Tuesday 4 July 2023

Book Review: One for my Enemy by Olivie Blake (Fantasy)

Title: One for My Enemy
Author: Olivie Blake
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: 2023 (2019)
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Bought Copy

In New York City 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 coexistence, 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.


One for my Enemy is a story that blends a Shakespeare retelling with Russian folklore and witchcraft-fantasy. I became interested and invested in the principal characters early on, and the book was an entertaining read throughout. Rather than a straight retelling, I would say the work is simply inspired by Romeo and Juliet, and that works well for it, as Blake is not enslaved to hitting each and every key point of the original tale. I enjoy Blake's prose as, while she can be verbose, it always feels like easy reading, and her descriptions set the scene well. You should expect a certain amount of bleakness if you pick up this book, but it's not entirely doom and gloom. For me, this book was easier to immerse oneself in than The Atlas Six, so it might be a good option for those new to Blake's writing. I am giving it four stars.

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