Friday 20 September 2019

THE DEATHLESS GIRLS by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness - they must sate it. Even with their own kin. 

On the eve of her divining, the day she'll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community. 

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn't understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts. 

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate... 

Earlier this year, I read and absolutely LOVED Bram Stoker's Dracula. There were many things I enjoyed about this classic, but I was especially intrigued by the Brides of Dracula. I found them fascinating and wanted to know more. IMO, they just didn't get enough page time.

So, when I found out this book featured the Brides, of course I wanted to read it.

Lil and Kizzy are twin sisters who enjoy their peaceful and free lives as Travellers. But on the eve of their divining--when they'll have their futures read by the camp's Seer--their group is attacked by soldiers.

All the kids are taken to Boyar Valcar's castle, where their lives and dignity are stolen away. The twins are forced into a life of slavery in the castle's kitchen.

They might have taken their freedom, but they can't stop their thoughts or determination. They won't take their ability to love, and will never break their sisterly bond...

Wow. The first two chapters of this book are heavy. They really got me! Everything starts out lovely and serene, in a wonderful place that shows just how close the twins are to each other and nature, how peaceful their lives are, and how much they love everyone around them.

Then it burns all that happiness to the ground. 😞

After that, I couldn't put this book down. I knew I was going to love it. Lil's voice is strong and kind. She's selfless and determined to stay calm for her sister. Yet, she doesn't see any of that, doesn't realise her own strength in the face of adversity.

All of the characters in this story shine. Asides from Lil, my other favourites were Mira and Fen. Both tough in their own way and devoted to the ones they love. Hell, even the horrible ones leap off the page. They made me so angry and frustrated, I couldn't wait for them to pay. LOL.

For an origin story about the creepy vampire women living in Dracula's castle, there's a melancholy innocence throughout this tale of heartbreak and sisterhood. All Lil and Kizzy ever wanted was to find their own place in the world and be left alone, but find themselves fighting off constant unwanted attention.

I also have to mention how well the sense of location is portayed in this book. I could feel everywhere the characters went. From the overdone wealthy castles to the derelict villages, and especially the Traveller's connection to the land.

The Deathless Girls is an intriguing re-imagining about the girls who became the Brides of Dracula. It's beautifully written, dripping with atmosphere, and hooked me instantly. As the story slowly unravels and the stakes (pardon the pun) are heightened, I lost myself in the dangerous and violent world.

Although I already knew where this would end up, I still enjoyed getting there. I loved every minute of it.

Also, the cover is so pretty. The little details all represent something important in the story. Very nice!

The Deathless Girls, September 2019, ISBN 9781510106918, Orion Children's Books

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