Well, Valente is far from the first to try writing her own fairytale "for adults". I will admit that the idea of using Russian stories, however, is novel. (YA using random elements lifted from Wiki does not count.) She gets even further credit because she did do actual research. However, if you are to speak in the language of a fairytale, you have to narrate like one, too. Valente breaks the convention. I understand it's the style of the genre she named, Mythpunk. But it didn't work out for me, and from what I see in the other reviews, it was problematic for many other readers. It would have been better if it was more original fantasy only based on fairytale world. As close as Deathless plays it, though, up to and adopting stylistic elements such repetition and threes, sudden switch to modern narrative techniques creates a dissonance. Maybe it disturbed me even more because I'm familiar with some of the stories and this kind of fairytales. First, there is the not-prologue. Basically, it's a scene that takes place somewhere in the book. It resembles a teaser just before the TV episode. It's not only cheap play at getting reader's attention. It's also very misleading. It doesn't fit the tone of the rest of the book. The event in it is irrelevant and doesn't take place until near the very ending.Then, the final part. There is a sudden POV switch – for no purpose that I can see. It brought us no new knowledge. And it happens only once. It's just awkward.Frankly, the twist at the end sounds a bit not-planned-ahead, too. It seems as if though the author wrote herself into the corner. And I understand: there were not many ways to write a story with that kind of characters and get the kind of the ending she obviously wanted. The kind of ending I wanted, to be honest. But I can't help wondering if there wasn't a more elegant way to resolve it and if that whole episode was really necessary.Valente's language is often talked about. Most of the time, it works, particularly considering how close the story is to a fairytale. But sometimes, it goes too far:“Her cheek warmed where a child slapped her once, years before.”We actually see the slapping scene mentioned near the beginning. But the link is a bit too much of a stretch.Another thing that felt a bit over-the-top is BDSM lite. No, it's not explicit. And yes, I understand that such relationships would be relevant here, but it seemed to be taken a bit too far. Very cavalier open relationship between Marya and Koshchei seems a bit unrealistic, particularly since we don't see much emotional development of either. It sounds like it's based entirely on sex and powerplay. Which is okay, except that then we're supposed to believe it's love after all. Again, not impossible, but we really don't see much of the attachment there. As far as the relationships go, one between Marya and Ivan was fleshed out better. Yes, classic fairytale romances are not developed and are pretty much straightforward, but if you are going to give it the third dimension, you can't stop halfway. Still, as far as love triangles go, this is a good example of how to do it right: it's not about who's a better choice. Heroine, too, is hardly a typical protagonist. The way fairytale meshes with "real world" is very well done too. I loved the take on classical characters, particularly the dragon.I really liked this book, but I felt that some things could have been done much better.