Do you have a favorite book you read over and over?
I do, in-fact several, Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente is one of them. Deathless was recommended to me by my friend Roshani a few years ago. Since then, Deathless has become one of my favorite wintery re-reads.
Russian folk tales, in general, are woven with the darkest threads of magic. Deathless is no exception. The story begins with following a young girl, named Marya Morevna, who can see the unseen. Birds appear in a tree outside her bedroom window only to crash to the ground and oddly turn into men. One by one, the men knock on the door of the Morevna household to ask for each of her sisters’ hands in marriage.
Years later, a handsome man arrives in St. Petersburg at the house of Marya Morevna to ask for her hand. The man is Koschei the Tsar of Life. He takes Marya away to a land that mirrors 20th century Russia. Marya is linked between the real world and Koschei’s magical realm where he is, unfortunately, always at war.
I don’t know how Valente does it, but every time I read Deathless I imagine everything in greyscale. Her beautiful imagery is as rich as the foods described at Koschei’s table—an excellent reason to have a bottle of Luc Belaire Gold on hand and perhaps Russian Osetra Caviar too, go ahead and splurge! As you read Deathless you’ll thank me later for the suggestion. Koschei prepares the most exquisite dinners for Marya all. the. time. So, have your snacks ready before you open Deathless!
Do you enjoy reading Russian folklore?