Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. Published 2nd November 2017.
Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson
Opening sentence: “We must have met the brothers in 1950, because the USA had defeated England in the FIFA World Cup.”
Goodreads tells me that if I loved The Girls by Emma Cline, then Demi-Gods is a read I’ll enjoy. I did very much like The Girls, and can see why that comparison was made, but for me, they were very different books. Yes, they both had young, female narrators telling their coming-of-age stories and a hazy summer setting, but where The Girls was ultimately plot driven, Demi-Gods takes a far more lyrical road.
The aforementioned narrator is Willa. 9 years-old when we first meet her and in her 60s by the end. The story begins when her mother starts a new relationship with Eugene and his two sons are brought into the mix. Roy and Patrick cause both Willa and her sister Joan’s lives to take a new, interesting and exciting turn.
Patrick and Willa develop an intense, disjointed, disturbing and addictive relationship that is a compelling thread. As well as this relationship, the novel explores Willa’s relationships with her mother and sister, and how she comes to terms with her place in all of this, ‘People applied different words to Joan than they applied to me. They described her as a ‘heartbreaker.’ My mother’s friends call me ‘sly.’ Despite this assessment, Willa is anything but, she is a character you like spending time with, but has just enough edge to her that she keeps you guessing about what she’ll do next.
Often the prose had quite a haunting quality that really captivated me and every so often there were sexual or darker elements thrown into the mix to add friction and tension. Nothing is over-explained, things are revealed gradually and there is an overall easy, languid feel to the novel that is enjoyable, but just at the right moments it throws you a curveball to keep things interesting.