Half Bad by Sally Green

The basics

Title: Half Bad


Series: Half Life Trilogy #1

- Half Bad (March 2014)
- Half Wild (March 2015)
- Half Lost (2016)

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Goodreads Summary:

You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.


Read a full summary of Half Bad by Sally Green below. If you can’t remember what happened in Half Bad and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

This recap was written by our wonderful sidekick, Katie Fatiga @ I Teach YA! Thank you!

in short

Black Witches are bad and White Witches are good. That is the simple fact that Nathan has understood for his entire life. Except, it’s a bit more complicated than that. You see, Nathan is not exactly White and not completely Black. He’s a Half Code. His mother was a White Witch and his father (though he has never met him) is the baddest of all the baddest Black Witches in England, Marcus Edge. Nathan lives with his Gran, sister Deborah and beloved brother Arran. He must undergo yearly tests and interrogations by the Council of White Witches which he never quite takes seriously (they rarely get a straight answer out of him). He leads a relatively normal life. He’s picked on by his eldest sister, Jessica, fails miserably at school work and falls in love with an exceptionally kind White Witch named Annalise. He makes plans to run away before his 17th birthday but before he can, he is hauled in by the council and assigned to a keeper far away from his family in the hills of Scotland. There Nathan goes through his daily routine of running, washing dishes, history lessons and of course his yearly visits with the council. Unexpectedly, however, the council decides to take Nathan in for a special procedure. They tattoo 3 numbers onto his fingers that correspond to numbers on his ankle hand and neck. But before they can conclude their procedure, Nathan manages to escape the council building. On the run, Nathan seeks the aide of the mysterious Mercury who happens to be in the business of helping desperate witches of all colors. She agrees to help Nathan, but for a price: that Nathan must in turn kill his own father.

what happened in Half Bad?

