The fun fantasy novel Only Half Human reveals that even superpowered teenagers struggle to deal with their families.
Nathaniel Wright’s fantasy novel Only Half Human is set in a high school for wondrous beings, where a student contends with demonic magic.
Lesley is in high school, where she deals with ordinary teenage issues, including mean girls and drama. Then she finds out that her absent father is a literal demon and that she herself is a cambion, a rare creature whose blood is valued for its magical properties. And Lesley’s father wants her back: it’s time to run.
Lesley and her mother escape to Misty Hollow, a sanctuary for magical creatures like her. But even in these extraordinary new circumstances, high school remains a terrible place that’s worsened by the added task of understanding her heritage and what it means. She chooses between taking her father’s path and joining with the demons or finding a way to save her mother’s soul and stay in Misty Hollow. Her coming-of-age story is one with a twist: if she makes the wrong choice, Lesley could end up in hell, forever serving a demon.
Lesley narrates, her tone confessional as she discusses the difficulties of transitioning from the mortal world to a magical one. She thinks that if she can just fit in and lose the bat wings and the horns, she’ll be okay, but the truth is more complicated than that. Her magical struggles parallel the more everyday challenges of growing up in clear ways. She meets a cute boy who stands up for her against bullies, and “a flicker of witch-fire lingered in his eyes as he glanced at [her]”; she is subject to the pecking order at her new school, which has its own mean girl, but also a student body that includes affable vampires and werewolves.
In her way is the demon whom her mother struck a deal with, Asmodeus. His evil inclinations are familiar: he tempts Lesley with the promise of more power through sorcery and the possibility that she could master a shape-changing spell that would allow her the freedom to return to her normal life. But with each spell she casts, Lesley’s addiction to power grows, and the demon’s hold on her becomes stronger. Intrigue results, and with a nod to the perils of addiction.
Moved along by Lesley’s textured exchanges with others and her own dry wit, this is a lighthearted story despite its demonic elements. It is consumable as it works toward the foreshadowed confrontation between Lesley and the demon. A great twist heightens the drama of the story.
Only Half Human is a delightful novel that mixes magic with mythology; it follows as a girl adjusts to supernatural revelations about her origins.
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