April 22, 2018 • Cee • Reviews

Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson • April 10, 2018 • Bloomsbury
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It is 1950, and nine-year-old Willa’s sheltered childhood is about to come to an end when her mother’s beau arrives with his two sons to her family’s summer home in British Columbia. As Willa’s older sister pairs off with the older of these boys, Willa finds herself alone in the off-kilter company of the younger, Patrick. When, one afternoon, Patrick lures Willa into a dilapidated rowboat, Willa embarks upon an increasingly damaging relationship with Patrick, one that will forever reconfigure her understanding of herself.

Demi-Gods traces the tumultuous years of Willa’s coming-of-age as she is drawn further into Patrick’s wicked games. Though they see each other only a handful of times, each of their encounters is increasingly charged with sexuality and degradation. When Willa finally realizes the danger of her relationship with Patrick, she desperately tries to reverse their dynamic, with devastating results.


I received this book for free from Bloomsbury for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “We must have met the brothers in 1950, because USA had defeated England in the FIFA World Cup.”

I cannot figure where I stand with Demi-Gods—in terms of whether I enjoyed it or not. It’s a well-written book—the prose is enchanting and atmospheric. It does an excellent job setting you in this mood of uneasiness, and that feeling weighs you down because you know something is severely off.

Demi-Gods explores Willa, who we meet when she’s nine-years-old in 1950, and her tumultuous relationship with her new stepbrother, Patrick, and how that relationship has shaped her view of herself, sex, and the world around her. Willa’s relationship with Patrick is very unsettling because of the power dynamic that the two find themselves into. Theirs is an obsession; one that envelopes the both of them in this sexually charged and demeaning game they find themselves in when they are together. It can be quite disturbing and dark because of the nature of what happens, and that’s the strength of the book.

Whereas the emotions are there in Demi-Gods, the story was not. It didn’t have a lot of engine power to push the plot or these relationships forward. Willa and Patrick’s relationship was headed into a path that was gonna blow, but it never did because we never got why they’re the way they are and how they’d let it go so far. Patrick’s an enigma that we aren’t allowed to figure out because the book never goes there. We don’t ever see what their lives are like when they aren’t in each other’s lives—Willa points out that they live very separate lives. I wanted to know what they’re like the rest of the year. It doesn’t help that the book jumps from different time periods. 

I wanted a lot out of Demi-Gods. I wanted something outside of Willa and Patrick’s obsessive and troubling relationship with each other. I wanted to understand, and I didn’t.

Should you read Demi-Gods? Maybe? If you can handle an unsettling relationship between two characters who start this obsessive and sexually charged relationship when they were nine and eleven, respectively, and want to see this power struggle. There isn’t much of a plot though, and you won’t learn why Patrick is the way he is.


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