Ruby Chernyavsky has been told the stories since she was a child: The women in her family, once possessed of great magical abilities to remake lives and stave off death itself, were forced to flee their Russian home for America in order to escape the fearful men who sought to destroy them. Such has it always been, Ruby’s been told, for powerful women. Today, these stories seem no more real to Ruby than folktales, except for the smallest bit of power left in their blood: when each of them comes of age, she will have a vision of who she will be when she dies—a destiny as inescapable as it is inevitable. Ruby is no exception, and neither is her mother, although she ran from her fate years ago, abandoning Ruby and her sisters. It’s a fool’s errand, because they all know the truth: there is no escaping one’s Time.
Until Ruby’s great-aunt Polina passes away, and, for the first time, a Chernyavsky’s death does not match her vision. Suddenly, things Ruby never thought she’d be allowed to hope for—life, love, time—seem possible. But as she and her cousin Cece begin to dig into the family’s history to find out whether they, too, can change their fates, they learn that nothing comes without a cost. Especially not hope.
About The Author:
Rebecca Podos’ debut novel, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES, was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a B&N Best YA Book of 2016. Her second book, LIKE WATER, won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children’s and Young Adult. THE WISE AND THE WICKED, her third novel, is forthcoming in May 2019.
A graduate of the Writing, Literature and Publishing Program at Emerson College and the Creative Writing Program at College of Santa Fe, Rebecca’s fiction has been published in journals like Glimmer Train, Paper Darts, and Smokelong Quarterly. By day, she works as a YA and MG agent at the Rees Literary Agency in Boston.
Find Rebecca Online
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My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Wise and The Wicked is the magical realism book of my dreams. From page one, I was drawn in by the magical world of the Chernyavskies, and by the time I finished, I was devastated that it was over.
I’m not the hugest fan of fantastical elements in books and I tend to steer away from fantasy, which is why I’m always wary of magical realism. I like this genre because it’s a nice middle ground between contemporary and fantasy, but sometimes the fantasy elements are too much and and I struggle to read it. Thankfully, the fantastical elements in The Wise and The Wicked didn’t bog the story down but made it all the more enthralling. Poddos crafted such an intricate world that combined Russian culture and magic in such an interesting way. The concept was one that felt familiar, but was done in a completely new and unique way.
All of the characters in this book were absolutely fantastic. I love the way in which the grey areas between being good and bad was explored. There was a quote towards the end which I thought summed up the book really well: “Maybe there weren’t any villains or heroes in the world. Maybe there were just people.” I love books that explore the complexity of human nature and I thought that this was a novel that tackled the subject quite well. The main character, Ruby, was absolutely fantastic. She was deeply flawed and made many serious mistakes, but she acknowledged these mistakes and grew stronger because of them. I love the different relationships she had, especially the ones with her parents. I thought the friendship she had with her cousin Cece was absolutely amazing, and their bond was really well developed. I also love the complex relationship she had with her mother, and thought that the way it unfolded it. Finally, I really enjoyed the messy relationship she had with her sisters. They were all so extremely different, which made the dynamic really interesting. Though they fought a lot, it was clear that they cared a lot for one another.
This book would have been fantastic without a love interest, but there a romance and it made the book all the more amazing. I absolutely loved Dov and the chemistry between Dov and Ruby was absolutely on point. I can’t speak for the trans rep, but I personally found it to be very well done and made the book all the more beautiful.
One thing that detracted from my enjoyment was how quick the ending was. I felt like the buildup was quite slow, and then everything happened all at once and it was a little difficult to process all of it. Also, I’m not sure how I feel about the ambiguous ending. I know that there’s currently no plan for a sequel and I think this is a book that can stand on its own, but a sequel would definitely be interesting.
Prize: Win a copy of THE WISE AND THE WICKED by Rebecca Podos (INT)
Start Date: 22nd May 2019
End Date: 5th June 2019