I’ve only missed one week (last week) yet somehow I feel like it’s been forever since I last had time to sit down and blog. Already 19 days have gone by in May, and while I’ve been able to tweet here and there, I’ve managed basically nothing in terms of posts for #WyrdAndWonder2023. In general, #WyrdAndWonder is one of my favorite times of year for blogging (please also check out my posts for 2022, and 2021), so I’ll admit to feeling pretty out of sorts the last 19 days.
I have excuses of course (travel . . . work . . . traveling for work), but mainly it just comes down to the fact that May is always a very busy month for me, and this May had been particularly so.
Without dwelling too much on that, let’s get to the good stuff . . . My first #WyrdAndWonder post!
If you’re completely confused as to what #WyrdAndWonder is, There’s Always Room for One More usually does a pretty good explanation (so definitely read that), but I’ll just describe it as a celebration of all things Fantasy. Generally, that gets related to books, but I’m sure any medium of fantasy is appropriate if you’re excited enough to talk about it.
There are also some prompts cooked up by the team so that each day of the month we’re (again generally) talking about the same thing, even if it’s different aspects or iterations of it. I usually find out about a couple new things each day and weep (tears of both joy and sadness) as my TBR explodes.
However, today my TBR is actually one book smaller. I’m not sure how Payback’s a Witch got added to said pile in the first place as Romance is not typically what I reach for first, but however it snuck in there, I’m happy that it did.
And because today’s prompt is “Witchy Covers” it’s a little extra relevant.
How Was It?
Good! Very good! I’m struggling a bit for a perfect comparison, but to me, it had the feel of SYFY Channel’s The Magicians (which are based off Lev Grossman’s novels by the same title which I have not yet read), which was probably my favorite show during its run (2015-2020; bring it back!!).
Within Harper’s tale, you’ll find:
- Lots of pop culture references
- Everyone is hot
- Cozy does not necessarily mean low stakes
And honestly, a whole lot more, but somewhere along the line I was conditioned to write lists in threes.
Of course I enjoyed all of that, and if you like those things you will too. If you’re here for the steam, there’s plenty. I eventually quit taking this one to work because I didn’t want to keep worrying about what face I was making while reading in the lunch room.
Perhaps slightly more unique to my interests and tastes, one of the four major witch families is said to descend from Slavic folk legend: Baba Yaga. The book did not have as many allusions as say the Shadow and Bone series, The Witcher, or the Winternight trilogy, but it was still fun to note the influences and consider them as I read.
From what I could tell, the Avramovs are just ‘slavic’, hailing from no particular slavic country that I could distinguish. Indeed the family name, Avramov, is apparently a Bulgarian and Serbian name. Talia mentions Strigoi several times which appears to be a Romanian creature.
She toasts “Nazdravye!” to Emmy back in the guest cottage which I thought might have been a weird transliteration (or mispelling) of За Здоровье! a Russian toast (related: this consistent Hollywood mix up of На Здоровье!) but it might actually be Macedonian. And then finally, Talia greets her “sestra” (sister) with “Privyet” which I think is uniquely Russian.
I don’t think all of this confusion is somehow a mistake or bad writing. Talia is often teased by the other characters for even attempting such callbacks to her heritage because the Avramov family has lived in the US for so long as to render any connections to the past meaningless. However, the whole family persist in the delusion, and Talia, for all her swagger and confidence, seems to just want to belong with them.
Without going into spoilers, place (as in geography) and sense of belonging have huge thematic weight within the novel which — for a book that feels in many ways like it was written through the hyper-reality of an instagram filter — was refreshingly true to life.
Give it a read?
Yes! I’d give this one my recomendation. Come for some steam, spend entirely too much time googling slavic phrases, and then let the existential motifs hit . . .
That’s all I have for this time. Have any of y’all read this yet? How did it make you feel? Would you read it in the lunch room? Let me know in the comments!
See you next time!
Pingback: Wyrd & Wonder Quest Log: Week Three – The Book Nook