Un post alla volta, devo un po’ impormi di riprendere il ritmo. Ammetto di avere la testa altrove, presa da altre persone e altre questioni, e che per come sono fatta dovrei fare tutto tranne che sentirmi sotto pressione perché non mi riesce di scrivere recensioni o, peggior ancora, leggere libri. Eppure ammetto di sentirmi un po’ come se stessi mancando un dovere fondamentalmente, quindi ho bisogno di una giusta via di mezzo… motivo per cui oggi vi lascio un teaser, rigorosamente spoiler free, dalle pagine del libricino meraviglioso consigliatomi da una delle mie persone preferite in assoluto. Il titolo è “Deathless“, l’autrice Catherynne M. Valente, e lo sto davvero davvero davvero amando.
In a city by the sea that was certainly never called anything so bourgeois as St. Petersburg, there stood a long, thin house on a long, thin street. By a long, thin window, a young woman in a pale blue dress and pale green slippers watched her new neighbor arrive in the house next door. An old woman clutching her suitcase, shrouded in a black wool dress, very tall and thin, whose waist was so stretched and skinny that Marya could have put both her hands around it. The woman’s fingers were amazingly long, her nose sharp and spiked, and her white hair pulled tightly back into a bun. She walked with a limp and a hunch, but Marya suspected that this was to hide how tall she truly was.
“That’s Comrade Likho,” said one of Marya’s twelve mothers, darning an ancient stocking. “A widow with no children. She says she’ll take in all our laundry, the dear old thing. I thought it might be nice if you visited her after school. She could tutor you, watch out for you while I’m at the factory.”
Marya did not like this idea at all. In a classroom she could think her own thoughts and no one would bother her—no teachers called upon her anymore. With a tutor, she could not avoid being asked her opinions. She frowned down at the hunchbacked Likho. The crone stopped and looked up at the window, the turn of her head fast and sharp, like a bird’s. Widow Likho’s eyes were black and huge, as though they had drooped and melted and slid down into her cheekbones. Her gaze was barbed and biting. The cherry trees dropped their blossoms across Likho’s black dress, and she scowled.
“You shouldn’t be frightened of old ladies,” admonished another of Marya’s mothers—the one, by coincidence, who had borne her. Marya knew she should not show favoritism, but her mother’s hands looked so thin, the skin so dry, she wanted to clap them between her own, to warm them and make them red again. “You’ll be one someday, you know.”
The widow Likho stared up at Marya’s window. Slowly, like ice sliding across a plate, she smiled.
A glorious retelling of the Russian folktale Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless, set in a mysterious version of St. Petersburg during the first half of the 20th century.
Child of the revolution, maiden of myth, bride of darkness.
A handsome young man arrives in St Petersburg at the house of Marya Morevna. He is Koschei, the Tsar of Life, and he is Marya’s fate.
Koschei leads Marya to his kingdom, where she becomes a warrior in his tireless battle against his own brother, the Tsar of Death.
Years pass. Battle-hardened, scarred by love, and longing for respite, Marya returns to St Petersburg – only to discover a place as pitiful as the land she has just fled: a starveling city, haunted by death.
Deathless is a fierce story of life and death, love and power, old memories, deep myth and dark magic, set against the history of Russia in the twentieth century. It is, quite simply, unforgettable.