Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater // Book Review

What do you get when you combine a historical romance with a little bit of magic? You get this really enchanting first book in the Regency Fairy Tales series and fans of Bridgertons and fantasy will really get a kick out of this one. Thanks to Orbit Books for a gifted copy.

Here’s more about Half a Soul

It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul.

Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.

If Dora’s reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world. . . but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.

Bridgerton meets Howl’s Moving Castle in this enchanting historical fantasy, where the only thing more meddlesome than faeries is a marriage-minded mother.

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My thoughts

This was such a fun little fairy tale with a little bit of historical romance thrown into it as well. I was immediately swept away by the idea of a young girl having half of her soul removed by a faerie she meets one day. With one grey eye and a lot of her emotions pulled from her, Dora spends most of her life trying not to make the rest of her family look silly in front of the ton. But her and her cousin, Vanessa, are now at the marrying age and she must find a husband.

However, Vanessa has other plans and she wants to help Dora break her curse and retrieve the other half of her soul. So, they plan to go to London and meet the Lord Sorcier (the king’s magician), Elias in hopes that his magic will be powerful enough to break the faerie curse. Elias turns out to be the grumpiest grump who’s more focused on helping those in need than going to balls and finding a wife. I mean, he says it a few times throughout the book so it’s pretty obvious. But of course, Dora and Elias are the main couple of the story. I really loved Dora and Elias. Their relationship starts off rocky, but as the story progresses , well, you can imagine the rest. II will note, for those romance fans, that this doesn’t have any steam. I want to make sure that’s out there.

I’m not a huge fan of historical romances. In general, I need a bit more plot and some more themes throughout the romance to really keep me excited about it. This book has that Regency period romance, but what I loved the most about it was that it took the perspective from outside the ton. I’m not an authority on the subject, but I’ve never read a historical romance novel that looks at how the over half lives; the people who aren’t involved in the ton, who are trying to make it every day with whatever they can make, and the poor treatment of these people by people like the ton. The book explores not only the obvious tropes of a Regency drama, but it also shows the workhouses of the period. Dora and much of the cast of characters outside her own family actually use their wealth to help the needy. It was probably my favorite part of the entire book!

While they’re at the workhouse, they come across a little girl who is sleeping but can’t wake up. It turns out that she’s plagued by something that causes her to sleep without ever waking up and that becomes the main goal for Elias and Dora to figure out. I will say, this part gets a bit dull. It’s great that they are looking for a cure for this plague, but the constant reading books and studying made the story stop short without anything to continue to move it forward.

However, I did love the final part of the book and the conclusion to both Dora’s curse and the sleeping plague. I did think that it moved quickly suddenly especially with the slowness of the middle, but the ending was thrilling, the look into the faerie world was delightful, and I loved how it resolves itself.

Overall, this was a fun little book and I enjoyed it immensely. Coming off of reading Howl’s Moving Castle, I wanted it to be as whimsical as that story, but I still felt enchanted.

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