Rebecca is one of my favorite people, we share a love of inventive story telling and favorite authors – what more do you need? So I am absolutely thrilled that I loved The Wise and the Wicked as much as I did. I shouldn’t have been worried because it’s magic with sacrifices, matriarchs, and stories of friendship.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
The Wise and the Wicked is a story about confronting our fate, of wondering if we are willing to sacrifice what it takes to change it, and go against what we thought. It’s a story of expectations, of bravery, and friendship. All while it being a story about stories themselves, about heroes and villains, and whether we can find the power in our blood to re-write our ending.
Side characters: bisexual, gay, and transgender
You know I was going to be attracted by a story that focuses on a family of women who have a legacy of magical powers – including the ability to see their own death. And what happened is that I fell in love with this entire cast of characters including Ruby, Cece, and Dov. We have Ruby my stem obsessed main character – the character of my heart. Cece with her pure and overflowing heart. And Dov, you precious and loving soul.
But what really takes The Wise and the Wicked to a new level in my heart, were the themes. We discuss fate, familial expectations, and whether we have the power to change the narrative. When we’ve grown up with stories with clear villains and heroes, we think we know where we stand. Where our past has defined us. But all stories are just from one angle.
It’s a book about yearning, about finding out if we can truly change our fate. If knowing our end indeed tells us who we are, or if we can figure out a way to become someone else. Do we become monstrous? Twisted by our desire and willing to sacrifice anything to get it, even our sense of right and wrong?
(Also can I just say that the podcast in this book needs to be real because I need it in my life, okay?)
Confronted with their end, the Chernyavsky women are faced with the choice to accept their fate. Or to do the impossible and figure out a way to change it. But this kind of change comes with a cost. And can we truly stomach the consequences of our desires? The Wise and the Wicked is a story about family and the bonds that hold us together, but at the same time it’s a story about breaking free of our expectations of family, to stand up for what is right. It’s a story about migration, of being chased out and leaving home, of losing everything that ties and roots us.
Prize: Win a copy of THE WISE AND THE WICKED by Rebecca Podos (INT)
Start Date: 22nd May 2019
End Date: 5th June 2019a Rafflecopter giveaway
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.