“Half Wild” is a young adult fantasy by Sally Green about witches, good and evil. It’s the sequel to “Half Bad” and written in first person narrative. Nathan, the narrator, is a young witch who was imprisoned by the White Witches (the good witches) and tortured and trained to kill his father, Marcus, a ruthless and infamous Black Witch.
During Nathan’s captivity, he was tortured and experimented upon. Tattoos were placed on his body with the idea that he could be controlled and forced to kill his father.
A prophesy (actually, a vision his father had) says that Nathan will kill his father with the Fairborn, a knife. In the first book, Nathan is imprisoned because his father is a Black Witch who has killed many, many White Witches. Nathan’s mother was a White Witch, so he is looked down upon because he is not a pure blood. As in other witch books, there are pure witches (Black and White), and mixes of the Black and White and mixes of witch and human.
While Black and White might imply that White Witches are the “good” witches, and that is what the witches in the book believe (at least most of them), in the reality of the story, many of the White Witches are far more evil than the most evil of Black Witches. The White Witches have a group of specially trained witches called Hunters. Their job is to kill Black Witches. They also are not above torturing and experimenting on Black Witches.
Nathan does not meet his father until the end of the first book. It’s his father who gives him the three gifts that every witch needs to enable his “gift.” By the end of the first book, Nathan’s longtime love, Annalise, is in the clutches of Mercury, an evil Black Witch who has put Annalise in a state of suspension. She will only release her when Nathan brings her his father’s head or heart.
Nathan decides that he must find Gabriel, his best friend. “Half Wild” is filled with sexual tension between Gabriel and Nathan. Gabriel is desperately in love with Nathan, and while Nathan is in love with Annalise, he also really cares for Gabriel. Gabriel’s adoration is painful at times, and Green deftly handles Gabriel’s hurt when Nathan talks about Annalise. It’s a definite love triangle, albeit an unusual one for a young adult novel.
In this story, the White Witches are set on exterminating the Black Witches. There is a group of joint Black/White and mixed witches determined to get rid of the new head White Witch, Soul O’Brien, and his evil experimenter assistant, Wallend. The Alliance, this group, have few weapons and fewer members. They are truly the underdog against the White Witch world. But when the White Witches extend their control to Europe — where traditionally Black and White witches have co-existed with the adage “live and let live” — something has to be done so that all Black Witches are not killed.
Like “Half Bad,” “Half Wild” is exciting, beautifully written and clever. There are moral issues, moral dilemmas, and lots of thought-provoking scenes. Nathan is a protagonist who is both kind and compassionate and at the same time ruthless. Yet he is about to forgive, or at least co-exist with, some former enemies. Green shows how easily love can turn to hate when at the end of this second book Nathan has only hate to push him on.
Readers will hate having to wait for the third and final book in the trilogy. But at the same time, looking forward to rereading the first two books before starting the third will be a very pleasant task.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Viking for review purposes.
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