*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The Wagers
Author: Sean Michaels
Publisher: Random House Canada
Publication Date: September 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Theo Potiris is a grocer and a comedian who never repeats his jokes. After 15 years of open mikes, he’s still waiting for his break. When two other loved-ones get struck by bolts from the blue, Theo decides he can’t keep chasing his old dreams any longer. He resolves to trade his wishes in, pursuing a bigger score. Theo uncovers a mysterious association of sports-obsessed mathematicians, The Rabbit’s Foot, which is turning probability into riches, and the vigilante No Name Gang, who steal luck from those who have taken more than their fair share.
The Wagers is a very interesting book, unlike many that I’ve read. What starts off as a family-centric story, takes a turn and delves into a cutthroat, thriller-esque story. I didn’t see it coming. The first half is a bit slow as it sets up characterization for the protagonist, Theo, and then amps right up as Theo decides to branch outside of his family business to find meaning and purpose elsewhere. Theo’s weeks are relatively the same: he helps out at the family grocery store and on Fridays, he bets on the horse races. If he wins, he performs at the local comedy club and if he loses, he does not. His life changes when he learns about The Rabbit’s Foot who use statistics to predict outcomes and earn big money. Subsequently, he finds the No Name Gang who steal luck from those who have taken too much for themselves. Theo’s whole world shifts as he is drawn in by the new reality he has discovered.
This book has a fantasy/alternate-realty element to it. It certainly is an interesting blend of genres, so I think there will be readers who are disappointed, thinking the book is one thing or another. It doesn’t really fit the mold for most genres. Michaels defines something else entirely here, and I think it’s worth giving it a chance. I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty and thoughtfulness of Michael’s writing. His story is strange and mysterious, and his writing is captivating. I encourage readers to take some delight in this slow moving beginning. Michael’s writing reflects the pace of his protagonist’s life. The change that surprises Theo is meant to surprise the reader as well. Persevere, as it does pick up.
This is a unique tale and is beautifully written.