The Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos
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.
My Review ★★★☆☆
I loved this book so much from the beginning all the way up to maybe 80% of the way through. The story and concept were so interesting and nothing like what I’ve read before. It was dark and twisty in the best way possible, and its obvious there are some nefarious things going on that the main character so conveniently turns a blind eye to.
I’m obsessed with stories involving witches set in a contemporary setting, and this is exactly that. It had all of the darky, witchy vibes but set in current America which I found very interesting. The pacing was amazing, the romance had me itching for more, and the complicated family situation felt very real to me.
The only problem I had with the whole book was the end (no spoilers!) It really was slow (but in a good way) for most of the beginning/middle, but at the end it flew into overdrive so fast. It felt like things were moving too fast and we didn’t get to see as much as we should have. I really wish we had maybe another 50/100 pages to flesh out everything that happened. It didn’t feel like a true ending to me at all.
I get that it was the climax and the pace in general needed to pick up, but I feel like we missed out on some important information/context. Who knows, maybe we’ll pick right up after the end of the first book in the sequel and all my questions will be answered. But based on this solo book alone, I was impressed all the way until the last/couple of last chapters.
*Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this review copy!