is a book that denies easy classification into a genre. At first glance it's a fairytale fantasy. At a second its a historical fiction novel with fantasy elements. At another look it perhaps could be suggested to be a magical realism novel. All in all Deathless
was a bizarre, quirky and fascinating novel to read. Deathless
, I have been told by a reliable source
, is based on Russian mythology and fairytales - their folklore. I heard elsewhere before reading that Valente had embraced Russian-ness in a way that was near unbelievable. If I hadn't read elsewhere and knew about the author I might have found myself considering a Russian background but apparently this is simply the work of a passionate, intelligent, researching writer. I think that makes it more impressive to me.
Sadly my knowledge of Russian culture is limited to a brief understanding of their recent history (the Russian Revolution and the reigns of Lenin and Stalin and up to the reign of Gorbachev and the end of the U.S.S.R). Even then my knowledge lacks greatly, with the rest of what I know sadly limited to the few Russian works I have read* such as Chekhov...and well mainly Chekhov and a little of the short stories of Tolstoy. However I feel that this novel with its story about Koschei the Deathless and his bride, Marya Morevna, has inspired me to want to discover a little more of the folklore of those lands I know less of.
In short, a beautifully written novel full of passionate pathos. This is a novel about the contrasts between life and death, fantasy and reality; it is a novel about history, society and about people. This is also a powerful novel, like a cross between [b:The Book Thief|19063|The Book Thief|Markus Zusak|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1352395325s/19063.jpg|878368]'s style and the fantasy elements of [b:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|14201|Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|Susanna Clarke|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327945902s/14201.jpg|3921305]. I highly recommend it for all mature readers to enjoy. There was plenty of allegorical or metaphorical elements I believe that I may not have understood but I enjoyed this novel emotionally, logically and from a literary perspective. I warn that it is not your typical novel but it is very, very good.
*I've determined to read more Russian/European authors next year or authors whose works were translated