Half Bad by Sally Green

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan’s only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it’s too late. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?1

With our affinity to love witches after J.K. Rowling blessed us with the magical world of Harry Potter, one can easily slip into this world of witches reminiscent to that of the later Harry Potter years.  Witches have been around for centuries, but over time they have been separated into different factions.  There are the white witches, pure blooded and good, though it is difficult to see how they are the good ones after all the atrocities that have occurred.  On the flip side there are the black witches, obvious for their dark natures and dark magic, though not all entirely evil.  Over time there has been interactions between the two groups which have created half bloods or half codes.  Nathan is known as a half code, both white and black though not entirely enough to be one or the other.  Shunned by both sides, Nathan is monitored his whole life to determine if he will one day show which side he falls into more.  The White council could easily just kill Nathan, though the prospect of using him to get to his father is just too tempting.  Nathan’s father just so happens to be the most feared and dangerous black witches.  Having killed hundreds of both white and black witches, Nathan’s father Marcus, has the ability to turn into animals.  With this ability he has transformed into an animal to kill his victims, eating their hearts and adding his victims abilities to his own.  Marcus has been able to harness the abilities of shifting into the form of an animal, invisibility, stopping time and even flying, or so it has been said.  Little is known of the whereabouts and details of Marcus who is as hard to locate as he is dangerous.

Nathan is now in his teens, having gone for testing each year and receiving a half code status each year.  This year is different though.  Nathan has been assigned a guardian and is immediately taken to a remote location.  Here he is trapped in a cage like an animal, beaten and trained to fight every day with no chance of escape.

Young witches are known as Whets until their seventeenth birthday when they are given three gifts and the blood of a relative.  After this ceremony, the Whet becomes an adult witch and begins to harness an ability that is unique to them.  Some learn their abilities quickly, while others take months to learn and harness their strengths.  Female white witches are the strongest of the whites gaining unique and strong abilities.  Many white female witches become Hunters for the white council.  Their strengths and abilities allow them to hunt down black witches and those who defy the council.  There are some female white witches who have the common ability of potions which many male white witches obtain.  It is rare to find a white male witch with a strong ability.  Black witches have the same ceremony though many Black witches, male or female, will gain strong abilities.  Along with their tendencies to prefer being alone and killing those of their own blood line, it is not hard to see why black witches are viewed as dangerous.

As Nathan’s seventeenth birthday approaches he must find a way to escape to get his three gifts and his ability.  The only catch is he would need the blood of a relative, the blood of Marcus.  Not belonging to the whites or the blacks Nathan must journey across the globe in search of the darkest witch in history and ask for his help.  When Nathan learns of a prophecy involving himself and his father, his hopes of receiving any help or contact from his father become even more unlikely.  Thankfully Nathan gains the help of some very interesting characters and some of our favourites from the series.

Green has created a new world of witches built on our love for the Harry Potter universe.  The magic and adventure in the Half Bad world is too tempting not to fall into. With the diverse group of witches and their unique abilities, Green has created an array of intriguing and loveable characters.  Though it is not always easy to see good and bad in others and while we are taught to be good and want to be good, we can’t help but be bad and be drawn to the darkness of Black witches and the Black witch characters.

  1.  Book summary courtesy of Half Bad World webpage.
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