Review of “Half Bad” by Sally Green

It is modern day England, but the world is full of witches, both good and bad (white and black), unbeknownst to the Muggles Fains. The white witches are deeply prejudiced against the black, and issue a series of decrees constraining their freedoms reminiscent of the restrictions on Jews when the Nazis came to power. The rationale for these edicts is that the whites are trying to rid the world of the malevolent blacks, but needless to say, it’s difficult to find anyone of any designation who isn’t very nasty. As it happens, in the name of eradicating the world of black witches, the whites seem to be expert in torture and murder.


Nathan is the progeny of a white witch mother and black witch father, and as such is called a “Half Blood” or “Half Code.” Nathan is the only known Half Code, but since his father Marcus is allegedly the most evil of all the black witches, the whites direct most of their proclamations against Half Codes, presumably to lure Marcus and his magic knife out of hiding. When the book begins, Nathan, 16, is in a cage, where the white witches have put him in order to keep him under constant surveillance as well as to beat and torture him. Much of what led up to this time is told by Nathan in flashbacks.

When Nathan is 17, he, like other witch children, can become a full witch only if he receives – on his birthday – three gifts and a drink of blood from someone in his bloodline. If this doesn’t happen, rumor has it that a black witch child will die instead. Anticipating that Marcus may show up for Nathan’s big day, Nathan is taken by his captors to the headquarters of the white witches and given painful tattoos in preparation for controlling him to make him kill his dad. Nathan manages to escape, and sets out to achieve his goals: to become a full witch; to meet his dad but not kill him; and to have a girlfriend like a Real Boy.

But the whole white witch world is after him, his birthday gets closer and closer, and he hasn’t heard a word from Marcus.

Evaluation: Neither the plot line nor the writing impressed me as very sophisticated. The characters were too much black or white (regardless of whether they were black or white witches), and the romantic subplots far too sketchy to be believable or compelling. Moreover, the female characters are either “witchy,” or giggly and silly (except for the briefly appearing Grandma), and the supporting male characters are either total evil or unconditionally loving and sensitive. The “messages” in the story are “anvilicious.” [As described by tvtropes. org, “anvilicious” describes the use of dialogue or plot points to convey a particular message in such an obvious or unsubtle way that the author may as well etch it onto an anvil and drop it on your head.] The book seems to me like a messy hodgepodge of ideas.

Note: This is only Book One of an eventual trilogy.

Rating: 2/5

Published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2014.


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6 Responses to Review of “Half Bad” by Sally Green

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    You lost me as soon as you said witches.

  2. Michelle says:

    Oh no! I really loved this one, but to each her own, right?

  3. Vasilly says:

    Damn! I thought this book would be good! Oh well.

  4. Yes! I had the same response! I thought the plot sounded so cool in this book, and I loved the cover, but I was disappointed in how the book actually played out. I don’t think I even finished it — I got maybe a third of the way through and gave up. :/

  5. Rachel says:

    I’m glad to know to stay away from this one. I have so my trilogies on my TBR list already!

  6. I liked Half Bad but you do carry some good points – everyone was very segregated. I got the impression (we will see if it turns out to be true) these lines would be crossed and blurred or scorched in the next book.

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