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Literature / My Wife Is a Witch

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My Wife Is a Witch (Моя жена — ведьма, Moya zhena — ved'ma) is a duology, written by the Russian fantasy author Andrei Belyanin. As per the author's signature style, the novels feature a good amount of humor.

In the first novel, My Wife Is a Witch (1999), a poet named Sergey Gnedin finds out that Natasha, the Hot Librarian he married, is a powerful witch, who got her power from her grandmother's amulet. One day, Sergey wakes up to find his wife missing, only for her to re-appear a few minutes later. She explains that, every full moon, she feels the call to go into what she calls the "dark worlds", parallel worlds, where magic had won out over science. There, she turns into a wolf and runs with other wolves before returning to our world. Until now, she has managed to keep her disappearances on Narnia Time. Some time later, Sergey sees her wake up with bloody lips, and she tells him of a girl she vaguely remembers finding and fears she may have harmed a child. Sergey finds a few strands of wolf hair and absentmindedly burns them. Natasha vanishes. Then Sergey meets his personal angel and demon, Ancifer and Farmason, respectively, who agree to help him look for her in the "dark worlds". Thus begins the inter-dimensional adventure of Sergey Gnedin, a poet and a witch's husband, who finds out that, while in the Magical Land, his poems turn into powerful (and unpredictable) spells, making him a sorcerer. He also finds out that there is an old werewolf named Owl, who seeks to kill Sergey and take Natasha for himself. His adventures will take him to various worlds, from one dominated by The Spanish Inquisition to the world of the Norse Mythology on the eve of Ragnarok to the mysterious City, populated by all manner of fantastic creatures, which prove that Dark Is Not Evil. He will meet many extraordinary characters and make both friends and enemies, while fulfilling a prophecy about the only man to ever become a witch's husband.


In The Little Sister from Hell (2001), Sergey lives a happy life with his wife Natasha and their adopted daughter Freya, when his wife's cousin comes to visit for a few days. The teenage girl appears to be obsessed with Sailor Moon and cosplays as the titular character, even insisting that people call her Bunny Tsukino. The next morning, Sergey finds her wearing his wife's grandmother's amulet. Before he can stop her, "Bunny" grabs his notebook, reads one of his poems, and disappears into thin air. When Ancifer and Farmason appear to console him, he insists that they help him find the girl before his wife comes home from work. He soon discovers that the girl has somehow attained the powers of favorite character and is going around the "dark worlds", attacking anyone she perceives as evil, not caring that there are many Friendly Neighborhood Vampire-type beings there. Naturally, Sergey assumes that someone must have given her these powers for some nefarious purpose and is determined to find and return her.


The novels provide examples of the following tropes:

  • All Myths Are True: The "dark worlds" are, pretty much, this trope, since they are the worlds where magic has won over science, which allows for gods and other supernatural creatures to exist.
  • Baleful Polymorph: When fighting Owl in the past, Sergey is lifted up into the sky by Ancifer, who has grown in size. While there, Sergey reads a poem that results in him turning into a large St. Bernard, allowing him to turn the tide and defeat the old werewolf. When he goes back to his own time, he turns back into a human.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Inverted. When Sergey accidentally summons bears with a poem, they scare away the wolves and werewolves surrounding the heroes and take them to their den. After Sergey helps them stop a hunter, they promise to come to his aid no matter where or when he calls. They are among The Cavalry that appears at the end to help him battle Beliar's forces.
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  • Bigger on the Inside: Natasha's apartment in the City is huge, compared to the outer size of the building. In fact, she creates rooms at will, which she can do by being a witch. The same applies to the wardrobe, which holds an enormous collection of clothing and delivers what's needed at the moment.
  • Burn the Witch!: Sergey is nearly burned at the stake by The Spanish Inquisition for "sorcery".
  • The Cavalry: Both novels involve help arriving during the heroes' final confrontation with the Big Bad. In the first book, it's pretty much every good character encountered by Sergey over the course of his adventures. In the second, it's an angelic SWAT team that proves equal to the demonic horde sent by Beliar, followed by the real Sailor Soldiers and Tuxedo Mask.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: According to Farmason in the first novel, Heaven is run in this manner. Ancifer grudgingly admits to having undergo interviews every day to account for his actions. In the sequel, Hell adopts a deliberately inefficient version to make lives for all demons even more miserable. Farmason frequently has to run and file several reports.
