The Deathless Girls is a beautifully written story of survival, love and loyalty in a brutal world, brought vividly to life by award-winning author Kiran Millwood Hargrave. Twins Lil and Kizzy are savagely enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar and brought to work in his castle, but they soon learn that there are even greater evils in the world. The dragon is a mysterious man of myth who takes the girls as gifts, and fate has decreed that the twin’s destinies be entwined with his.

The Deathless Girls is a YA novel and the first that I have read by Hargrave, but it became apparent very quickly why the author has won or been nominated for so many awards. One reviewer described it as dark chocolate, rich with bitter undertones, and I think that deliciously sums up the novel for me. Set hundreds of years ago it shines a light on prejudices which sadly still infect society today – whether it be the colour of skin, someone’s culture or the place and worth of women. Without being heavy-handed, the author entwines these themes in a story that captures the reader’s imagination and keeps them turning the pages. I was so enthralled I read it in one day!

‘We need those done within the hour,’ said a harsh voice close behind, making me jump. Cook was squinting at us, her sunken lid quivering. She was short as Dot, and her hands, as she wiped them on her apron, were wrinkled as Old Charani’s. They were pocked with smooth burns and other marks, and I knew they’d be rough with work.

I longed to reach out and feel them on mine, to close my eyes and imagine for a moment it was divining day after all. I realised now the risk of how we had lived; that when home was a person and not a place, once they were gone you couldn’t get back. Home was lost for ever.’

The story is as much about hope as it is about the sacrifices that the characters are willing to make for the ones they love, as the seventeen-year-old sisters traverse the unforgiving alien world they have been thrust into. Before reading The Deathless Girls I managed to avoid any spoilers and there is a marvellous little twist at the end which I didn’t seem coming but absolutely loved.

For more information about Kiran and her other books, including her latest bestseller ‘The Mercies’ visit her website