I picked up this book as part of Reddit’s r/Fantasy bingo, as my Fantasy of Manners square. I’m still not sure what classifies as Fantasy of Manners, but it apparently fits, and that’s good enough for bingo. It was a square I was pretty apprehensive about and wasn’t sure I’d enjoy, so when I heard some good things about The Half Killed I grabbed myself a copy, hoping for a good read. I was not disappointed.
Dorothea Hawes has no wish to renew contact with what lies beyond the veil. After an attempt to take her own life, she has retired into seclusion, but as the wounds on her body heal, she is drawn back into a world she wants nothing more than to avoid.
She is sought out by Julian Chissick, a former man of God who wants her help in discovering who is behind the gruesome murder of a young woman. But the manner of death is all too familiar to Dorothea, and she begins to fear that something even more terrible is about to unleash itself on London.
And so Dorothea risks her life and her sanity in order to save people who are oblivious to the threat that hovers over them. It is a task that forces her into a confrontation with her own lurid past, and tests her ability to shape events frighteningly beyond her control.
The Half Killed is set in first person POV, so the reader has a good understanding of Dorothea’s inner thoughts and trials regarding spiritualism. The use of first person POV allows the reader to have a nice insight into Dorothea’s life throughout the book as she develops and grows.
Julian Chissick is the other main character and very well developed over the course of the book. Quenby has done some fantastic things with her characters, such as the way she develops and portrays them throughout The Half-Killed, and I really enjoyed reading about them.
The plot follows the basic premise of a mystery novel with additional fantasy and paranormal elements thrown in. I haven’t really read many similar books which join mystery, horror, urban fantasy and historical fiction into one plot. The plot takes elements from a lot of different subgenres to build a unique book.
I’m not normally one for commenting on prose because I don’t always notice it; however, I definitely noticed how well written The Half Killed is. Quenby’s prose is very descriptive, and thus slow at times, but the book is fantastically written.
I had one small issue with the book. I opened it and read the prologue which was written in the second person. At this stage I mentally prepared myself for the whole book to be written as such, and was a bit surprised when Chapter 1 was written in first person instead.
This book is probably best for people who like:
- Historical fiction
- Fantasy of Manners
- Victorian England
- First Person POV
- Female Protagonists