In Half Breed Marcia Colette tells the story of human werewolf hybrid Alexa York. This urban fantasy challenges the subgenre’s norm to present the reader with an unlikely heroine. Alexa is a lethal killer, a loving wife, and a member of two cultures that see her as an anomaly.
When I started reading Half Breed, I knew it didn’t fit Pagan Culture’s main them. I told myself that the novel just wasn’t witchy enough. Then I read a post by Cynthia Clay and my reviewing perspective changed drastically. I started to read Half Breed through Eclectic Pagan eyes.
I examined Alexa carefully and realized that her life was very similar to that of a Solitary Eclectic Witch. She possesses qualities—and faults—from all the cultures that have touched her life, which makes her not good enough for any. Alexa is her own person and she has to make up rules as she goes. At first look, one might think that this is exactly what happens in every urban fantasy: a hot girl kicks butt, has lots of sex, and then safes the day. Wrong.
Marcia Colette’s novel touches on prejudice, racism, cultural assimilation, tolerance and more. And she does it without letting the reading forget that this is a shapeshifting novel. I’ve read novels that are almost as complex as this one, but not by an author who is so fresh to the genre. There was one aspect of Half Breed where Marcia’s novelty is noticeable. I found her insistence to describe characters’ appearances over and over a bit distracting, but when she showed me what her werewolves when through when they shifted, all distractions were forgotten. I’ve never read a werewolf novel that made me close my eyes in pain, because the words made me feel the crack of the characters’ ribs as they left their human shape behind.
I was absolutely amazed by the way Marcia presented werewolf culture in Half Breed. Most shapeshifting novels, I’ve read, portrayed werewolves as being very comfortable with nudity and sexuality. They are a cohesive community. Marcia went further. She showed werewolves licking each other’s faces in a very nonsexual way, just to learn more about each other and to show familial affection—just like kittens do. However, don’t expect Half Breed to be a tale of loving kitties. Marcia’s wolves are very territorial and if their comfort or that of their loved ones is compromised, they will become ruthless killers.
You are probably still wondering how Half Breed fits Pagan Culture and that is my fault. I liked the book so much that I wanted to share every detail. So I almost forgot to let you know what got me hooked and made this book a candidate for a Pagan Culture review. It was Alexa. I did not like her at first. I found her to be arrogant, selfish and her erratic behavior got on my nerves more than once. Then it happened; as the novel developed and I learned more about Alexa, I understood why she acted the way she did. This woman was kicked and spat on by two cultures. The only thing that kept her alive was the fact that she always kicked back a way harder.
On the surface Alexa is a kick ass urban fantasy heroine, but look in deeper and you’ll find a being who is very similar to a Solitary Eclectic Witch. She loves and protects the people and cultures that have helped her become who she is. She won’t hesitate before sticking an arrow between the eyes of anyone or anything that threatens their wellbeing. Experience taught her that faltering might mean losing everything she cares for—including her own life and identity.