Happy International Women’s Day! I am absolutely loving all of the love being shown to inspirational women across my social media, so I thought I would share a way to show some love to the inspirational women writers of the world.

Now that it’s 2018, (some) women in the United Kingdom have been able to vote for 100 years (women over the age of 30 who were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register were given the vote in 1918 as part of the Representation of the People Act, women were awarded the same voting rights as men in 1928). In honour of this, there have been events here, there and everywhere – it’s glorious.

My favourite of these is the #Vote100Books initiative.

Hay Festival, which is the biggest literary festival in the country, has teamed up with The Pool with the aim of finding 100 books by women published in the last 100 years that deserve more attention. I am here for it. (There is also a snazzy competition for everyone who nominates – yay books!)

I don’t think anyone will be surprised at which book I nominated (I find every opportunity to mention it, after all).

That’s right, it’s Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente. It is and always will be the first book that I recommend to friends, family, loved ones of all breeds, random camels… literally anything, plant, animal or mineral, that I can recommend this book to, I do. If you’ve not read it, consider this a formal recommendation.

Not only does the book (the beautiful, beautiful book) deserve to be on the list but Catherynne M. Valente does too. I’ve already mentioned how wonderful her Patreon is, she really does take the time and make the effort to show her fans that she appreciates them, and though that is not at all a requirement of authors, it’s definitely deserving of praise when it happens. Her writing is beautiful and deserves to be shared.

I am super excited to find out which books end up on the list, and I can’t wait to start delving into it.

I implore you to nominate your own favourite female author – the more nominations they get, the better! If you want to cast your vote, you can do so at the Hay Festival website. If you want to read more about #Vote100Books, The Pool has written a great article.

Happy International Women’s Day, I hope you take the opportunity to celebrate the wonderful women around you, as well as the women writers who make the literary world go round.


Review: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente


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. For years she follows him in love and in war, and bears the scars. But eventually Marya returns to her birthplace – only to discover 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.

I have been sat on this review for a while. I wasn’t quite sure how to put how much I loved this book into words. I think the best way is to tell you that after I finished reading it, I bought it for my best friend. I not only wanted her to read it, I wanted her to own it. And now she does.

Catherynne M. Valente has steadily grown to be my favourite author alongside Neil Gaiman and it is in a big way because of this book (as well as her Fairyland series and Palimpsest). Valente is a poet, her work is always very lyrical and inspiring. It is as much her use of language as the stories she tells that makes me love her work so much. It’s so rich and fulfilling, it’s very hard not to feel satisfied while reading her work.

Deathless tells the tale of Marya Morevna, a figure from Russian folklore, and Koschei the Deathless. I love folklore and it is clear that Valente does too, she weaves it together in a way which seems completely natural. Without prior knowledge of Russian mythology, it might take some Googling in some places where Russian terms aren’t explained but it is well worth it.

Valente employs repetition, as you might find in old fairy tales, to great effect. My favourite parts of the novel were those which were familiar. It really added to the magic of the novel. Again, she is very poetic and it’s incredibly satisfying.

The characters were compelling and while I didn’t always like them, I always cared about them. It’s hard to choose a favourite but I did particularly enjoy the domovoye (which, as I do not have the book on me, I may have spelt wrong). It has quite a large cast but that is not to the book’s detriment, in fact, it’s something I really enjoyed about it. I liked getting to know all of the different characters and creatures even if they did hurt my heart.

This book tugged at my heart and is still tugging even though it’s been a while since I finished reading it. I would definitely recommend buying it. It currently lives beside my bed and I don’t see it moving any time soon.