Children’s book of the week: The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

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In our new weekly spot where we review and recommend a book for younger readers, here’s a great read aimed at fans of YA.

One of the areas that’s been heavily cut back on as newspapers and magazines trim their budgets in current times is reviews of books for young readers. As such, it’s getting trickier and trickier for authors of books for children and younger readers to get their work noticed. This weekly spot on the site is our attempt to do something about that. If you see a book you like here, please do spread the word. And who knows? We may see some of these stories on the big screen in the future.

The age guidance for this week’s book choice is teenagers/young adults.

November is the perfect month for reading. The days are getting shorter as the nights creep in earlier and earlier. The leaves have fallen. There’s a growing chill in the air as the wind’s howling begins to feel more imposing. If you’re looking for the perfect book to revel in that unquestionably Gothic feeling, then let me point you in the direction of The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

It’s a reimagining of the untold tale of the Brides of Dracula, who Bram Stoker did not bestow names to beyond calling the three-vampire women the ‘sisters’. Their origin and identity are never revealed, nor is their relationship to Dracula – although adaptations of the 1897 novel sometimes include them, this is never truly expanded. Here Hargrave finally gives them a voice, making them into characters who feel bitterly real.

Here’s the synopsis…

On the eve of her Divining, a tradition within her traveller community to unveil her fate, 17-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel tyrant Boyar Valcar. Forced into slavery, working in the unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil plots their escape whilst also being drawn to fellow slave Mira, in a way she has never felt before and does not truly understand. But, when the terrifying and infamous Dragon – a man spoken about in whispers and fear – comes to visit, fate looks set to strike a cruel blow for all three women.

The result is a book that is magnificently intoxicating and hypnotic. Hargrave’s prose is exquisite in setting this mesmerising landscape, from the first page we are immersed in this world that feels as hauntingly uncanny as it is sumptuous. The themes of difference, sisterhood, desire, prejudice and LGBT are wonderfully explored – with characters so full of depth and compassion. Both Lil and Kizzy, though vastly different characters, feel well-constructed and developed. They feel like real people we quickly and deeply grow to care for them – which Hargrave then toys us with as they come to face huge turmoil, trauma and terror.

Dracula is the lurking shadow, an omnipotent figure always haunting proceedings in the background, but it is the twins who are the forefront – the true focus Hargrave empowers in this dark and determined mediation of power and sisterhood. This is definitely one you’ll want to sink your teeth into, find yourself unable to put it down and then be haunted by long after reading!

More details: right here.

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