Nathan has always been different. Firstly, he is a witch living in a world full of humans. He feels distinctly different. Things at home aren’t much better. His older sister Jessica hates him and does everything she can to be cruel.
You see, Nathan is different from his family too. He is a half breed born into a family of pure white witches. Nathan is part black and white witch. His father, Marcus is a black witch and no one will let him forget that.
I’m a fan of Young Adult fiction. At 31 that may seem a little strange but for me it is almost as if there is something unforgiving about it. Ironically, it is aimed at an audience who are, by nature, unsure of themselves and coming into their own as people yet the books targeted at them hold no bars in their delivery. Half Bad is one such book…and it is fantastic.
Fantasy is not a genre that I am well versed in. The few I have read I have enjoyed, however, fantasy books do not tend to be my first choice. Half Bad is appealing because of the nature of the story. Nathan is trying to find out who he is yet he is constantly coming up against forces greater than he is. He feels trapped and every chance to escape is stymie by someone who believes they know better than he does. You become so very frustrated for him.
On a deeper level, the book is about prejudice. Nathan has been judged his whole life because of who his father is. Just by living, Nathan is held accountable for his father’s sins which admittedly are plentiful. This burden is the albatross round Nathan’s neck. It is even more of an issue because of the Witches Council’s involvement. They fear Nathan, they think he will become like his father. It is because of this that they are determined to control him.
What I really liked about Sally Green’s novel is that she did not hold back one little bit. She described the torture that Nathan was put through with almost graphic realism. You cannot help but empathise with him. If compassion is the one thing that her young audience take from this novel then she has done a great thing.
Half Bad by Sally Green is available now.