Sunday, 11 April 2010

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

1st April 2010, Simon and Schuster
336 pages, Paperback
Review copy


Cushions: 5
Daggers: 2
Paperclips: 1
Smiles: 5
Tissues: 3
Yunaleska's recommended rating: 5

Summary from Simon and Schuster

In the wake of a love spell gone horribly wrong, Sophie Mercer, a sixteen-year-old witch, is shipped off to Hecate Hall, a boarding school for witches, shapeshifters and faeries. The traumas of mortal high school are nothing compared to the goings on at "Freak High." It's bad enough that she has to deal with a trio of mean girls led by the glamorous Elodie, but it's even worse when she begins to fall for Elodie's gorgeous boyfriend, Archer Cross, and frankly terrifying that the trio are an extremely powerful coven of dark witches. But when Sophie begins to learn the disturbing truth about her father, she is forced to face demons both metaphorical and real, and come to terms with her own growing power as a witch.

Hex Hall is a book currently making the rounds in blogs and on Twitter. Naturally I was intrigued and wanted to read it. When I got it, the front cover made me think 'hm'. I expected Sophie would join the gang of mean girls, probably replace one of them, and become not a nice person. Thankfully I was wrong.

I was smiling away by the end of the first chapter. Hecate hall is definitely unusual. I personally like the fairies - perhaps in the next book they will feature a bit more. How the different races interact with each other, the prejudices and stereotypes they hold about the others influences what happens to Sophie. She isn't Miss Popular when she hangs around with the one and only vampire student in school. But at least she has genuine friend in the pink loving Jenna. Their friendship hits the rocks a few time when Things Happen (things being spoilers, so will not be mentioned here).

Jenna isn't a model student. She manages to land herself in detention a fair deal, a detention which leads To Other Things. She has to put up with Archer, a fellow student who she met at the beginning of the term, in not so perfect circumstances. Initially they tolerate each other, but slowly they get past the glares and the silence. This doesn't sit well with Archer's girlfriend, Elodie. She doesn't want anyone near him, and sets about making Sophie's life miserable.

Sophie, however, stumbles into a few magical tricks from a familiar(ish) ghost, which sort of help her with her ongoing battle with Elodie. That battle is nothing compared with the battle against the external group who are trying to kill all the students, a story line which is set to continue over the next few books. It's hard barely knowing anything about the new world she's forced to live in, let alone magic that she hasn't had that much practice with. The way magic is described had me easily picturing how Sophie and the others felt while using it. It's not just saying a few words - the magic has physical effects too. All the characters are memorable and unique, including the fairies with attitude. (I like who Sophie is, and what she is. But come on, if she had been a fairy, that would have been really cool! Not only do they have magic, they have wings! That being said, Sophie does get fly...)

Written in first person, I found it pretty hard to put Hex Hall down. Full of suspense and many 'oh no' moments, I couldn't predict what would happen next. I'm not entirely happy that I have to wait until March 2011 for the next book (estimated publication date). The way the book ends, with Sophie figuring out what she wants to next, is a nail-biting cliffhanger. It will change Sophie's life, although not in the way she thinks it will (in my view). To be fair, her life was changed the moment she was born. And that is the only hint I'm giving :)

Be sure to check out Rachel Hawkin's on her website here, which has links to her entertaining blog.

If you liked this, try Fallen by Lauren Kate


Rhiana said...

I've ordered this, really looking forward to it! Great review

Nayuleska said...

Thanks Rhiana - its staying firmly on my bookshelf.

Sarah said...

Fab review! I really loved Hex Hall & like you don't know how I'm going to wait until next year for the next book LOL. I've added your link to my review :o)

Pam said...

Love, love, love this book. Can't wait to see what happens next!

GMR said...

Egad! I so want to read this one right now (just got my copy from WORD for Teens contest...hehe) but alas, it must wait a bit (have to finish a few previously scheduled ones first)..SIGH. Your review...just increased the anticipation. Thanks for sharing! Happy reading....

Wrighty said...

I can't wait to read this one! So glad it was even better than you expected!