Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Breathtaking, quintessential Valente, making what might be a fairy tale into a gorgeously Russian love story between one unlucky girl stuck perpetually in the space of an hour who never got to marry the birds and the God of Life.
Of course, it never ends well, because she's conscripted into his eternal battle with Viy, Death, and regrets it, while simultaneously mastering Life in the middle of Leningrad during WWII, which ought to be considered one of the worst moments in human history.
Do we love life? Is he capricious and cruel and uncompromising and sweet? Is he locked in the basement and forced to listen to his wife make love to a mortal man? After that, can he still be true?
I cannot do this justice. Our heroine cannot fully commit to Life, and finally betrays him.
For all the truly magical qualities of this novel, the beautiful writing, the amazing mini-tales, I'm left in a state of profound sadness while being amazed at the sheer beauty of the tale.
It's raw, right down to the core, and horrific, sexy, full of the seeds of hope and longing and everything that makes the world so complicated and scary and wonderful all at once.
I sit in awe.
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