February 26, 2021

Abbreviations #124: The Deathless Girls, The Picture of Dorian Gray + City of Villains

The Deathless Girls was 75% a beautiful edition purchase and 25% a story with an intriguing premise that I wanted to add to my TBR. Unfortunately, it ended up ultimately just not being a novel that worked for me. The Deathless Girls is about twins Lil and Kizzy, who are taken away from their beloved traveller caravan and forced into service to the cruel Boyar Valcar. They are forced to work in the kitchens, where they meet other girls in the same situation, and they learn about the Dragon, a mysterious figure who takes girls as gifts, only to discover that their fate might just be tied to his… This novel had such a compelling premise, and I fully expected an enthralling, haunting tale about two sisters and the hand they are dealt in their lives. Alas, the execution of this novel just didn’t work for me. The pacing was all over the place (including a slow start and a rushed latter third). The characters weren’t at all memorable, and felt very much like cardboard cutouts (thin, flimsy and lacking in detail). The writing wasn’t as lyrical as I’d anticipated, nor did I feel like the plot was anything to write home about. Even with a promising start, it saddens me to say that The Deathless Girls wound up being a disappointment in the end.

Pub Info: September 19, 2019 by Orion Children's Books | Add it on Goodreads

Pretty pleased to have kept up the tradition of reading a classic in the first month of every year (an unplanned tradition that started in 2018, that is)! The Picture of Dorian Gray had been on my radar for a while because I follow a few people who read it and absolutely loved it. Sadly, I didn’t end up enjoying it very much. This classic by Oscar Wilde is about a very good-looking young man named Dorian Gray, who gives up his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Dorian winds up living a double life where he remains a gentleman in polite society while indulging his desires in secret, as only his portrait bears the marks of his debauchery. Intriguing premise, right? Alas, the actual novel itself is unremarkable. It’s basically the classic version of a “train wreck” story (the type of tale where you just know bad things are going to happen or characters are going to make terrible life choices, but you can’t look away) and, while I normally find those interesting, there wasn’t much to recommend this tale to me. Dorian was very much a piece of work, though I’ll concede that he was also easily manipulated by others too so it may not be entirely his fault that he is the way he is. But his behavior and choices, when put together with the plot, just failed to elicit any reaction from me other than a raised eyebrow and an exasperation with humankind. While I can certainly see why this could be an interesting tale to discuss from a thematic perspective, it just wasn’t for me.

Pub Info: July 20, 1890 | Add it on Goodreads

As someone who grew up a Disney kid (and is very much still one at heart), I was immediately drawn in by the premise of City of Villains. Our protagonist Mary Elizabeth Heart is a high school senior interning with the Monarch City police department. She finally gets the big break she’s been waiting for when the Chief assigns her to help out with a missing persons case involving the daughter of one of the city’s most powerful businessmen. But as the investigation goes on, Mary finds herself uncovering a much bigger conspiracy that involves the ever-growing conflict between those who once had magic and want it back and those who want magic for themselves. Great concept with so much potential, yes? Unfortunately, the execution just didn’t do it for me. Part of that has to do with not being in the target age demographic for this new series, I’m sure. But the other part of that is the storytelling style, with the chaotic world-building, uneven pacing and lack of character development. I did appreciate the nods to all the Disney properties sprinkled throughout the tale (and found some of them especially amusing), and the actual plot is alright (though the mystery is a little convenient). But while I don’t regret the time I spent reading City of Villains (because it’s a really quick read!), the novel is far less memorable for me than many other stories I’ve read this year.

Pub Info: February 2, 2021 by Disney-Hyperion | Add it on Goodreads


  1. It sounds like these didn't quite work for you. :-( That's too bad. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic I thought I might try next. Now I'll be on the fence about it. Sorry to hear you had three not so great books. But I'm impressed you still made it all the way through them! I often give up these days. Great reviews!
    Lisa Loves Literature

  2. I was intrigued by the cover of The Deathless Girls but it's a bummer you didn't quite enjoy it. Loved your reviews.

    Poulami @ Daydreaming Books


Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)