“There’s these two kids, boys, sitting close together, squished in by the big arms of an old chair. You’re the one on the left.
“The other boy’s warm to lean close to, and he moves his gaze from the telly to you sort of in slow motion.
“‘You enjoying it?’ he asks.
“You nod. He puts his arm round you and turns back to the screen.
“Afterward you both want to try the thing in the film. You sneak the big box of matches from the kitchen drawer and run with them to the woods.
“You go first. You light the match and hold it between your thumb and forefinger, letting it burn right down until it goes out. Your fingers are burnt, but they hold the blackened match.
“The trick works.
“The other boy tries it too. Only he doesn’t do it. He drops the match.
“Then you wake up and remember where you are.”
–Half Bad by Sally Green
I didn’t read the summary before I started reading. Memory Scarlett of In the Forest of Stories recommended Half Bad a few months ago while I was fishing for audio book recommendations.
Though I went digital instead of audio, I was enthralled by Green’s style immediately. To the point, never an extra word to stumble on or make you think about the fact that you are reading words on a screen, and followed by an equally well-styled and far more gripping section about a horrendous situation. This book is violent and painful—its main focus is discrimination and the horrific violence that institutionally sanctioned discrimination leads to—and while it can be an uncomfortable read, I applaud Green for her ability to transfer such intense emotions from the page to my head.
Also, it is about witches. Though that feels peripheral when I think about it.
People have referred to Green as the new J.K. Rowling, and while I really wish people would stop saying things like that, I will say that Green is a capable writer who I don’t even resent for tricking me into starting another trilogy.
Would you read Half Bad based on that opener?