As a huge fan of Olivie Blake's Alone with You in the Ether, which was my favorite 2022 release I read last year, I felt very safe in the masterfully adept creative mind and hands for this venture into her newest Tor Books/Macmillan Audio release, One For My Enemy. A couple of my close trusted friends had dug into the story before I had the chance to, and were all raving. So as deflated as I was attempting to temper my expectations going into this read, reminding myself this is a genre shift from literary fiction to magical fantasy drama, it was hard not to allow some moderate-to-high excitement for an incoming masterpiece to creep in and Ms. Olivie Blake took that excitement and said here's an all you can eat feast of serotonin.
In One For My Enemy, we meet Baba Yaga and the Antonova sisters and Koschei the Deathless and the Fedorov brothers; two NYC witch dynasties who have been at war for over 12 years. Each family not only struggles for power against each other, but also within themselves. When a brother and a sister from each respective empire are drawn together by fate, a series of destructive events start to devolve in their wake, carrying each family and its members to the brink of implosion.
I loved how unexpected the story felt even knowing going in that One For My Enemy is a Romeo and Juliet interpolation interwoven with Baba Yaga lore. There was so much drama going on that was all so juicy and chaotic it felt like a feature length witchy Succession in the best way. The twists and turns felt surprising and shocking. Multiple moments stole my breath and had my jaw hanging open on the floor. (Multiple annotations of mine are just "!!! the DRAMA"). Blake makes you fall in love with more characters and relationships than you can even anticipate. Even the modernization of the text having a screenplay feel updated from Shakespeare's dramaturgy was such a slam dunk for me and had me in awe of Blake's technical prowess and skill. (I would absolutely love to see this story adapted to screen, preferably in a miniseries but honestly in any form). I have read other reviews critiquing the pacing, but I found the pacing to be well balanced and restrained, which is needed to manage the many storylines, characters, and complex relationships that are being juggled at once. I felt the format further enhanced the ability of the reader to track each through-line and not get lost while navigating their way through the various stories until they finally converge.
The narration by Ferdelle Capistrano was absolutely perfect. I really loved the vocal performance as a whole and felt the emotions infused into each of the various characters felt authentic and true. I found myself multiple times laughing out loud or moved to tears.
“You are you, an entire whole, all on your own, If you have loved and been loved, then you are richer for it; you don't simply become a smaller version of yourself simply because what you once had is gone."
Most recommend for people who love: Romeo and Juliet, Baba Yaga anything, Succession, Practical Magic (1998), The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Warm Bodies (2013), Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006), A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson, Veronica Mars, the Grishaverse, Anastasia /Romanov lore, ACOTAR series by Sarah J Maas and Pretty Little Liars the series (both in terms of the sheer amounts of intense happenings, dramas, and relationships chaotically interweaving with each other), The Kiss Curse by Rachel Hawkins, Vox Lux (2018), The VVitch (2016), and Olivie Blake's other works.
This book would be great to read during any season of the year, but buddy reading this book with a group of friends in October would be next level FUN. Book clubs across the nation should start planning this now and pair it with a screening of The VVitch (2015) -- if you've read the book and seen the film you know why.
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