Koschei the Deathless is by far by the most interesting and charismatic monster I have ever met, and I can’t help but feel that I was changed more by that meeting than by most of my meetings with fellow humans. In Deathless, Catherynne M. Valente brings traditional Russian folklore together with a frighteningly real portrayal of Russia in 1920-1940. The story that is created is full of monsters, creatures and communist radicals, and it is also achingly poignant.
Writers such as Brockmeier, Mieville and Valente are returning to fantasy for the many ways it can unlock the truth. Perhaps it is a consequence of living in an era of such radical change, but the fantasic seems once again to play a part in expressing the truth of our time.
Stories, unlike people . . . can live again . . . 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.
Romantic and blood-streaked, and infused with magic so real you can feel it on your fingertips - Deathless is beautiful.
Swept away to the icy wastes of the Russian steppes and the frigid streets of Stalinist St Petersburg I felt I'd happened upon a forgotten classic. A spine-tingling mix of magic and darkness, it echoes both The Master and Margarita and Angela Carter's The Company of Wolves. The prose is perfect, the imagery - houses made of living skin, birds that turn into husbands and, oh, so much blood - is spectacular and the story totally absorbing. This book is not just good, it is genuinely extraordinary.
Valente's invention and ambition are extraordinary.
Cat Valente is the Ray Bradbury of her generation.