Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.
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 there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?
Half Bad is an urban fantasy book where two lines of witches – Black and White live in secret among humans, in a segregated world of their own. Mixing between the two isn’t really encouraged, and they usually have territories (read Half Lies before this one, I urge ya). For this book, though, Great Britain is a White Witch territory and they consider the Black witches to be a violent community filled with evil people. Top Black Witch and White Witch Public Enemy #1 – Marcus, happens to be our protagonist Nathan’s biological father. Nathan while loved by (nearly all of) his White Witch family, faces daily discrimination right from a young age. I’m guessing with the racial discrimination theme, Nathan is the biracial kid in a community full of bigots. The Council of White Witches is keeping him alive as a tool, something to lure his father with.
The strength of this book lies mostly in the world-building, but the plot as a whole leaves a lot to be desired. It is like the origin story/training montage that is usually sped through in a movie, but lengthened here in detail. There are some great secondary characters – you have the kind ones, the evil ones, but plenty in the grey area, which makes for some well-rounded ensemble of characters. However, if you have come looking for swashbuckling adventure, well, it doesn’t start with this book at least. There is also a second person – first person alternation in the parts, which leaves some confusion; I honestly had to go back and read some parts over again. Nathan growing up is slow paced but I also understand why it was being shown – it sets up the nature of their society well, but at the end of this 300+ page book, I was left wondering how short it felt. Not a great start but I’m looking forward to how this story and this character are being shaped.