I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
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.
I chose to read this book because it was one of the oldest on my TBR list and it was available at the library. Not maybe the most compelling reasons to make a selection, and it seems that I haven’t been in the correct mood to appreciate it.
Catherynne Valente is an excellent writer. I can’t complain about the writing style, or the vocabulary, or anything like that. The fault is mine—I don’t know enough about Russian folk tales to properly appreciate this retelling.
What did I like? The Stalinist house elves. They were awesome!
I spent the whole book feeling like there was something just out of my reach, something that just wasn’t clicking. It also didn’t help that life has been especially busy of late and I haven’t had the usual amount of time to devote to Deathless. Your mileage may vary.