Wrath Becomes Her
by Aden Polydoros
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Pub Date 10 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 15 Nov 2023
Frankenstein meets Inglourious Basterds in this stunning Jewish historical horror novel from the award-winning author of The City Beautiful
Vera was made for vengeance.
Lithuania, 1943. A father drowns in the all-consuming grief of a daughter killed by the Nazis. He can’t bring Chaya back from the dead, but he can use kishuf — an ancient and profane magic — to create a golem in her image. A Nazi killer, to avenge her death.
When Vera awakens, she can feel her violent purpose thrumming within her. But she can also feel glimpses of a human life lived, of stolen kisses amidst the tragedy, and of a grisly death. And when she meets Akiva, she recognizes the boy with soft lips that gave warm kisses. But these memories aren’t hers, and Vera doesn’t know if she gets—or deserves—to have a life beyond what she was made for.
Vera’s strength feels limitless—until she learns that there are others who would channel kishuf for means far less noble than avenging a daughter’s death. As she confronts the very basest of humanity, Vera will need more than what her creator gave her: Not just a reason to fight, but a reason to live.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 189 members
"Our history... Our faith. It's written all over you. As long as you survive, so will we."
In the middle of the night, I jolted awake thinking about this book. It stuck to my bones like clay.
Lithuania. 1943. Vera is a golem. She is designed for one thing and one thing only: vengeance. Her creator, Ezra, crafted her in his daughter Chaya's image after she was murdered by Nazis, bringing Vera to life with ancient Jewish magic called kishuf to avenge Chaya's death and protect her people. But when Ezra goes missing, Vera is forced into the world and straight into enemy territory, and when she encounters the boy from Chaya's memories, Vera starts to understand what it is she is fighting for and what it means to be alive.
Told in first person POV, encountering the world through Vera's senses provides a deep and moving reading experience. Chaya's memories from when she was alive provide context clues at first, since Vera is so new to life, but Vera quickly comes into her own. You can't help but root for her. I highlighted so many passages, the writing is truly gorgeous.
Admittedly, the middle chapters seem a little episodic in that Vera visits a new location, meets new characters, and moves on, but it serves a greater narrative purpose by giving Vera the opportunity to learn what it means to be human, from the individual to the community, and how even the smallest defiance is a candle in the dark. Vera's journey is all forward momentum, and there's never a dull moment.
Vera and Akiva's relationship had me in a choke hold (affectionate). I'll leave it at that.
WRATH BECOMES HER is a story about war, and evil, and despair - yes; but it's also a story about community, and love, and humanity, and how survival itself can be one of the greatest acts of rebellion. Five stars.
This historical fantasy is easily one of my favorite reads of the year so far, and I was so lucky to have the chance to read it before it comes out in October. I will sing praises about this book forever. Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for the arc in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
A list of content warnings provided by the author include:
• On page murder and violence
• Death of a parent
• Body horror
Beautiful, suspenseful, and eye-opening.
This book was mind blowing from start to finish and that ending was not what I expected.
The book is historical fantasy and told through a Jewish lens. I will say I am not Jewish nor do I have that much personal knowledge , however some research is somewhat needed to understand some terms, even with the glossary. I will say I learned a lot and appreciate the opportunity to do so and see the small beautiful moments of culture and religion that Vera experiences with Jewish counterparts. Even with the somber setting. It should be noted that stories like this are important so that we never forget the atrocities of the past and do not repeat them.
Our story centers on and is told by a golem named Vera who was created by a man named Ezra for a very specific reason. Vengeance. However throughout the story she realizes that perhaps there is more to life than what we are told we must be. Also, we are not just the stereotypes people have formed. She has memories that are not hers but her feelings and opinions , she realizes , are all her own. Including how she feels about certain people like her companion, Akiva who is with her throughout the book.
Set in Lithuania in 1943 during the Second World War, we see the atrocities and destruction brought upon innocent people for their culture and beliefs. A world where you cannot even trust your own neighbor and the consequences of that situation.
Her relationship with Akiva is about what I would expect in reality. It is a very awkward situation but well written , there is a lot unspoken between them but I like the support they give one another and the lessons of trust and acceptance he gives to Vera as she navigates this new life. These lessons she will carry and use to shape who she wants to be and with whom she wishes to be.
Overall , I would recommend this to anyone and everyone. It was beautifully written and full of life lessons that anyone can relate to.
An absolute contender for the best book of 2023, WRATH BECOMES HER is a story about vengeance that doesn't shy away from the question of what it means to be human and what makes a man a monster.
Finishing this book on the first night of Passover definite has me feeling some kind of way.
I don’t read a lot of Holocaust centered books because I was inundated with them as a kid and they tended to follow the formula that taught as that, as a persecuted people, we were obligated to follow our faith as it was laid out to us by our elders. And that was difficult because. As someone who thought differently and was different, I always felt as though I was betraying their memory if I chose to go right at a fork instead of left, remembering where I came from, honoring it which IS important, in fact essential to my identity, but expressing it in a way that fit me.
WRATH BECOMES HER is the book that will let Jewish kids of this generation do that and that is an accomplishment beyond measure.