Book Review: Deathless by Catherine Valente

The last few years, I have stopped forcing myself to read books I am no interested in. I used to be a “finisher” – someone who would finish reading a book no matter what. But you know what I realized? Life is too short to read things you don’t want to read.

And so, you might notice that my Goodreads is full of books I gave 4 and 5 stars. This is not because I enjoy every book I read or do not discriminate between mediocre books and good books – this is because every book I finish MUST be good in order for me to finish it. I am a snooty, snobby reader and I will not finish a book that isn’t up to my standards.

I must not read many books, you think! Not true. I read a lot of books – I finish many of them, and I review the ones I adore.

I adored Deathless. “Adored” isn’t even the right word. I obsessed over it, became addicted to it, fell into it and am still climbing back out, weeks later.

deathlessDeathless is what Catherine Valente calls “Mythpunk”. It’s a term she coined, and I can think of no better. Most of my favorite books are what would be considered mythpunk – in a nutshell, myths retold in a post modern setting or fantasy setting. I would consider Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to be mythpunk.

So, Deathless is a retelling of the tales of Koschei the Deathless, a figure in Russian folklore, from the point of view of Maria Morevna, the woman who finally defeated him in the Russian tale. The story takes place during the Stalin era of Russia, ending during the Siege of Leningrad (now known as St. Petersburg).

It is heartbreaking, tough to get through in places, overwhelming. And the lyrical writing will twist your gut, and you will understand it even if you don’t realize it. To sum up, this book is flipping awesome. So you should probably read it.

Done and done.

5 Responses to “Book Review: Deathless by Catherine Valente”
  1. Great review. I’m the same way with reading. I give the author 50-100 pages of leeway in the middle.

  2. Dave says:

    Wow. I have no idea whether I should read this or not, but you certainly make it difficult to turn down 🙂 I just read the first several pages over on Amazon and found them intriguing. I need to add this to my growing list of “to read” books.

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