Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson

A gripping debut novel by Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner Eliza Robertson

Book Review by Galen O'Hanlon | 02 Nov 2017
  • Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson
Book title: Demi-Gods
Author: Eliza Robertson

Summer in 1950, at a beach house in British Columbia. Nine-year-old Willa is left to entertain herself while her mother focuses on fixing a morning drink, and fighting with her new beau, Eugene. Then Willa’s step brothers arrive at the beach house, and her life tilts from childhood innocence to the first awkward awareness of sexuality. Patrick, the younger of the brothers, subjects Willa to cruel games, their childishness only intensifying their brutality. In the background is an adult world of gestures and glances that Willa only half-understands (though the moment when a summer party becomes an orgy is confusingly unmissable).

These formative moments influence the next five decades of Willa’s life, glimpsed through episodes of contact with Patrick. He continues to bewitch Willa: at her sister’s wedding, in their house in LA, on a boat trip. Only when the power dynamic is finally reversed, and Willa inflicts a kind of torture of her own, is the spell broken – though the results are not what you might think. 

A past winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Robertson’s prose is swift and sharp. She has a shrewd eye for vivid detail, capturing the dissolution of childhood with remarkable intensity. It’s a gripping debut novel from a very promising writer. 

Out 2 Nov, published by Bloomsbury, RRP £12.99