You know how sometimes you start reading a book and you can tell from the first page that you’re going to not just like it but love it? That’s how I felt when I started reading HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins. I was cracking up on page two and devoured the first book in an evening and two nap times (yep, still part of the Disney read-a-thon). I was dying to read the other two books, and of course the library only had those as hardbacks, so I had to wait until we returned, but I’ve now finished the whole series. So, here’s the description for the first book, and I promise to keep this spoiler-free.
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
Here are the five things I loved most about this series:
1. The humor – As I mentioned at the beginning, this book had me laughing from the very beginning. It starts with a prom that goes very wrong thanks to Sophie’s magic, but it is hilarious, and there are many more crazy situations to come.
2. The voice – I almost put this down as sarcastic voice, but there’s more to it than that. Sophie has a smart mouth that sometimes gets her into trouble and other times makes people laugh, but it’s her unique way of looking at the world, drawing on pop culture and history, that create the complete package. Here’s a line from the third book that won’t spoil anything but gives you a hint of the voice. In response to deciding whether or not to run away, she says, “…that’s like putting a Band-Aid on Marie Antoinette’s neck.” Who thinks to say something like that? I love it!
3. Archer – Once again, my weakness for obnoxious boys shines through. Archer is the perfect foil for Sophie. I love their conversations. They’re like something out of a Katherine Hepburn movie. If I still had the first book here I would give you an example, but anything I included from the third book would be spoilery, so you’ll just have to go read the books yourselves.
4. The twists – Oh, you all know I love a good twist. They keep coming in this series, and while I anticipated some of them–because Ms. Hawkins did an excellent job hinting so they didn’t come out of nowhere–there were still some surprises.
5. The pacing - These books were very quick reads, and I was impressed with how Ms. Hawkins kept up the pace, managing to introduce so many new elements without it getting confusing. It was very well done.
I loved this so much I had to read the spin-off book, SCHOOL SPIRITS, right away. I might have loved it even more, but I’m going to hold off on a review until there are more books in the series. Rachel Hawkins has another new book that’s completely unrelated to this series, so I’m off to read that, too …
Who are some of your favorite authors, the ones where you have to read everything they write? I’m always looking to add more to my list!