  • Nathan lives with his Gran and three siblings in a small home in England.
  • Jessica is his eldest sister, she hates him. She may blame him for the suicide of their mother. Jessica completes her Giving ceremony at the beginning of the novel and his gifted with the power to change herself into any person. She uses this gift to attempt to trick Nathan, but he is pretty good at figuring her out.
  • His sister Deborah is kind.
  • His brother Arran is sweet, quiet and the perfect foil to Nathan’s often impulsive behaviors. They are best friends.
  • Nathan does not share a father with his siblings. Their father was murdered by Nathan’s father. He is Marcus Edge, the most wanted Black Witch in all of England.
  • Nathan goes for yearly assessments with the Council of White Witches. There he undergoes a series of tests both physical and mental. They ask him loads of questions which he often does not answer. They are trying to ascertain whether he knows the whereabouts of his father and whether he himself has any affinity towards his Black Witch ancestry.
  • Nathan and his siblings attend a fain (normal people) school. Nathan cannot read and struggles in most of his classes. He also has an aversion to electronic devices (they cause a loud buzzing in his head).
  • He meets the beautiful and kind White Witch Annalise at school. They become fast friends, despite the unwanted attention it earns from Annalise’s brothers.
  • Nathan is expelled from school for getting into a fight with Annalise’s brothers Connor and Niall (and the added scuffle with the headmaster and a chair through the office window).
  • Gran decides to teach Nathan at home. They go on nature walks, learn witch history and she teaches him a bit about her gift for potions. Nathan has trouble sleeping and soon realizes that he shares a common Black Witch trait, he cannot bear to be inside at night. He begins to sleep out in the Welsh countryside.
  • Nathan continues to go for his assessments but gives no indication that he knows anything about his father or anything about anything really. He is still categorized as a Half Code.
  • Nathan continues to meet with Annalise in secret but when her brothers find out, their oldest brother, Kieran takes special pleasure in torturing Nathan and leaving him scared all over his back.
  • He receives a surprising birthday invitation around his 15th year. A very old White Witch named Mary is having a party and he is the only family member invited. Nathan follows the cryptic invite instructions and manages to meet up with Mary at her wooded cottage home. She tells Nathan more about his parents and how he will have to run away soon so that the Council cannot prevent him from receiving his 3 gifts and have his own Giving ceremony.
  • Nathan finds out from Mary that his mother did love his father, maybe had always loved him. But because he was a Black Witch and she, a White Witch, they could never be together. Nathan was a product of their love and not some sort of attack.
  • When he returns from the party, the Council comes for him. They deem Gran an unfit guardian and place him under the care of a former Hunter, Celia.
  • Nathan is taken to the forests of Scotland where he sleeps in a cage outside. He lives out the routine of daily life as Celia deems fit: running, school work, push-ups, cleaning up, oh and trying to get away. But he is tied to place by a magical, poisonous dog collar.
  • One morning, the council sends Hunters to retrieve Nathan from Celia’s care. They take him to the Council offices where he undergoes the same assessments as normal. But this time, they have something more insidious in store for him. They tattoo a 6 marks on Nathan (3 along his small finger and 3 corresponding marks along his ankle, hand and neck).
  • But before they can complete the procedure, Nathan escapes the Council building and goes on the run.
  • He meets with Bob, a contact given to him by Mary, in an attempt to get to Mercury, the witch who may be able to help him have his own Giving ceremony when he reaches 17 in a few weeks.
  • Bob sends him on to Jim & Trev, a pair that provide Nathan with a passport and do a little bit of research into his unique tattoos. Turns out the witches were planning on making a Witch’s Bottle (sort of like a magical voodoo doll) using Nathan’s little finger but were never able to complete it due to the fact that Nathan escaped.
  • Nathan makes a quick detour to get a message to his brother Arran (with help of a Half Blood witch/fain named Ellen).
  • He then goes in search of Mercury. This lands him in Geneva Switzerland where he meets Gabriel a handsome Black Witch who is working for Mercury (he is trapped in the body of a fain and hope that Mercury can help him reverse the curse). Gabriel must get to know and trust Nathan before Mercury will see him. Nathan trusts Gabriel and they become friends.
  • Gabriel eventually takes Nathan to see Mercury. They stay with her at her cottage in the mountains. Here Nathan learns that Mercury will perform his Giving but the price is a bit of information about the council and of course, to kill Marcus.
  • A prophecy has been foretold that only 2 things can kill Nathans father, Marcus Edge. The first is a blade called the Fairborn. The second is Nathan himself.
  • Mercury wants revenge for the death of her twin sister Mercy who was murdered by Marcus.
  • Nathan does not want to kill his father. He does not agree to the deal but does agree to work for Mercury for a year in return for her services. She believes she can convince Nathan otherwise.
  • But first they must steal the Fairborn from the most ruthless of all the Hunters, Clay. Rose, Mercury’s adopted daughter and a White Witch is tasked with the duty. The group learns about where the knife is being held from none other than Annalise who has escaped her family and come looking for Mercury’s help. She falls off Mercury’s enchanted roof into a deep death-like sleep and Nathan is forced to send word to Rose and Gabriel to save her life.
  • Rose, Gabriel and Nathan watch the house where the Hunters are staying and keeping the Fairborn. Rose is able to use her Gift (transforming into an unmemorable mist) to sneak into the home and steal the blade but not without raising the suspicion of the other witches.
  • A chase ensues. Rose is mortally wounded and Nathan is hit in the side by a magical bullet. Gabriel (who may be in love with Nathan) returns to pull the Hunters off Nathan’s trail.
  • Nathan must return to Mercury’s by foot. The journey is long and dangerous. The poison from the bullet makes him slow (even though he is able to self heal).
  • When he finally reaches the perimeter of the cottage, Nathan realizes that the Hunters have arrived first and Mercury is in an all-out battle with them.

how did it end

Time slows to a stop and Nathan realizes that his father, Marcus, is finally there as well. Nathan’s first meeting with his father is epic. He realizes that he looks so much like his father. His father expects Nathan’s respect and Nathan expects some sort of responsibility, an answer for where he has been all of his life and why he has never come for him before. Marcus is able to remove the poison bullet from behind Nathan’s ribs. They talk about the prophecy and Nathan is convinced that his father believes that he will not try to kill him; however, he is a very cautious man. Marcus goes through with the Giving ceremony. Nathan drinks his blood and is given his 3 gifts. He feels immediately stronger and Marcus leaves too soon.
Mercury is obviously furious when Nathan returns (Rose is dead, Gabriel is missing, Marcus has come and gone and Nathan has lost the Fairborn). The only thing she has left to hold over him is his love for Annalise who is still in death’s grip (and missing). Mercury swirls away and Nathan starts off on his journey to find Gabriel.

anything else?

White Witch: The “good” kind
Black Witch: The “bad” kind
Half Code: Half White Witch/Half Black Witch
Half Bloods: Half witch/half Fain
Fain: normal people (aka muggles)
Council of White Witches: group the governs witchy-kind
Hunter: special operative tasked with taking down Black Witches
The Giving: ceremony at or around your 17th birthday in which you drink the blood of your ancestor and are given 3 gifts, one of which is your witchy power

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Half Bad by Sally Green. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!


  • stephanie says:

    in what chapter did nathan get imprisoned ?

  • bob says:

    the book is good if you get what is happening

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