Book Wake

Following good stories wherever they lead

Blood and Witches: Half Bad


When we first meet Nathan, he’s introducing us to his cage.

The shackles hurt, but the animal skins on the floor are nice. Surroundings are picturesque, outside the bars: mountains in the distance. His company — his captor — is less than kind…but whose life is perfect?

How did he get here?

That’s another story.

Nathan is a half-blood witch in a world where there are only two kinds: White and Black. And they don’t mix.


He grows up with his White-blood family, grimly facing down a society that doesn’t want him to exist. Some are allies — his half-siblings, Arran and Deborah, and his gran — but they are exceptions, and subject to the crossfire.

Nathan has developed many tricks in order to survive. The first is lying to himself. The second is lying to others. The third, the hardest trick, is keeping track of which is which.

His narration is sparse, clipped, and pitch-perfect. He drags you into places you don’t want to be through sheer force and clarity. Wanting, he knows, doesn’t matter after a certain point. Things happen, and begging won’t stop that.

There are few joys in his life, but one is roaming the Welsh countryside, secret and forbidden. Another is thinking of his father — the terrifyingly powerful black witch Marcus — and imagining being reunited. And a third joy, equally shameful: experimenting with magic.

The pacing is tight, with short chapters clipped together in a loose frame, so you’ll find yourself easily reading more than you planned in a sitting. Also, a tip: pay attention to the chapter titles. They matter.

And most of all, pay attention to Nathan, because seeing who he is and what he becomes…that’s a trick you don’t want to miss.


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This entry was posted on October 10, 2014 by in Fantasy, Magic, YA and tagged , , .
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