  • Classical Mythology: In the second novel, Sergey heads to Tartarus to try to stop his wife's cousin from punishing all the demons there (of which there are none) and letting all the suffering souls free. The author here confuses Tartarus (a deep abyss, which serves as a prison for the Titans) with Hades (the land of the dead).
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Most inhabitants of the City as nice folks, despite being all manner of creatures that tend to be associated with evil in folklore and media (e.g. vampires, Rat Men, sorcerers, witches). Sure, they try to eat Sergey when first meeting him, but, upon learning that he is a sorcerer, they leave him alone.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Beliar is stated to be The Devil's Number Two and is the true Big Bad of both novels. He is a Magnificent Bastard and usually appears as a Man of Wealth and Taste. According to Farmason, Beliar commands 80 demonic legions and is in charge of all werewolves.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Sir Mallory, who often gives wise pieces of advice to the protagonist; at the same time, he often slips into speaking gibberish.
  • Evil Poacher: After being rescued by bears, Sergey learns that a local retired army officer regularly goes on hunts and brutally kills them. When Natasha sees a wounded bear cub, who was trampled by the hunter's horse, she vows to sink her teeth into him. His wife turns out to be a vampire, although her vampirism appears to be cured later. He himself reappears at the end, when summoned by Beliar, to kill Sergey and Natasha.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Sergey has a personal angel and a personal demon. They look just like him, except the angel Ancifer is dressed in a pristine white robe and has a glowing halo and white wings, while the demon Farmason is dressed in black, has a tail, horns, hooves, and bat wings. They frequently bicker among themselves and get into fistfights. As Sergey discovers to his surprise, it's Ancifer who usually throws the first punch, although it's Farmason who usually goads him into it. Despite being a demon, Farmason is not actually a bad guy. His job may involve him doing what he can to push Sergey to commit deadly sins, but he frequently gets into trouble with his superiors for doing good deeds for Sergey, a serious no-no for a demon. In the second novel, he reveals that Hell has adopted a version of Heaven's Celestial Bureaucracy, so now he has tons of paperwork to do each day.
  • Happily Adopted: Freya, the girl Sergey finds in a desolate town in one of the "dark worlds". He and Natasha save her from the werewolves, and they take her back with them. It doesn't take long for her to call them "Mom" and "Dad".
  • Hellhound: Sergey meets Cerberus (complete with three fire-breathing heads and a snake tail) when he reaches Tartarus. Before he gets there, someone leashes the hellish dog and muzzles all three of its heads. Later, as he's being chased by Sailor Moon-themed demonesses, intent on killing him, he reads a poem that makes Cerberus treat Sergey as its master and attacks the demonesses.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Sir Thomas Mallory is alive and well in the City, being a wise and powerful magician. The years have taken their toll, however, and he sometimes slips into incomprehensible blabbering, unaware that he's doing it. Sergey has learned to intuit the meaning of his blabberings, although he sometimes asks clarifying questions. He appears at the end as part of The Cavalry, summoned by Sergey to counter Beliar's forces, and personally dispatches Owl. Their battle is not described, only the result: Owl's wolf hide falling at Beliar's feet.
  • Hot Librarian: Natasha's day job is in a library. This is how she meets Sergey, who was invited to read his poetry there. True to this trope, she is a demon in the sack.
  • Idiot Ball: Sergey knows that magic is real and, as an extremely-literate person, should be familiar with fairy tales. And yet, he stupidly burns the strands of wolf hair he finds on his wife, causing his wife to vanish and starting him on the quest to find her. There are a number of fairy tales that start in a, pretty much, the same manner, and they're not particularly obscure.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: The author seems to be confusing Chinese and Japanese cultures with the dragon Botsu, who is supposed to be Chinese, but exhibits the classic trait of Japanese Politeness instead of Asian Rudeness. Even his name sounds more Japanese than Chinese.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: After his first night in the City, Sergey and Natasha are visited by Owl, who is enraged to find Sergey there. As Sergey goes back to bed, Natasha wakes up and doesn't recognize him. She nearly kills the man she believes to have somehow sneaked into her apartment. Later, they realize that Owl cast a spell on her to make her temporarily forget about Sergey.
  • Lunacy: Every full moon, Natasha turns into a wolf and goes to the "dark worlds" to run with her pack before coming back mere moments after leaving.
  • Magic Poetry: Sergey's poetry, when read aloud in the "dark worlds", casts powerful (and random) spells. In fact, it's pointed out that it's almost impossible to predict what will happen just by listening to the words of the poem. Beliar is trying to learn how to do this himself, but, being a demon, lacks the spark of talent, and his poetry is written only by following the rules, not coming from the soul, which is why it doesn't work.
