Posted in Netgalley, Publisher Proof

One For My Enemy by Olivie Blake

After being slowly enticed by the glowing reviews of Olivie Blake’s Atlas Six series, I finally decided to take the plunge with this one. I’m a huge fan of Alice Hoffman so magic, romance and witchery are right up my street. However, this was the same themes but with some added NYC grit and sass.

In New York City, two rival witch families fight for the upper hand.

The Antonova sisters are beautiful, cunning and ruthless, and their mother – known only as Baba Yaga – is the elusive supplier of premium intoxicants. Their adversaries, the influential Fedorov brothers, serve their crime boss father. Named Koschei the Deathless, his enterprise dominates the shadows of magical Manhattan.

For twelve years, the families have maintained a fraught stalemate. Then everything is thrown into disarray. Bad blood carries them to the brink of disaster, even as fate draws together a brother and sister from either side. Yet the siblings still struggle for power, and internal conflicts could destroy each family from within. That is, if the enmity between empires doesn’t destroy both sides first.

I found myself hurled straight into this vivid world. It is earth but harbours a secret; witch families are vying to supply humans with magical pharmaceuticals. I loved the idea that there might be another realm within our own, hiding in plain sight. Baba Yaga has a shop – like Lush but with extra ingredients – whereas the Federovs sell on the streets and in the bars and clubs of the city. The rivalry and language of their industry was very ‘gangster’, with specific territories and penalties for stepping out of line. The patriarchal Federovs and the the matriarchal Antonova sisters. The sisters, although doing the bidding of Baba Yaga, are kept in line by eldest daughter Marya, also known as Masha. The scene that grabbed me was Masha simply walking into the Federovs lair and demanding to see second brother Dima. There has been an issue with territory and Masha believes it is Dima’s fault, so she carries out a terrifying enchantment that leaves Dima totally incapacitated. I was fascinated that youngest brother Lev tries to stop her, but is held back by his brother. Is there an honour code between the families? Even more intriguing is the obvious and immediate chemistry between Dima and Masha. The atmosphere was electric, the air charged with feelings and I was drying to know what had happened before and if these two had historic feelings for each other. If so, Masha is ruthless when it comes to business, but must have been full of hidden emotion. Would she be just as ruthless when protecting her family?

This scene showed me that Masha was confident in her power and very likely the successor to her mother. Masha is overseeing the expansion of their business. I found the idea of pharmaceutical drugs touched by magic fascinating too, I wanted to know more about their effects and whether they were largely benign. Did the customers truly know the power of what they were buying? I wondered about the family’s ethics with regards to black or white magic and was intrigued by how both families used their magic differently. Lev is sent to check out the clubs and see if he can work out the Antonov family’s next move, but he is distracted from his job by a young beautiful woman being hassled by a college student. As soon as he sees her he wants to help her, but already his attraction to her is obvious. She is very assertive and assures him she can look after herself and as Lev follows them out of the club she breaks the student’s nose. Intrigued by her confidence and the way she handled the situation, Lev offers to walk her home. Every block she tells him she can manage, but Lev has fallen in too deep already and the attraction is mutual. They have a passionate encounter down a side street. What Lev doesn’t know is that this young woman is Sasha, youngest of the Antonova sisters. As the pair fall in love, Lev confides the task he’s been given by his brothers. I wondered how she would react and whether she’s think his feelings were genuine or entrapment. Lev’s feelings are genuine and I was already wondering whether this was a repeat of Masha and Dima’s story. More importantly, if it comes to a showdown between the two families, which side would Lev choose?

Considering the amount of characters, they do have depth and feel very real. I think their back stories helped and the Russian folklore woven into their backgrounds seemed to ground them. Koshchei the Deathless is a male protagonist in Russian folklore, usually cast as an evil father figure who imprisons the male hero’s lover. He is called the immortal because he keeps his soul hidden within inanimate objects. Often he would hide his soul inside a tiny object then place it inside another object, perhaps an animal, like a rather grotesque set of Russian dolls. Baba Yaga was originally a supernatural being who hides within the disguise of a grotesque old woman. In a bizarre version of her story, which I love, she lived in a kettle with chicken’s legs – rather like the archetypal witch we all know from fairy tales. She would often take a maternal role and use that to hinder a character from the story. How these archetypes work within this story I’ll leave for you to find out. Then there’s the Romeo and Juliet parallel which certainly gives us the basic plot line of two rival families, where the youngest members of each family are falling in love with each other. That’s really where the comparisons end, because this is a loose retelling so don’t expect specific characters or even the same plot lines. This is a tragedy and it’s genuinely heartbreaking, but with gritty, real violence and it’s bloody consequences, just don’t expect the same victims. I loved that the rivalries are decades old and I think there’s definitely scope for more novels in this setting.

Although I loved Blake’s descriptive prose and enjoyed her characters, I did feel that the central love story lacked a bit of depth. I could tell these characters were in lust because their scenes were hot, but I didn’t feel the love at first. Perhaps that’s because I’m an older reader though and why I was interested in the oldest sister’s story. Also there were so many twists towards the end I had to go back and re-read sections to keep up with what was going on. However, for such a big book, it really fly by and the heady mix of love, power, magic, revenge and tragedy is a winner for sure. The art both inside and on the cover is absolutely beautiful. I feel that I could easily come back to these rival families in the future and it has certainly made me want to check out the author’s previous novels. If you like your love stories dark and laced with magic, violent tragedy and witches this is the book for you. It was definitely the book for me.

Published on 20th April by Tor (Pan Macmillan)

Meet The Author

Olivie Blake is the pseudonym of Alexene Farol Follmuth, a lover and writer of stories, many of which involve the fantastic, the paranormal, or the supernatural, but not always. More often, her works revolve around what it means to be human (or not), and the endlessly interesting complexities of life and love.

​Olivie has penned several indie SFF projects, including the webtoon Clara and the Devil with illustrator Little Chmura and the viral Atlas series. As Follmuth, her young adult rom-com My Mechanical Romance releases May 2022.

Olivie lives in Los Angeles with her husband and baby, where she is generally tolerated by her rescue pit bull. More on Olivie can be found at


Hello, I am Hayley and I run Lotus Writing Therapy and The Lotus Readers blog. I am a counsellor, workshop facilitator and avid reader.

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