Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Publication date: 19th September 2019
Genre: retelling, fantasy, paranormal
I won a copy of this book from Team Bkmrk at YALC. All of these opinions are my own and are not influenced by winning an ARC of this book in any way. I would like to thank Orion and of course the author, Kiran Millwood Hargrave for the copy of this book.
*Trigger warnings: Animal deaths, racial slurs, attempted rape, blood and murder*
Gothic, intoxicating, feminist, darkly provoking and deeply romantic – this is the breathtakingly imagined untold story of the brides of Dracula, by bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave in her much-anticipated YA debut.
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…
Overall opinion of the book:
This is a book I’ve been anticipating reading since I heard about it. Dracula is my favourite classic and I love anything to do with Vampires, yes I’m never getting over this phase – okay! I was absolutely over the moon when I won an ARC of The Deathless Girls at YALC and I was itching to read it instantly.
The only trouble with looking forward to a book so much and anticipating what it will be like, is that sometimes we over imagine what it will be like, which I think is what I did with this book. I instantly expected I was going to love every aspect of it and it would be a 5 star read. While I did enjoy it, it didn’t quite live up to the expectations I had of it. I don’t fully know what these expectations were, but the story didn’t play out how I imagined it to. It was still extremely interesting and I like the authors take on “Dracula’s Brides”, but it wasn’t quite the story I invisioned.
I loved the magic/witchcraft and gothic atmosphere that carried throughout the book and how this linked to the travellers and the twins. It mirrors the atmosphere in Dracula and was well written. The book could easily have been double the length and still would have been just as interesting.
For me, the first half of the book was quite slow in comparison to the second half, where it discusses in more detail about Dracula and how the twins become a part of what happens. I felt the latter parts of the book, which I was most intrigued to read was skimmed over too quickly. I understand that the book’s purpose was to not focus on Dracula, but I would have loved to have seen more about Kizzy and Lil’s life in the castle after they become his “brides”, as this was only briefly mentioned at the end. While it was interesting to see their journey before reaching the castle and finding you their origins story, the interactions with Dracula was what I wanted more from in the book, just as the book engrossed me, the story ended.
It was great that The Deathless Girls has a F/F relationship. I was genuinely so excited when I heard that this was LGBTQIAP+. I did want to read more about the two character’s relationship as it didn’t feature as much as I thought it would.
Both of the twins were extremely interesting characters and it was interesting to see their differences and similarities. Books that have complex sibling relationships interest me and I love to read about the family dynamics. Kizzy was a fantastic character and her loyalty to Lil was great. She’s a strong female, and the book focuses on feminism during a time in which this was not really accepted. It stays true to the time while still having these strong and independent characters.
The way in which the author incorporates the local language is great and sets the tone of the era the book was set in. It’s clear that Hargrave has done her research. The spelling, punctuation and grammar was perfect; even though this was an uncorrected proof I spotted no errors. I loved Hargrave’s writing style. It flowed well and was easy to read. I was instant,y interested in the story and The Deathless Girls is a book you could easily sit down and read within a few hours. Though it was set in a different time period, everything was explained well and I didn’t find myself getting confused at all. It was particularly good that there’s a glossary to refer to at the beginning of the book.
Overall, I did enjoy the book. It was an interesting take on the “brides” of Dracula, but I was left wanting a little more, especially in regards to finding out more about the third bride, which instead is quickly skimmed over. I felt the book could have gone into a lot more detail in regards to their lives after being turned into vampires and I thought it did lack some crossovers with the original book. There could have been mentions of Dracula’s wolves as they’re approaching the castle and there even could have been a mention of the brides encounter with Jonathan Harker which happens in Dracula.
I understand the reasoning behind The Deathless Girls focusing on Kizzy and Lil instead of Dracula, but if it’s a retelling, I think readers tend to have certain expectations for the book, and these expectations vary and you can’t please everyone! The writing was brilliant and I did enjoy this book overall even though it was different to what I expected it to be.
While I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would, that doesn’t mean you won’t absolutely love it. It’s oozing with feminism and has LGBTQIAP+ rep in it too. It’s brilliantly written, the setting and world the Hargrave has created is spectacular, it’s clear she’s researched this topic a lot. It was interesting to read her take on the brides of Dracula and I’d definitely recommend giving The Deathless Girls a read!
If you would like to preorder a copy of this book, you can do so here: