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.
The Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 28th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT, Magical Realism
Where to Buy the Book
Podos starts this book with a leap into a world that I want to just never leave. She gives us a YA fantasy with a darker spin but leaving throughout the story glimpses of hope and goodness. Honestly, the little intro/prologue was so tantalizing that I knew I was going to love this book if it kept up that kind of dark fairytale feel, and it did. She weaves in Russian fairytales and folklore with a modern twist, and she doesn’t lean on them so heavily that her own story doesn’t stand out because it does, it truly does.
Ruby is dealing with being part of a large family of women who have been gifted with a power that was nearly the whole family’s undoing. Because of that, their powers are diminished but one remains, they are able to see their Time.
Knowing her time, Ruby much like everyone else was a prisoner to her fate. She acts out with skipping classes like most normal teenagers and stealing things just for the thrill of feeling power in herself, where she knows she’s powerless to her fate. She’s not a one-dimensional character, she is full of her own fears and even hopes when the death of someone close reveals a possible glimmer of hope.
There is diversity as well, we have [bisexual, though this is only mentioned so far] lesbian, and transgender representation and they’re not background or side characters, they all have their own voices and are wonderful to get to know. I especially love the twist that the magic knew the true gender of the transgender character, it was nice to see that the magic recognized what was within them.
There is romance, but it’s not the real focus of the story and it’s done really well so that though it’s not at the forefront, you’re left feeling pretty satisfied with where it’s going. I would say the message of love is that of family and not just by blood but perhaps what you make of who you have (though in this case, it is mostly blood, just a matter of maybe a cousin is more important than say another more immediate family member).
I really loved how Podos handled all the women in the family, they’re all so different and strong in their own ways and you couldn’t help but want to get to know them all better. Not to mention, CeeCee and Ruby are like two sides of a coin and that’s also another great part, their bond as best friends and not just family.
Definitely a 5/5 Cups of Coffee read for me and I really want to thank Harper Collins/Balzer + Bray, Rebecca Podos, and The Fantastic Flying Book Club for the opportunity to read this book which I read voluntarily in exchange for my honest review on this tour.
My Favorite Quotes
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.
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Win a copy of THE WISE AND THE WICKED by Rebecca Podos (INT)
Start Date: 22nd May 2019
End Date: 5th June 2019
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