Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Deathless

If you are partial to fairy tales that are dark and slightly twisted then Deathless may be up your alley. I have a fondness for the Slavic deities Marzanna and Chernobog due to nerdy reasons I won't get into on here. A friend knows of this and when she discovered this book, told me about it. It looked interesting so I downloaded it on my Kindle and added it to my "soon to read" list. 

When I did begin to read the book I was immediately mesmerized by it from the very first paragraph. The description was so strong that I could smell the woodsmoke, see the bare apple trees, and feel the autumn breeze. But it got better after that, I was plunged into this entire world of creatures I had never heard much of and a few only occasionally on TV shows. Baba Yaga I've heard a ton about but the other creatures, spirits and demons... not so much.

But that didn't matter. I was head over heels into this story and sinking fast. But I didn't fight off the clutches of this book, I wanted more. And yet... yet it was something special and while I typically will read a book just about anywhere that was not the case with Deathless. I had to read it somewhere special and that's just what I did. I took it to a garden, rich with color and life that seemed not quite as gloomy as where the characters lived in the book. I took it to a sculpture garden and read it there, then inside a museum, then (and my most favorite location) my bed next to the open window. 

This is a book like the gritty fairy tales that I remember as a kid. The ones that aren't all that nice when you come to think of it but as a child you may be frightened or just oblivious to how cruel the creatures in the story can be. As an adult, and this is an adult book mind you, you see all the cruelties these creatures can create. They don't live by our morals or rules and it makes for a damn good story.

Marya Morevna, the girl in the window who watches the bird, is innocent, smart, and generally sweet when Koschei the Deathless comes to take her for his bride. She, who has always seen the "naked world" and wondered of it's splendor and magic, is eager and excited. Here is her chance to escape her home and be taken away! Still, things are never so simple or easy. 

Koschei is cruel and demanding but despite all of this he slowly falls into the grasp and power of Marya. This is truly felt when Marya returns home, taking his destruction with it. Every moment in this book you are being twisted and turned and spun around. If you don't pay enough attention, it's very easy to get lost. 

It's written in the style of most fairy tales as I said but it should be noted about the repetition of different scenes which are commonly used. Never assume something will happen because the other options are unbelievable; everything is possible in this world. Now, I know next to nothing about Slavic deities and demons and Russian folktales so this book could be very far off from what it's meant to be interpreted from. But after browsing around for reviews it seems that the few people who do seem knowledgeable of these stories are quite impressed with this book.

When I buy a book for my Kindle I will typically read it and even if I love it, stash it away in my "read" file and move on. With Deathless I actually went to Amazon and bought myself a printed copy. I wanted it for myself, to cherish and hold and read. This way I can lay in bed with the book and enjoy it at home but I can always go to the Kindle version and mark up the multiple quotes I find so beautiful. I'm not huge on the highlighting tool on my Kindle but I just couldn't stop with this book. 

A skeleton, always, embraced her first, and then remembered to be a man.

How beautiful is that? Aside from completely falling in love with this book and wanting to read it again and again, the author has impressed me and I fully intend on trying her other books. I just feel that in the case of Deathless it may very well become one of my favorite books and only another powerful read will be able to remove it from that place. 
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