Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Deathless GirlsThe Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I heard this would be a fleshing out of the so-called "brides" of Dracula written as a YA, I was worried that it would devolve into something a little less dark than what it really came to be.

Thank goodness, right?

There is a rather powerful trend to make vampires less... scary... these days, and building a mystique that lets us approve of these "brides" makes me feel some unease. Fortunately, the core of THIS tale is the brutality of being used and abused on the outskirts of accepted civilization, being a Traveler - or rather, a gypsy - and feeling truly powerless to hold on to your own fate. Rather appropriate. And the love between these two sisters feels very real, too.

The tragedy and subsequent adventure and additional tragedies are not particularly YA but the darkness might have had a bit more depth in general. Bad people were everywhere and only the slaves had redeeming qualities. Maybe that's appropriate for such a short novel and it was nonetheless enjoyable all the way to the end, but I did feel that the finale was RATHER rushed. It doesn't sit all that well with me. Yes, we know that these poor kids were ill-used and I can see why they'd crave power, but all we really get is a hard life and then a fait accompli without hardly any convincing, cajoling, manipulation, or struggle. A million other vampire tales live and breathe (or die) on that premise.

Should I judge this by the best aspects of all those other tales? Is that fair? I don't know, but I'm trusting my gut on this one. The book could have been longer to fit in a much more courageous and interesting end.

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