It's a complex, layered tale that will reward a careful reader; it will carry you off into a different land and make you live the fairytale and wish for the history to have a similar ending.Read more ›
Speaking of which, the story between Marya Morevna and Koschei is epic, for lack of a better term. It spans wars, and famines, and feasts, which are all things to behold in and of themselves, while still following the tragic tale that Koschei cannot keep himself from re-starting again and again. This time it is set in 1920's-1950's Russia, with the political philosophy of that time adding a particular note to the soup of the story, flavoring everything in sometimes very strong, sometimes very subtle ways. Valente did her research well, and I find myself very interested in reading a history of that period, so compelling a background did it form in this novel.
The relationships that stand upon it are no less compelling either. There are friendships, and marriages, and families upon families, but the focus is on the marriage of Marya and Koschei. Valente does not flinch, and shows both the sacrifices that one person will make for another, and the deep, wrenching wounds that one person will inflict on another. Love is a war in and of itself, difficult to start, and perhaps impossible to end. It is a pain that, as a reader, I came to love to hate to love.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed every word of this novel. The subject matter is bizarre, but it mostly worked for me. The writing is superb.Published 15 days ago by Spubba
A great story of love, myth and the Russian revolution. Hard to follow at times, but well worth the read. A knowledge of 20th century Russian history helps.Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
Young Marya waits for her husband to come to her: Koschei the Deathless, who will abduct her into his fairy tale set in World War II and the Siege of Leningrad. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Juushika
Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless is a retelling of the Russian fairy tale The Death of Koschei the Deathless. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense
Loved this book until about 3/4 of the way through. Narrative got weird and I couldn't find myself caring about the story with all the conceptual changes in the last few chapters.Published 3 months ago by Lauren
I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read any Valente (outside of the occasional short story) until I picked up Deathless. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Voted Quimby
I read this book in 12 hours. I would have read it in a lot less time had I not needed to sleep. Gripping, powerful, and well-written, this book really kept me on the edge of my... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Nicki White
I highly recommend it! Beautiful writing & excellent use of imagery.Published 5 months ago by Chloe S.
The writing was gorgeous, and the research was stellar. In fact, I got the feeling that the author research it so well that she forgot that not all of her readers will actually... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Lulu