A thrilling story of rival witch families in New York City, from New York Times bestselling author and internet phenomenon Olivie Blake.
In modern-day Manhattan where we lay our scene, two rival witch families fight to maintain control of their respective criminal ventures.
On one side of the conflict are the Antonova sisters — each one beautiful, cunning, and ruthless — and their mother, the elusive supplier of premium intoxicants, known only as Baba Yaga. On the other side, the influential Fedorov brothers serve their father, the crime boss known as Koschei the Deathless, whose community extortion ventures dominate the shadows of magical Manhattan.
After twelve years of tenuous co-existence, a change in one family’s interests causes a rift in the existing stalemate. When bad blood brings both families to the precipice of disaster, fate intervenes with a chance encounter, and in the aftershocks of a resurrected conflict, everyone must choose a side. As each of the siblings struggles to stake their claim, fraying loyalties threaten to rot each side from the inside out.
If, that is, the enmity between empires doesn’t destroy them first.
Title : One For My Enemy
Author : Olivie Blake
Format : eARC / Physical
Page Count : 384
Genre : paranormal romance / retelling
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : April 4, 2023
Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5 / ★ ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 3.5 star review
One day I hope I can love one of Blake’s book without any complicated or mixed feelings about it. But we’ve yet to have that day, it seems.
Having said that though I think this is the closest I’ve gotten so far? Maybe? It’s certainly less pretentious and academic, with an ensemble I sometimes like but often times don’t, than The Atlas Six (and it’s sequel); and certainly less pretentious and strange than Alone With You in the Ether, and.. well, that sums it up.
One for my Enemy is a little more straight-forward and other than being a classic retelling there isn’t much pretension at all. Plus not only was it Shakespearean at it’s core but it also had the delightful bonus of Russian/Slavic folktales with the inclusion of the Baba Yaga and Koschei monikers. So that was fun. Oh, also? Witches. There’s a lot of good going on here. And we open with quite a bang.
But.. I’ll admit things did get a little too drawn out, too same-y (take a shot every time someone meets up with The Bridge for a deal.. wait don’t that happens every other page), and even though there was a bit of a wind-up for a big reveal at the end, this big grand master plan, I felt we’d lost too much momentum right before it all came clear. So it kind of pfft fell flat.
Admittedly, too, I only felt invested in two characters. Masha and Dima were everything. The antagonists were successfully antagonists and that’s good, sure, fine, but everyone else we were supposed to like or root for (mostly Sasha, Lev was okay) I just.. didn’t. Maybe because it was insta-lovey? And they were very dramatic. Which I guess ties into the whole R&J angle. And now that I think about it I wonder if Masha and Dima were Blake’s way of writing a better R&J story. Because it was. It was so much better.
So the set-up and all the references or homages? Good. The unique take so it didn’t feel like a direct retelling? Even better. The twisty familial ties and bonds? Fun because neither side were the “good” guys. And those aforementioned characters? Insert heart here. But it was definitely too long, or too drawn out, and there was too much death and too much not death (IYKYK).
Also I feel like halfway through the story I had forgotten Baba Yaga’s whole motivation slash enterprise goal unless it was just general New York/world dominion. Which kind of ties into the whole what was known to the world vs not when it comes to magic and creatures. As much as it felt like there was a setting, though not really in the sense that I always knew this was happening in New York (often I would convince myself this was in Moscow because of all the names and fairytale references), I’m not sure I really grasped the world.
But of all the Blake titles referenced above? This might be the one I would recommend. It’s the one book I’ve left feeling more good than not about.. even if I rambled complaints and confusions for the last few paragraphs. For all that I wasn’t sold on all the bits, it still manages to pass the vibe check.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s 4 star review
I’m sure most readers dipping into reviews know that this story is founded in Romeo and Juliet and honestly, Blake executed this vision of witches in New York with two competing families so well. What I expected, was to end up on the side of one family over another but the Antonovas and the Fedorovs were equally entracing as they were unpleasant. Each family had some characters I really loved and some I hated.
For me, it felt like there were four main characters in this book (who I loved equally) and then a set of really strong secondary characters with some others in the background. The idea of Baba Yaga and Koschei the Deathless were initally rather intimitdating with a mafia boss feel to their families, legacies and business dealings. The children of these families however had more grounding, practicality and loyalty to one another, I trusted most of these individuals more.
The story was incredibly surprising, the directions it went, the shocks and twists. I was kept glued to the page, sometimes a little heartbroken, sometimes doing a double take.
Could he really taste so sweet, being her enemy.
I know people have sometimes struggled with the density of Blake’s writing, its tendency towards a convoluted narrative but One For My Enemy was truly accessible, linear in the main and easy to read. I’m definitely a fan of this book.
Thank you to Tor Books and Black Crow PR for the review copy.