Review: Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater (Regency Faerie Tales #1)

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A proper mood is everything when you’re a mood reader.

I have first attempted to read this book about a year ago. But being too grumpy and sick to death of the “women MUST get married” trope at the time, I had to shelve it again because forcing myself to finish would have been unfair to both the book and me. I reluctantly put it on the shortlist again in January when I got it as part of the “get 12 people to recommend you one book each” challenge (well, 16 in my case). In the end, I was right and so were my friends – in a better mindset now, I absolutely loved it.

Dora, who has had half her soul stolen by a faerie as a child and as a result barely feels emotion, follows her beloved cousin Vanessa to London in hope of her cousin finding a husband. Dora herself has given up any hope of marriage because her inability to feel embarrassment and subsequent lack of filter leads to many a faux pas – but, perhaps, the irritable and equally scandal-prone Lord Sorcier might be able to help.

First of all, the romance! The romance is sweet and adorable and I love when two misfits find each other. The dance and the love confession scenes near the end especially were some of the cutest I’ve ever read. I’m usually very iffy with m/f due to my intolerance for traditional gender roles and that annoying thing where the female character keeps noticing how much bigger and stronger than her the male MC is (look…not everyone finds big hunks attractive 😂), but it didn’t trip any of my big turn-offs, which is an achievement in itself.

“I cross myself against the day that I might become a pleasant-mannered man, Lady Hayworth,” Elias responded acidly. “Pleasant-mannered people are simply the worst sort of people. Decent people become properly angry when presented with miserable injustice, but pleasant-mannered people never do.”

But the biggest plus for me was that once you get past the first few chapters, it’s very critical of Regency society, their hypocrisy and obsession with manners and politeness over integrity. I loved that. It thorougly addresses the way the nobility treats the poor and abominable conditions in the workhouses in a way that’s very organic to the plot since Lord Sorcier himself comes from the lowest class and has never stopped being angry at rich people and classism.

(As for the fae stuff, well…I feel like I have to mention it since it’s a fairly significant part of the plot, but I never really cared about fae either way. Neither a draw nor a drawback.)

Either way, I enjoyed it so much I immediately went to read the free novellas and got the rest of the series. Recommended!

Enjoyment: 4.5/5
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: fellow fans of sweet romance, those who want historical fiction that’s fun yet critical of society, those who like stories involving the fae
Not recommended to: I don’t know, those easily annoyed with fantasy of manners?

Content warning: some abuse towards Dora from her awful family

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