“That's how you get deathless, volchitsa. Walk the same tale over and over, until you wear a groove in the world, until even if you vanished, the tale would keep turning, keep playing, like a phonograph, and you'd have to get up again, even with a bullet through your eye, to play your part and say your lines.” Enter a hidden world of myth & mystery, where creatures from Russian folklore navigate the treacherous world of 1930s & 40s Leningrad. A war between the Tsar of Death and Tsar of Life, brothers and enemies since time immemorial, infiltrates the life of young Marya Morevna, who discovers that she has walked this road before many times, and is fated to repeat it endlessly. With prose that entrances and haunts you in turn, Catherynne M. Valente's Deathless investigates war, love, the struggle for identity in a world filled with chaos and violence, and the power of the stories we tell over & over again.— From Kylie's Staff Picks
In a masterful retelling of Koschei the Deathless, a fairytale like a Russian Hades and Persephone, Catherynne M. Valente weaves a story that is both familiar down to its bones and unlike anything else. Deathless will leave you entrenched in its magic, entwined in its labyrinthine, breathtaking prose & ghostly sense of déjà vu. One of the most beautiful books I have ever read and one of my favorites of all time, It is in short spellbinding, heartbreaking, and still has a hold on me.— From KelleyAnn Staff Picks
A glorious retelling of the Russian folktale Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless from Catherynne M. Valente, set in a mysterious version of St. Petersburg during the first half of the 20th century
Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.
Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei's beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.
Catherynne M. Valente, the acclaimed author of many books for adults, made her children’s book debut with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her husband.
“For fans of Neil Gaiman, Gregory Maguire, and the like, this is essential.” —Library Journal, starred review
“Romantic and blood-streaked, and infused with magic so real you can feel it on your fingertips—Deathless is beautiful.” —Cory Doctorow, bestselling author of Little Brother
“Stories, unlike people, don't stay dead forever, or not always. They can live again—but only under very special circumstances. 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, bestselling author of The Magicians, on Ventriloquism