Book Review: Half Wild by Sally Green

When this book arrived it felt like a real treat – I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since I finished its predecessor, Half Bad.  It’s the second in the Half Bad trilogy, which tells the story of Nathan Byrn – a half white, half black witch living in a world where (putting it mildly) the two do not get along.

In order to talk about Half Wild I need to say what Ioved about Half Bad (apologies if this turns into a review of both!).  I listened to an interview with Sally Green on Women’s Hour last year and felt drawn into the story as she spoke about it.  There are of course plenty of stories out there about witches and wizards and all things magical but this one sounded different.  And intriguing.  A genre I love, written by a former professional (in her case accountant, in my case lawyer).  I must read this book, thought I!

Half Bad is all about Nathan himself, how he becomes a fully fledged witch and deals with some pretty horrendous things along the way.  I think that it is so tempting, especially in this genre to throw your main character straight into the acton, not giving them a chance to process what is happening to and around them.  After all we are eager to get into the adventure as quickly as possible!  But Half Bad does both adventure and character so effectively.  Sally takes us straight into the action and intrigue (I was hooked instantly) but this is unmistakably Nathan’s journey and his way through it is wonderful to read.

Nathan is a great character, developed further throughout Half Wild; again an engaging balance between action and character.  I enjoyed the other characters too: Mercury, Celia, Van, Gabriel, Annalise and Marcus to name a few – not typically all good or all bad but instead all wonderfully flawed and rounded.  Even the ‘baddies’ have elements which you want to like about them and nothing is black or white (in the usual not the witch sense!) – this theme is clear through both books.

I’m not going to give away much about the plot of Half Wild but Nathan’s story continues – he discovers his powerful Gift, given to him by his father, Marcus (a powerful Black Witch with dubious violent tendencies) and he learns how to use and live with it.  He is determined to rescue the girl he is in love with and his relationships with the other key characters develop and deepen.  And the story of the increasingly dangerous conflict between White Witches and Black Witches continues.

Sally’s writing style is punchy and distinctive and suits the story and the voice of Nathan so well.  I liked the use of the second person point of view at the beginning of Half Bad, which returns briefly at the very end of Half Wild, setting it up beautifully for the story’s conclusion in book three, which is due to be out in March next year.  So you have plenty of time to read the first two before then!

PS I know you shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but these two are brilliant, as are the blurbs on the back 🙂

PPS There’s a great interview with the author here: http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/mar/27/sally-green-interview-waterstones-half-bad-wild