Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.
Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a
modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst
humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's
most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for
survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the
three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it's
too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe
to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?
I had no proper expectations going into this, apart from vague knowledge of some mixed reviews. I'm actually kind glad I had nothing to compare it to, it was quite refreshing to read it barely remembering the synopsis, let alone the reviews.
What I found was excellent characterisation and writing style. Starts in the present, second person narrative, to draw you in but just more questions than answers. Then goes right back to the beginning, telling you Nathan's life story and succinctly explaining why he is the way he is. Nathan has had a tough life, judged by his parents, feared because of his father - never mind that he's never met him. It just sucked that everyone, even one if his sister's, treated him so horribly. And yet I can't help but think that if the Council made an effort to be nice, he wouldn't hate them so much; kind of creating their own problem, idiots!
The world building was very cool, very well done; set in the British countryside where witches lived in relative peace with the non-magical, or fains, there is a battle going on between the White and the Black. I really liked the not-so-secret witch society, where there were two factions, who were basically good and bad. But of course, from Nathan's perspective and his story, we came to realise that things are not so simple. Nathan has had to fight the Council, the governing witch power, for every little thing, from his classification (as White or Black) to leaving his town and interacting with White Witches. With the Council issuing rules that were basically just for Nathan, the whole thing had a very Big Brother vibe, which was immensely creepy.
All in all, I really enjoyed this. While I didn't always get along with Nathan - sometimes he had a little too much of his dad in him - I could completely sympathise with his awful situation. But he was tough and broke the rules that needed breaking but still wanted to keep his family safe. Most things, i.e. his Gifting ceremony on his seventeenth birthday, were completed but it left plenty of questions for me to want to find out what happens to Nathan next.
Published 27th March 2014 by Penguin. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.