The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Published September 19th 2019 by Orion Children’s Books
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…
A few months ago now I heard about a new feminist teen YA series from Hachette Children’s Group, called Bellatrix with an aim to “engage readers with stories, voices and characters that demand to be heard in the modern world”, said the publisher. Then at YALC I saw that one of the first titles would be The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, the gorgeous cover pulled me in and when I read it was a feminist retelling of the brides of Dracula I was giddy with excitement! As such, I requested it on Netgalley as soon as I was able and I finally read it this week (my backlog is immense people).
First off, I would like to say that The Deathless Girls is well written. I enjoyed the narrative style, the world was, although hugely similar to a lot of fantasy YA books has great potential as did the characters who I think I could have grown to become attached to but it was just..missing something? (slight spoiler incoming) If you had asked me what that was at around 60% I would have said, Vampires. It was missing vampires. “But”…I would have said, “don’t worry they’re coming soon, I know it!”
There are mentions and tidbits spread throughout a lot of the book that kept edging me on and thinking “the vampire stuff can’t be far off now, stuff is gonna go dooown.” As a result, I read this fairly quickly but in reflection, it feels like this was because the plot was effectively a carrot on a stick, teasing something that, in my mind at least, it just failed to deliver.
The Deathless Girls is not inherently a bad book and I’m not sure if it is purely my own expectation that ruined it for me because it sounded amazing and I did enjoy it as I read it, I almost felt invested and but it just ended up falling short. I feel it really needed to elaborate on that ending.
The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is out now and although I didn’t enjoy quite like I thought I would plenty of other people have and maybe it will be your thing too? If you enjoyed The Deathless Girls, sound off in the comments and tell me what you loved about it!