  • Magical Accessory: Natasha's grandmother's cross on a chain was imbued with her magical power after her death. When Natasha received the trinket as a girl, she touched it and fainted, later realizing that her grandmother's power was transferred into her. Apparently, the amulet also took a part of Natasha's essence, so, when Owl stole it, he was able to use it to control Natasha. In the second novel, Natasha's cousin reads one of Sergey's poems aloud while holding the cross and vanishes.
  • The Man Behind the Man: At the end of the first novel, Sergey finds out that Owl is only The Dragon to Beliar, The Devil's Number Two demon and a Magnificent Bastard. When he goes to meet him, he finds out that the whole thing has been orchestrated to allow Beliar to learn the secret to Sergey's poetry magic. Sergey honestly explains the basics of poetry to Beliar, all the while knowing that the demon lacks that spark that allows poets to do what they do, which is, apparently, necessary for the magic to work. When Beliar tries speaking a few of his awful poems, he agrees that he will never master poetry magic, so, naturally, he goes back on his word and tries to have Sergey and Natasha killed. Sergey reads a poem and is transported home with his wife and adopted daughter. Beliar also returns in the sequel, although disguised as the Sailor Moon character Tuxedo Mask.
  • Mayincatec: In the second novel, Sergey finds himself in a "dark world" that appears to be Cholula during the Spanish invasion. Just before leaving, he appears to witness the departure of Quetzalcoatl, the (more or less) peaceful god, and the takeover of the bloodthirsty god of war Huitzilopochtli. Quetzalcoatl appears to him as a sad old man, sailing away on a boat. Throughout this part, Sergey and the author keep confusing Aztecs and Incas.
  • Narnia Time: Thanks to her powers, Natasha is able to leave our world for days or weeks at a time and come back mere moments later.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: While in the Greek underworld, Sergey accidentally causes Orpheus to turn around and look at Eurydice on their way out, causing her to go back inside.
  • Noble Wolf: The wolves Sergey meets after traveling back in time refuse to harm a child. The alpha walks up to him, looks him in the eye, and leaves, with the pack following him. The mythical wolf Fenrir also has a noble streak. Sure, he wages his war against the gods of Asgard, but he also fights fairly. At the end, when he appears as part of Beliar's forces, Sergey honestly apologizes for tricking Fenrir earlier, and Fenrir appears to forgive him.
  • Norse Mythology: One of the worlds Sergey visits is Valhalla on the eve of Ragnarok. The Norse gods call him Sigurd, and Odin values his talent as a poet. When it comes time to face off against Fenrir and his wolves, it's Sergey who comes up with the plan to trick the giant wolf into being wrapped into an unbreakable ribbon. However, the only reason he knows about is because he read Scandinavian myths. After the giant wolf is trapped, the gods depart to allow humanity to rebuild the world. Freya asks Sergey to remember her, since she knows that gods are only alive for as long as people believe in them. Sergey and Natasha name their adoptive daughter Freya, causing the goddess to reappear and thank them for bringing her back. Freya appears at the end as part of The Cavalry to face off against Beliar's forces. Besides the Asgard gods, Sergey also meets Frost Giants and accidentally summons the death goddess Hel.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: In the second novel, Sergey tries to get into Tartarus to stop his wife's cousin. On the way, he meets a centaur named, well, Centauras. Unfortunately, this centaur has poor luck with women (it's implied that it's thanks to his body odor, since he never bathes), and tries to get companionship anywhere, be it with a woman, a man, or an animal. He also likes to speak in hexameter and gets annoyed when people don't answer in kind.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Botsu is a colorful Chinese dragon, who immediately takes a liking to Sergey due to his knowledge of Chinese poetry, which the dragon adores. Speaks with a typical Chinese accent and polite to the extreme. He is also very naive, believing Sergey's initial claims that he's Chinese.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The werewolves are led by an old gray wolfman named Owl. All of them appear to be evil and have no problem harming innocents (unlike real wolves, who avoid harming children).
