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The Wise and the Wicked

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  871 ratings  ·  219 reviews
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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
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Popular Answered Questions
Rebecca Podos Amending this to be more thorough, because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this! The full answer is YES, I do have plans for a sequel. It won’t b…moreAmending this to be more thorough, because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this! The full answer is YES, I do have plans for a sequel. It won’t be my next book, but I for sure have the further adventures of Ruby and co. in mind. Still, it's not 100% up to me. This business is a labor of love, but it’s also a numbers game. So the best way to bring about a sequel is to show support for a book that you love; tell your friends about that book, leave reviews across platforms, and request it from your library. Make your thirst heard, because every little bit helps 💕(less)
Rebecca Podos A good question! The love interest, Dov, is a trans boy; the two secondary (but still important) characters are lesbians.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  871 ratings  ·  219 reviews

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Lala BooksandLala
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it
3.75 stars

Although I don’t read much YA contemporary these days, this had enough tropes that I like that I wanted to give it a try: contemporary fantasy, witches, and Russian folklore.

This ended up being an enjoyable mystery about the history of a family of Russian witches. The modern witch vibes were fun. Also, there was unexpected LGBTQ+ rep that I loved! The main character’s love interest is a trans boy (with frank discussions about binders, coming out, etc) and his sister is dating her cou
Jade Ratley
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
8.14 on CAWPILE.
Nov 16, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: fantasy, arc, young-adult
This cover? The most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The blessings.

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Jane (It'sJaneLindsey)
Excuse me, this is a stand-alone and it ends like THAT?
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-2
This is an interesting little YA novel. Ruby, one of three sisters, has heard family tales passed down about how her mother and her sisters were sent away from Russia by their mother because their ability to (this is vaguely alluded to) sort of read tea leaves and predict fates for people got them marked for murder as witches. Lots of delightful Russian culture, folklore and wonderful story detail. The characters in this are great. It reminded me a little of “The Raven Cycle” with the quirky, sm ...more
This book has my favorite m/f romance of the year, and maybe of ever. I can't believe I almost didn't read it.

The Wise and the Wicked is a contemporary fantasy story following Ruby Chernyavsky, a 16-year-old Russian-American girl from a "slightly magical" family in which every woman gets to know at which age she will die. Or so they thought.

I fell in love with this story right from the beginning because of Ruby. She is the youngest of three sisters, and her mother left them when Ruby was really
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

This is going to be a review in Three Acts. Because I had three very distinct experiences while reading this book, so... seems legit I guess.

Act One: Oh Crap I Might DNF
Okay I hate DNFing, we know this. But Val suggested I call it quits, because she didn't love it, and honestly when Val tells me to DNF something I really need to listen because every time, I regret not listening, and here

Ashley Blake
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had the honor of getting an early read on this book and oh, oh, the world is going to love this beautiful story.
Madalyn (Novel Ink)
This review originally appeared on Novel Ink.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From page one, The Wise and the Wicked swept me into a world of ancient Russian fairy tales, long-hidden family secrets, and a main character trying to make sense of the world and her place in it. The writing was immersive, the characters were interesting, but the main, glaring issue with this book that I was left fee
May 03, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2019-releases
ahhhhhhhhhh magical realism ahhhhhhhhh russian-inspired ahhhhhhhhhhh psychic sisters ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh i want this so badly!
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I would classify this book as YA contemporary combined with magical realism.

The narrator of this book is 16 year old Ruby (3rd person POV). She comes from a family where the women have powers. At a certain point in their lives they will have a vision of when they will die.

This was an original story with a pretty cover. There is some romance in the book. But to me it wasn't the main focus.

Ruby had two sisters. But I honestly I did not feel like we saw enough of them for me to really know them. He
I loved this book so much from the beginning all the way up to maybe 80% of the way through. The story and concept were so interesting and nothing like what I've read before.

I'm obsessed with slightly witchy stories set in a contemporary setting, and this is exactly that. The pacing was amazing, the romance had me itching for more, and the complicated family situation felt very real to me.

The only problem I had with the whole book was the end (no spoilers!) It really was slow (but in a good wa
4 stars
TW: attempted murder, underage drinking, death
Rep: trans boy LI, (two) lesbian major SCs, Russian-American family (and MC)

The Writing
The writing in this book was very atmospheric and felt very fitting to the setting. I especially loved the descriptions of the different houses and the detail that went into all of that. I felt transported into the small town and it felt very homey and creepy at the same time and I loved that so much.

The Plot/Pacing
The plot felt like it was a bit a
Put a book in front of me with any type of fairy tale aspects to it, and you can pretty much guarantee that I'm going to read it. When I saw that The Wise and the Wicked was based around Russian folktales, my heart was so happy. I love a good story with folktale roots. It's probably no surprise at all that I was very excited to read this book.

To be honest, I actually really loved about the first 70% of this book. It was a little slow, sure, but I could feel that pull back to the old stories and
Aug 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
C/W:(view spoiler)

"You're a kid, Ruby. You think a small, happy life is this terrible, wasted thing, like I did. But you'll grow up. You'll learn too."

