Olivia AtwaterFeb 24, 2023
Half a Soul
Today I talked to Olivia Atwater about her new book Half a Soul (Orbit, 2022).
When a nasty fairy Lord tries to take young Dora’s soul, her doting cousin, Vanessa, fights him off with a pair of iron scissors—but not before he can abscond with half of his desired bounty. As an orphan, Dora is already disadvantaged. After losing half her soul, her affliction manifests as the inability to feel emotions, which puzzles and angers her judgmental aunt. Dora meets her aunt’s hostility with a calm fortitude, but her inability to get angry also means she doesn’t stand up for herself when she is mistreated.
When Dora’s aunt decides it’s time to present Vanessa to the ton in London, Vanessa insists that Dora come along, although it’s generally accepted that Dora will never find a husband at the advanced age of twenty-one. Dora is left alone at the mansion of her hostess for several days, while Vanessa is taken to fittings and shown around. She decides to defy convention and explore London on her own. While in a mysterious bookstore, she meets the only titled man in London deemed less marriageable than herself—the sneering Lord Sorcier, who specializing in insulting remarks when he’s not performing three impossible spells before breakfast.
His manner is enough to drive most people away, but Dora doesn’t react to his scorn. When circumstances throw them together, they get along amazingly well. In meantime, her meddling aunt and their hostess think they have finally found a match for Dora—the Sorcier’s best friend, a military physician who lost an arm and is not deemed a good match for most young ladies because of his injury.
Faced with the arrival of romance in her lonely life, and the discovery of vexatious injustices in society, Dora will have to sort out who or what could evoke some emotion in her damaged soul.