Hello Humans! Today I’ll be reviewing a book that I’ve been seeing all over Instagram and Twitter because, quite frankly, it is absolutely stunning. I am talking, of course, about Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Deathless Girls. Kiran has consistently brought out beautiful books – but, to quote Mary Poppins Returns ‘A cover is nice but a cover is not the book’. So how did this vampyric re-imagining go?
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…
I went into this with fairly levelled expectations. I had skipped The Way Past Winter, but I read The Girl of Ink and Stars quite a long time ago and remembered liking everything except the ending. But this book promised vampires and that inkling of perhaps something a bit gay had me tempted.
I definitely enjoyed most of this book. I thought the writing was absolutely beautiful. There are a lot of different settings within this book from the forest to old terrifying castles and every single one of them was gorgeously described. It’s hugely evocative writing and that I can’t deny.
I also thought this book captured the ‘falling for someone without realising it’ storyline really beautifully. You all know I’m *always* here for a queer romance and while this wasn’t perfect (I’m coming to that) it was lovely to see.
I obviously can’t speak to how respectful this depiction of travellers is, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for an ownvoices review of that. To me, it didn’t feel overly sensationalising?
This book was great.
Until the ending.
It was exactly the same problem as I had with The Girl of Ink and Stars, there’s this gorgeous build-up with all this lovely writing and then the ending totally flops!
It’s very rare that I’d say ‘I liked this book up until the part with the vampires’?
What bothered me about this ending was, firstly that it [in a way] buries the gays – it made the entire romance plotline up until that point essentially meaningless which was about as irritating as the ‘it was all a dream’ ending. I was left flat and cross and I wasn’t best pleased.
In addition, if you’re making this book because you want to give a story and a voice to the three nameless women in Dracula I’m all here for it. But to then throw the third woman in at the last minute with zero backstories…you haven’t achieved your aim! Also, the idea of giving women a chance to seize their own fate doesn’t really work if they aren’t sure if they consented or not!
Overall, I thought this book was alright. It was so frustrating to not have a good ending when the first 80% of the book had such promise. I can’t tell whether making the book longer would have helped, or if there was a way to fix the ending as it was? I honestly don’t know.
This book is beautiful it cannot be denied but, at least in my opinion, Kiran Millwood Hargrave needs to stick a landing.
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
The Deathless Girls is available now
What say you? Am I missing something? Let me know in the comments below!