  • Public Bathhouse Scene: In the second book, Sergey and Sir Mallory go to a sauna to relax and help Sir Mallory recover from his wound. The bath house is a high-class establishment that includes a sauna, a traditional Russian banya, and a Japanese sento. After a very attractive girl brings them something to drink, Sir Mallory falls asleep. Sergey tries to open the door, but someone has barred it with a big wooden plank, which wasn't there before. Sergey reads a poem that allows him to pass through walls. He opens the door from the other side, but the girl turns out to be one of the demons pretending to be Sailor Moon characters, she starts a battle throughout the bath house, with Sergey using his temporary powers to run from room to room, while the girl simply blasts her way through the walls. In the Japanese section, they encounter a samurai relaxing with two geishas. Angry at Sergey and the girl's intrusion, he grabs his sword. The girl hurls her gold chain at him, but the samurai proves his skill by cutting it into seven pieces in mid-air. The girl manages to grab Sergey with another chain and is ready to kill him when Bunny shows up, realizing that her "friend" is an impostor, and battles the demoness until the latter's destruction.
  • Rat Men: Sergey ends up accidentally falling into an open manhole and is captured by short rat-like people, who take him to their general as a surface spy. Since he's the first spy they ever captured, they treat him like an honored guest. He has a nice meal with the general, who ends up revealing their entire plan to attack the City (they aren't very experienced in war). Sergey pretends to be a spy and convinces him to turn him into a double agent, all the while planning on getting the general to stop his attack. Later, Sergey finds out that his wife solved the problem by going to the City authorities and explaining what's going on. The authorities immediately send a delegation to the sewers and, long story short, the Rat Men are hired as a police force of sorts.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Sir Mallory's friend Semetskiy owns an antique shop with many rare and powerful artifacts, usually of magical nature. Unfortunately for him, someone started a rumor that the only way to get his most prized tome is by killing him in an original manner (he even claims there is an award for that). That's why he gets killed almost daily, but, since he's immortal, he comes back in the morning as if nothing happened. He does complain about constantly having to clean his own blood off his clothes. He has become a recluse, afraid to go outside, and set up a state-of-the-art defensive system. Sergey reads a poem that gives Semetskiy his confidence and adventurous spirit back, so he puts on his grandfather's sea captain outfit, grabs a harpoon, and goes after his killers.
    • This is a Shout-Out to a popular meme among Russian sci-fi and fantasy authors, who try to introduce a side character named Semetskiy, only to have him killed in an original manner, in reference to a Russian publisher named Yuri Semetskiy.
  • Savage Wolf: The wolves under Owl's control will attack whomever Owl tells them to.
  • Spell Book: A Story Arc in the second novel involves the search for the most powerful spell book in existence, created long ago by a group of scientists, wizards, and sorcerers, only to start fighting after they couldn't figure out what to do about the book. Many were killed, but some of the wizards managed to escape and hid the book, sealing it behind a magical door that can only be opened by someone who knows the words.
  • The Spanish Inquisition: Sergey's first visited "dark world" is one that appears to be in the middle of the Dark Ages with the Inquisition running wild. He is captured as soon as he approaches a traveling group of monks for being dressed in sorcerer's clothing (he was wearing a black suit and a tie; it's also revealed that Owl bribed the Church officials to arrest him). At his trial, Sergey tries to defend himself against outrageous accusations (including the "fact" that he attacked the traveling monks) using modern legalese (he used to be on the debate team), immediately convincing the monks that he is most definitely a sorcerer for using unfamiliar words and is nearly burned at the stake. The monks appear at the end, summoned by Beliar to kill Sergey and his wife.
  • Stable Time Loop: Near the end of the first novel, Sergey is sent into the past to witness Natasha's encounter with the girl she remembers before waking up with blood on her lips. He ends up interfering and fights Owl for the first time (from Owl's perspective). He saves the girl and adopts her, naming her Freya after a Norse goddess, while his wife (in wolf form) licks a wound he gets from the fight, thus making her lips bloody. This is also how Owl first learns of Sergey's existence and his name.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Sergey's wife can turn into a wolf at will (although there are limitations).
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Bunny in the second book is brainwashed to think that she really is her favorite anime character Sailor Moon and is given the appropriate powers. Convinced that she needs to find and defeat evil in all its forms, she goes around attacking anything she perceives as evil, including Friendly Neighborhood Vampires in front of their wailing children. She then invades the Ancient Greek underworld with the intention to free the souls there from torture at the hands of demons, failing to realize that there are no demons in the Greek underworld and that the "poor souls" are suffering because they were judged wanting. Naturally, when someone points this out, she blows up that pagan gods have no right to judge people, ignoring that this is before Christianity came to be and, therefore, pagan gods are the only ones who are fit to judge people (even angels and demons try to avoid being caught in those time periods, as that could start a turf war).

Example of: