The Deathless Girls by Kiran Milwood Hargrave

I’m running really quite behind with my reviews, which is wild as we …can’t leave the house. It’s official that I am a procrastinator (which is not news to anyone, truth be told). So, I read this at the start of May, added on as a gift to myself while buying birthday present books.

Quick summary: On the eve of their Divining, the day their future is told, twins Lil and Kizzy are capured and enslaved by a local Boyar, taken away from their beloved traveller community as it burns to the ground. Forced to work in harsh environments, and with very differing opinions on what they should do about their enslavement, Lil is drawn to quiet Mira as Kizzy plots their escape. They learn about the Dragon, a terrifying and mysterious figure of myth and legend, and when he takes one of the girls as a gift, Lil must cross the mountains that were the warnings of her childhood stories to get her sister back.

It’s a beautiful copy! I first noticed this because of the hardcover in Waterstones, drawing me back to it again and again. The paperback is just as gorgeous, and I bought the signed Waterstones exclusive so it has burgundy-pink sprayed edges (and a watermark on the top which seems an illogical place for me to spill water but ok, I have mad skills), Honestly, such a beautiful book!

It was a vampire book, but not really about the vampire himself – its all whispers and differing personalities and sisterhood and love. Before all else, this is two sisters learning to survive in the world, and fighting against all odds to be together. Romance was not the point of the story, it was incidental. It was beautifully written, expressing cultural differences and mysteries and fear and longing and family. It also gets at the precarious position of women, and women with power.

There was a lot of pow packed into this middle grade fiction novel about the wives of Dracula. I really liked the perspective, because it made the reality of Dracula even more mysterious or fearful, hovering on the edge of the narrative but only through whispers and other peoples actions.

Oh, I didn’t know it was queer when I added this to my basket! It makes me so happy that young children will be able to find the representation I struggled to find when I was a little girl. So, lesbian MC. Looking at the goodreads description “who she is drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand” I can’t belived I missed it when picking this up – but that just proved you shouldn’t pick a book up for its cover without at least reading the description properly first.

I really liked this take, I thought it was more interesting than having the twins dumped straight in Dracula’s castle and it was a good “origin” story (I guess it could be called). It was a quick read and if you find yourself with a bit of time and not sure what to read from your TBR, you can’t really go all that wrong with The Deathless Girls.

I hope everyone is staying safe and sane in this time!

Bea

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