Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater

“There is such a thing as evil in this world,” Elias told her quietly. “It does not help to look away from it. It does not even help, necessarily, to look at it.” His fingers brushed through her hair, and she shivered. “But sometimes, when you cannot force the world to come to its senses, you must settle only for wiping away some of the small evils in front of you.”

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater

Half A Soul by Olivia Atwater is an absolute delight! This was the first in a trilogy, and it is a fantasy historical romance that was really beautiful. I enjoyed it so much!

When Dora is young, she loses half her soul to a lord of Faerie. This leads her to be calm, reserved and someone who isn’t easily upset or emotional. She knows and believes she should behave differently in certain situations, but more often than not, she doesn’t care. 

Her and her cousin, Vanessa. are in London to try to see Vanessa married. But Vanessa wants to see if she can find a way to get Dora the rest of her soul back. She attempts to seek out the Lord Sorcier, in the hopes that he can use his magic to help Dora. Yet Dora ends up running into Elias, the Lord Sorcier, first. Their first few meetings are whimsical and funny, and I’ve seen this book described as Bridgerton meets Howl’s Moving Castle, and I do see how Elias is similar to Howl. Elias is serious and powerful, but he has the biggest heart and cares so much about the fate of the world.

As Dora and Elias begin to meet, often chaperoned or at balls, Dora is drawn into Elias’ work in trying to cure a sleeping plague that has affected many poor children of London, all of them from workhouses. The two begin to work together, much to the dismay of her Aunt, who doesn’t want her to have anything to do with Elias. But despite having half a soul, Dora still has all the parts of herself that matters, and she can still love.

It is impossible to do this book justice. I don’t want to spoil the plot too much, and it’s really the kind of book you just have to read to experience to the fullest. I haven’t even gotten to mention how much I loved characters like Albert! Half a Soul is a whimsical, cozy book that was enormously comforting. It was exactly what I needed this week. It was pure joy to get glimpses of what the Regency era might have looked like with powerful Sorciers and the Fae not far beyond London.

But I think something I really loved about this novel was how people can come to love each other despite their imperfections and because of them. The world (especially during this era) puts so much focus and pressure on appearance and mannerisms, and often the reality and truth of who a person is can become lost. I love that Dora was so confident and strong despite the fact that she felt at times part of who she was was missing. I think a lot of people think that way- there’s an uncertainty to our actions, our decisions and our reactions to situations, and it was refreshing to read a character who lost part of herself through no true fault of her own but still managed to overcome it. It makes me believe that no matter who you are, you can overcome anything, as long as you believe and love yourself. I’m going to leave you one last quote because I loved this book so much:

“I have known many human beings with a full soul to their name who do not have half so much compassion or practicality as you.”

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater

I loved Dora and Elias’ story, and I’m excited to read more of this series. I believe each novel follows a different set of characters set in the same world and time period. This is definitely not one you want to miss!

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