Half a Soul

By Olivia Atwater,

Book cover of Half a Soul

Book description

“Whimsical, witty, and brimming over with charm” (India Holton), Olivia Atwater’s delightful debut will transport you to a magical version of Regency England, where the only thing more meddlesome than a fairy is a marriage-minded mother!

It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Half a Soul as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Half a Soul takes two of my most favorite things, fantasy and Regency England, and mashes them together into a fascinating tale that kept me thinking days after I finished the book.

Dora comes to live with her beloved cousin and best friend after her parents both passed away. As a child, she has an unfortunate run-in with a Fairy Lord who steals half of her soul, leaving Dora unable to feel anything.

Now quite grown up and ready to enter society, Dora and her cousin travel to England for the season. You can imagine what happens when a girl…

Atwater’s Regency fairy tales include not just human magicians but also the fae.

In Half a Soul, an elvin lord tries to steal Theadora Etting’s soul, but her quick-thinking cousin helps her preserve half of it. With only half a soul, though, Dora both thinks differently and feels emotions differently than other people. (Author Olivia Atwater has said that Dora’s magical condition parallels real-life neurodivergence, and autistic readers may see themselves in Dora.)

Because of those differences, Dora believes herself to be unlovable, but she is proven gloriously wrong when she encounters Elias Wilder, one of the most powerful sorcerers…

Olivia Atwater’s Half a Soul is an absolute delight that deserves much more attention than it has yet received. The story features Dora, a young, faerie-cursed woman who lost the half of her soul responsible for feelings like fear, sadness, and embarrassment. Without the ability to be embarrassed, Dora gets into quite a bit of trouble—especially verbally—as she tends to make some rather scandalous remarks. These idiosyncrasies cause significant distress for her mother, whose hope rests on Dora finding a husband during the London Season.  

Dora’s dry, matter-of-fact take on the world—and love—is one of the most unique character voices…

I’m a sucker for a good regency romance/urban fantasy mashup, and this one involving magic, sorcerers, and the mysterious fae was delightful. The protagonist having only “half a soul” and therefore immune to people’s opinions made her the perfect vehicle for the most amusing dialog and commentary you can imagine. The romance was well-paced and swoon-worthy (and on the clean side, which I prefer), the characters engaging, the plot twisty and satisfying. Overall a very fun read!

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