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Deathless Hardcover – 1 Nov 2012


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Frequently Bought Together

Deathless + The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making + The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Corsair (1 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780338465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780338460
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 3.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 479,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Romantic and blood-streaked, and infused with magic so real you can feel it on your fingertips - Deathless is beautiful. (Cory Doctorow)

Valente's invention and ambition are extraordinary. (The Times)

Swept away to the icy wastes of the Russian steppes and the frigid streets of Stalinist St Petersburg

I felt I'd happened upon a forgotten classic. A spine-tingling mix of magic and darkness, it echoes both

The Master and Margarita and Angela Carter's The Company of Wolves. The prose is perfect,

the imagery - houses made of living skin, birds that turn into husbands and, oh, so much blood - is

spectacular and the story totally absorbing. This book is not just good, it is genuinely extraordinary.

(Laura Kelly Big Issue)

Writers such as Brockmeier, Mieville and Valente are returning to fantasy for the many ways it can unlock the truth. Perhaps it is a consequence of living in an era of such radical change, but the fantasic seems once again to play a part in expressing the truth of our time. (Guardian)

Stories, unlike people . . . can live again . . . 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)

Cat Valente is the Ray Bradbury of her generation. (Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians)

Book Description

A glorious retelling of the Russian folktale Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless, set in a mysterious version of St. Petersburg during the first half of the 20th century.

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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Niall Alexander on 17 Jun 2011
Format: Hardcover
Deathless is the latest from Catherynne M. Valente, and so, of course, it is a delight.

Having cast brilliant new light on One Thousand and One Nights in her two-volume opus The Orphan's Tales, and in The Habitation of the Blessed made a lurid and lyrical fantasy of the legends of 12th century Christian champion Prester John, Deathless sees Valente set her inimitable sights on Slavic folklore, with suitably stunning results. It begins:

"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." (p.15)

The child is Marya Morevna, here recast as a precocious young girl who whiles away her days dreaming of a husband, and better, brighter things. As well she should, for there are innumerable trials ahead: dark and troubling times for her city, for her family, and not least of all for Marya herself. However "the world is ordered in such a way that birds may be expected to turn into husbands at a moment's notice and no one may comment upon it at all," (p.23) so when "a great, hoary old black owl" (p.54) appears at the door of the long, thin house on the long, thin street as "a handsome young man in a handsome black coat, his dark hair curly and thick, flecked with silver, his mouth half-smiling, as if anticipating a terribly sweet thing," (p.55) and when that man asks after the hand of the girl who watches all from the long, thin window above, Marya's fate is sealed, and her dreams made real.

So it is that Marya comes to wed Koschei the Deathless, the Tsar of Life, who cannot die. "Fiendishly convenient things, wives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelly on 25 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book based on two things, firstly the author who also wrote The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (which I love) and secondly the title, which hooked me instantly.

I had no expectations of Deathless as I didn't read the blurb, but I was instantly captivated and downloaded the full book as soon as I reached the end of the sample on my kindle. Simply put I loved it, I know it will stay with me for a long time.

This book skirts the edges of fairy tales, folklore and myth for an adult audience (definitely not for children!) for all us grown ups who still have favourite stories as well as favourite books.

The central theme looks at the battle between life and death, and subsequently the inherent battle between good and evil.

Overall, a great central story underpinned by a thought provoking backdrop which has really pricked my interest in Russian folklore and legends as well as it's history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SallySalisbury on 27 July 2012
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most moving, incredible, clever, touching, dark, perfect piece of brilliance ever written, I honestly do not have enough superlatives to describe it. Valente seamlessly mixes folklore and history to create a stunning novel. Read it and you won't be disappointed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada on 19 Nov 2012
Format: Hardcover
Earlier this year, I cut my Valente-teeth novel-wise on The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I fell completely in love with her writing and in the months since I've listened to two of her short stories on EscapePod and PodCastle, which were every bit as good and rich as The Girl Who... was. As I'm also quite fond of fairytale retellings, Deathless seemed a story I couldn't help but love. And seeming was truth, as Deathless was a stunning tale, which will stay with me for a while.

There will be mentions of elements of the story that might be considered spoilers for those unfamiliar with the Koschei mythos, so if you do not want to be spoiled please either skip ahead to the last paragraph of this review or click away!

The story is a wonderful retelling of The Death of Koschei the Deathless set in Russia in the first half of the twentieth century. It is a gorgeous mix of myth and history, mixing in several other Russian folk tales and all the political upheaval and cultural change Russia was embroiled in during the first fifty years of the twentieth century. I loved the metaphor of the colours of the birds and the uniforms they change into when they come for Marya's sisters, each mirroring the next step in Russia's revolution, it is an elegant way of alluding to the rapid political changes without giving a history lecture, but for those familiar with it, it's perfectly clear what is happening.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an avid reader I enjoyed this book as a dark fairytale, but began to find some of the themes and images extremely overdone by half way through. Numeric patterns were not so much evident as a brick in the face (3 sisters/3 callers/three chums/etc.etc.) as was black, white and red imagary. I don't mind the reader being led, but repeating themes, colours, images, over and over again lessens their impact eventually and you feel like saying "yes, I get it already". Having said that, the writer had a strong command and understanding of folklore and managed to weave it to reflect her historical viewpoint, without having to get into the discipline or danger of too much actual historical research or commentary. I felt the book started well, but I was left somewhat disappointed ultimately and it wouldn't encourage me to buy more from this author.
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