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Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
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Deathless (edition 2012)

by Catherynne M. Valente

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5753717,226 (4.04)67
Member:dom_oh
Title:Deathless
Authors:Catherynne M. Valente
Info:Tor Books (2012), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Read 2012, Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
I usually don't enjoy the stories of reworked or recombined fairytales all that much--often they feel somewhat contrived, like there's components shoved in just because they're supposed to be there. But here, though I did recognize quite a lot of characters and plots from various Russian fairytales (as luck would have it, turns out that I'd just read a bunch of 'em, though I didn't realize on starting this book that it was based on folklore)--the story was still very much its own thing, the characters seeming to belong wholly to the world created in this book, rather than just a bunch of people thrown into a series of stitched-together scenes. Honestly, though it's always wonderful to feel that recognition when one comes upon a familiar detail or idea, I think this book would be equally enjoyable to someone who wasn't well-versed in fairy tales. This story has a life of its own. ( )
  -sunny- | Jul 15, 2014 |
I usually don't enjoy the stories of reworked or recombined fairytales all that much--often they feel somewhat contrived, like there's components shoved in just because they're supposed to be there. But here, though I did recognize quite a lot of characters and plots from various Russian fairytales (as luck would have it, turns out that I'd just read a bunch of 'em, though I didn't realize on starting this book that it was based on folklore)--the story was still very much its own thing, the characters seeming to belong wholly to the world created in this book, rather than just a bunch of people thrown into a series of stitched-together scenes. Honestly, though it's always wonderful to feel that recognition when one comes upon a familiar detail or idea, I think this book would be equally enjoyable to someone who wasn't well-versed in fairy tales. This story has a life of its own. ( )
  -sunny- | Jul 15, 2014 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2288244.html

Didn't quite work for me, I'm afraid. Heartfelt and detailed evocation of Russian legends and how they might have played out for real in the early years of Stalinism, and I picked up amusing references to those excellent books The Twelve Chairs and The Master and Margarita, but I didn't care about the characters very much. Obviously appeals to a lot of people so I'm in a minority here. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | May 16, 2014 |
Deathless is beautifully written, meticulously constructed and symbolically rich- yet, ultimately disappointing. While wonderfully crafted, the novel lacks heart. After 349 pages, the characters are still strangers, interesting to observe, but for whom the reader has no true connection. The characters are flat, like those in a fairytale. Their wants, needs, and dreams are never revealed to the reader, and, despite the long time span covered by this book, no one ever changes or grows. The weak characters can almost be excused for the lovely prose and raw, earthy Russian setting, yet ultimately I just didn't like this book.

C ( )
  ashleynicole1030 | May 5, 2014 |
An ambitious novel that weaves traditional Russian folk lore amid Russia’s turbulent history between 1930-1940. A girl becomes the bride of an immortal entity that rules a dark macabre realm and realizes she is repeating a story that has been played out many times before.

Deathless has poetic prose and the cadence of a classic legend. I felt the story had a deeper meaning that I wasn't quite able to grasp because of my limited knowledge of Russian culture, history and folk lore. There are recurring themes and philosophies about life, death, love, loss, and war that makes the story hauntingly beautiful. I enjoyed how the author interwove and reinterpreted creatures, entities, and stories from Russian folk lore and mythology. I also appreciated the respect and diligence the author undertook in providing a credible story from a different nationality. I found the overall story to be incredibly sad, my soul aches and I’m sure it won’t leave my thoughts anytime soon. ( )
  eloquent_codex | Apr 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Another intricate fantasy from Valente, based on what feels like the entire panoply of Russian folktales. ...scenes, people, myths and history intertwine. It's dazzling but intensely self-involved.
added by melonbrawl | editKirkus Reviews (Feb 1, 2011)
 
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Epigraph
From the year nineteen forty
I look out on everything as if from a high tower
As if bidding farewell
To that from which I long ago parted.
As if crossing myself
And descending beneath dark arches.
—Anna Akhmatova
Dedication
For Dmitri,
who spirited me away from a dark place
First words
Woodsmoke hung heavy and golden on the shorn wheat, the earth bristling like an old, bald woman.
Quotations
In a city by the sea which was once called St. Petersburg, then Petrograd, then Leningrad, then, much later, St. Petersburg again, there stood a long, thin house on a long, thin street. By a long, thin window, a child in a pale blue dress and pale green slippers waited for a bird to marry her.
“That's how you get deathless, volchitsa. Walk the same tale over and over, until you wear a groove in the world, until even if you vanished, the tale would keep turning, keep playing, like a phonograph, and you'd have to get up again, even with a bullet through your eye, to play your part and say your lines.”
The rapt pupil will be forgiven for assuming the Tsar of Death to be wicked and the Tsar of Life to be virtuous. Let the truth be told: There is no virtue anywhere. Life is sly and unscrupulous, a blackguard, wolfish, severe. In service to itself, it will commit any offence. So, too, is Death possessed of infinite strategies and a gaunt nature- but also mercy, also grace and tenderness. In his own country, Death can be kind.
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Set in an alternate version of St. Petersburg in the first half of the twentieth century, Marya Morevna, a clever child of the revolution, is transformed into the beautiful bride of Koschei the Deathless, a menacing overlord.

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