After finally meeting his elusive father, Marcus, and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift – a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him.
Meanwhile, Soul O’Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?
With Half Bad, I felt there were some pacing issues, as well as a general lack of direction to the story, but Half Wild blew my doubts out to the sea. First of all, we finally get a decent plot – the White Witch Council is trying to get rid of Black Witches all together, and our protagonist Nathan is going to get stuck in the middle of it. Well, initially, he was just happy to be a full-fledged witch, coming into his Gifts, wondering what animal form he is taking and why he isn’t able to control it. Half Bad was depressing at several points, particularly because it involved torture and abuse of a child, and Half Wild kind of continues in a dark vein with Nathan starting to accept the ‘wild’ animalistic side of his Gift. Acceptance of his Gift by others is not easy – as a Half Code, he is already stuck in the middle of two worlds of Witches, but now that his Gift mirrors his infamous father’s? Good luck fitting in, kid!
Nathan as a character has a lot to go through and you can’t help but feel for him. He was treated as an outcast on account of being biracial, and his father’s long shadow is half responsible for his problems, but this is also a kid who just wants simple things, like a cottage in the woods, living with someone he loves and stuff. He doesn’t even hate his father, though he has reason to – what with the years of negligence and the very recent short meeting, but he more feels close to his father due to his Gift. This book has some touching father-son bonding moments and honestly, even though Marcus is not a good person, he makes for a great character. The other touching relationship is how Gabriel’s and his friendship develops into something more – granted there wasn’t much for this development in Half Bad and we are kind of just told in the start of Half Wild that they are best friends (without showing it in the prior book), this book showed them getting close. Gabriel is such a wholesome character – he is wholly accepting of Nathan, unlike someone else *cough* Annalise *cough* who has only seen the White Witch side of him. The duality of this love triangle also reflects his duality – and the themes of racial discrimination and bigotry are strong in this one. More attention is given to the world, too, showing us how well the White and Black witches treat each other.
That ending! I mean, I was so surprised by it. It was a high stakes climax and the way it would set up the next and final book – oh god, that would be so interesting to read! Sadly, I can’t get to the last one immediately as I have 5 other books on my currently-reading that I need to complete, but I will admit I am just itching to ditch my own rules and do it anyway.
Received a free galley from Penguin Random House UK Children’s, via Netgalley.
P.S. While the writing leaves some things to be desired, I would suggest this book for those looking for diverse reads. It has a biracial, bisexual protagonist, with reading disabilities, themes of racism as central conflict, and a gay love interest. Also, there is a gender fluid/agender secondary character?
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