This is one of those “take a chance” books for me. The only other book I’ve read by Olivie Blake was The Atlas Six, which just wasn’t really my thing. However, I was intrigued by the names Baba Yaga and Koschei the Deathless as well as the idea of mafia-like magical families.
There were things I liked and things that really somewhat irked me. The setup has the Romeo and Juliet obsession (yeah…not calling that love) to it, which kind of sets the tone. Everything has heightened stakes, although much of it is in the minds of the characters. There were a few separate storylines that intermingled here and there, finally coming together toward the end.
There was a cast of characters listed at the beginning of the book which I always appreciate, especially since each character had a nickname or two. I didn’t need to refer to it all that much, but it helped in the first few chapters.
The Romeo and Juliet stand-ins irritated me, possibly even more than the Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet which is kind of an accomplishment. They were just so darn obnoxious! I suspect some of this is due to the fact that I am rapidly heading toward the “get off my lawn, you hooligans” stage of adulthood. On the other hand, due to the fact that much of their interactions came from one-word text messages, there wasn’t any chance of character development from either of them. It made their motivations unbelievable. And, good gravy, the drama! Even for the Romeos and Juliets of the literary world, these two went above and beyond.
The heads of both magical mafia families were intriguing but didn’t get as much page time as I expected. This isn’t exactly a Romeo and Juliet story; rather, it took its inspiration from the play. Because of the deviations, I was hoping for more time from these mysterious leaders. I did like what was there, though. The way their backgrounds were slowly revealed kept them interesting throughout.
There were two characters who stood out to me. Their parts were what kept me reading, despite my tepid reaction to much of the rest of One for My Enemy. These were Marya/Masha and The Bridge. Masha was the oldest of the Anotonova daughters and heir to her mother’s (“Baba Yaga”) illegal enterprise. She was ruthless and manipulative, turning everything and everyone into a weapon to be used for her purposes. What I loved about her was that no one was off limits in her machinations, not even those she loved. It made for a character that I loved to hate. I don’t need to relate to or even like a character to enjoy reading about them, if that character is well-written. And Masha was.
The Bridge was a fickle character who thrived on making- and breaking- deals. He always had justification for his actions and could find a way around whatever bargain he had made, if he decided it didn’t suit him. His curiosity was, of course, what hurt him, but it allowed the reader insight that couldn’t otherwise be given naturally. He walked a fine line between cleverness and recklessness.
The pacing of the story was a little bit off. There were chunks that seemed to be rushed and then parts that were done in a way that seemed repetitive. As much as I loved the character of The Bridge, there were far too many scenes of him having pretty much the same conversation. It got to the point where I started to struggle with his parts. They didn’t really add to the storyline, and I lost interest after a while.
Alas, One for My Enemy was not for me. I expected a different story than the one the author told and the book and I ended up not being friends. There was much to like, I just am not the right reader.