The Wise and the Wicked started out strong for me and seemed to lose its appeal toward the end. The story is atmospheric and character-driven as it follows Ruby's journey to uncover her family's secrets. The pacing is slow but works for the story. My curiosi
Katie Hanna
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
This was (and remains) in many ways a brilliant story, but that ending was just Not For Me, folks. Not For Me, at all.

I don't feel like writing a full review, but if you want my informal thoughts, or notes on content, comment below [or message me!]

*sadly & solemnly chucks this book onto the growing pile of "Russian inspired fantasy that I thought would make me super happy but instead ended up making me super mad"*
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star
I don't know guys, this books was interesting, but honestly I'm also sort of annoyed with it.

The Wise and the Wicked is Russian inspired. I am Russian. The main characters are a magically gifted Russian family that ran from Russia to escape people trying to kill them. The research is good, there were definitely little things that told me that Podos didn't half-ass her research. However, what annoyed me was her language choices. Again, for the most part it was good. But there was a mix up of plu
May 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Although interesting enough to keep me hooked, the first half that included snippets of fairy tales, family stories, and a random podcast was still too slow, and the second half was... well, messy. There was an attempt at exploration of moral grayness and limits one is willing to go to survive, which I always find interesting, but in this case it was short, sloppy, and not very well done. Despite their backstories, the characters ended up bland and boxed into two standard categories. After a wil ...more
(3.5/5) THE WISE AND THE WICKED feels as if the collective works of Anne-Marie McLemore, Katherine Arden, and Laura Ruby were put into a literary blender and this is the result. I just wish I had enjoyed it more than I did. Still, I’d love to tackle this book again in the future as it improved for me greatly about half of the way through as I got settled into the story. From the magical realism elements and lore that spans generations to the inclusivity and focus on familial relationships, there ...more
Jacquelyn White
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A standout in YA magical realism genre. From the culture inspirations of Russia to the real life drama of growing up a teen in America this book has a authentic vibe with just the right dose of magic. 10/10 would recommend and can’t wait for book two.
Ardent Reader
Oct 13, 2020 rated it did not like it

I don't know what's wrong with me.
I just couldn't cope up with the story.
Nothing much happened to the point where I stopped reading.
Simant Verma
Full review: Flipping Through the Pages

This story is about Chernyavsky family who had fled from Russia and had long-hidden secrets. They were being hunted for their powers but now their power has weakened as they suppress them to keep themselves safe. Ruby lives with her two sisters and has grown up being told this story. The Chernyavsky family is predominantly women, with men appearing only to a point to father a daughter. When the girls reach teens years, at some point they see their Time in w
Inside My Library Mind
More reviews up on my blog Inside My Library Mind

*I initially gave this book 3.5 stars but I lowered it to 3 stars after sitting down to write the review and getting frustrated

"We're Chernyavsky women, and the dark is scared of us."

Stuff I Liked
There was so much to like about this book. Matter of fact, if you follow me elsewhere online, you know I have been talking about how much I’ve been loving this one. And I was loving it.

First of all, I really enjoyed the writing. It’s very
Karen • The Book Return
Read this review and more on my blog.The Book Return Blog
Ruby and her sisters come from a long line of wise and powerful women. When their grandmother and her sisters fled Russia they lost most of their magical powers. Today only one of their great powers remain. The power to have a vision of their own death.
The cover on this one was what initially got me. It justs screams Russian folklore. It gives a great representation of what this novel is about.
The only type of magical realism that I really
Christina Reid
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
By day, they were the kind of people who seemed to belong in the house on Stone Road. Ruby went to school while her sisters worked the part-time jobs they could get without college degrees, scrambling to save for Ruby’s own (ultimately pointless) college fund. Ginger was an office assistant at a feed store, while Dahlia currently worked at ’Wiches and Wings, a butterfly conservatory and sandwich shop in one.

And then some nights, rare but constant for the last few years, they were different peopl
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
From page one, The Wise and the Wicked swept me into a world of ancient Russian fairy tales, long-hidden family secrets, and a main character trying to make sense of the world and her place in it. 
Lots of delightful Russian culture, folklore and wonderful story detail. The characters in this are great. It reminded me a little of “The Raven Cycle” with the quirky, small, intimate feel of it. But that ending...What?!?!
May 01, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, unhauled
Amazing idea, but such a weak plot and weak writing. Those endless descriptions over and over again and all those inner monologues! Ouf. Also so many predictable plot (can’t call it twists). I did foresee everything coming and skimmed the second half. Still it didn’t catch me by surprise.
This could have been so much better! I loved the folklore bits of the story! But in the end it got all twisted and there was this oh so evil person. What a bad ending.
I’m sad.
Gem - The Tasty Chapter
3.5-4/5 stars. Is this going to be a series? It feels like it, but no hint of a follow up in the works, and the author is releasing an unrelated book next year. I want a second book!
Sep 16, 2021 rated it it was ok
The ending sucks
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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, was recently released. Her forthcoming books include FOOLS IN LOVE (Running Press Kids, 2021) a co-edited YA anthology with autho ...more

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