Ruby Chernyavsky has been told the stories since she was a child: The women in her family, once possessed of the magical ability to stave off death itself, were forced to flee Russia 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.
Podos returns with a lush, dark, and unforgettable story of the power of the past to shape our futures, and the courage it takes to change them.
Praise for THE WISE AND THE WICKED:
"An enigmatic tale that feels as powerful and lush as the old-magic stories told by its characters, The Wise and the Wicked
is an intoxicating ode to family, to first love, to storytelling. Podos's complex characters and evocative prose weave a tantalizing spell,
one in which I was all too happy to be ensnared."
—Claire Legrand, New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn
“Podos’ intricately-woven family secrets are a delight to tease apart, and her Russian magic system is full of all the checks and balances
that make magic interesting and complex. LGBTQ representation is strong in this story and handled senstitively…
This tale is heartwarming and tragic in turns as the characters tackle the balance between loyalty, family and identity
to master their own fates.”
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A resonant contemporary fantasy rooted in the very real tension of familial legacy, identity, and choice.”
“An intricate plot full of mystery and folklore that will make readers race toward the satisfying but not-yet-tied up conclusion.
VERDICT: A beautifully rendered story about sacrifice, vengeance, survival, secrets, and lies.”
—School Library Journal
"Podos uses the simple premise of foreseeing one’s own death to weave a fast-paced, nuanced study of good and evil …
A page-turning mixture of magic, suspense, and queer romance that keeps readers enthralled."
"Podos explores how family histories get twisted over time and how ancestral trauma, particularly among immigrant families,
resonates among younger generations in surprising ways … this story ostensibly about magic, witches, and family rivalries
packs unexpected depth, which is only enhanced by a compelling cast of nicely multifaceted characters
and two refreshingly matter-of-fact queer romances."
“Issues of fatalism and family; gender identity and sexuality; heroes, villains, and the people in between
are threaded throughout Podos’s brooding tale.”
—The Horn Book