I read this one awhile ago, but I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t resist sharing, just in case you haven’t read it yet…
by Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: March 2010
Description (from Amazon):
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 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.
School for magical types… hmm… sound familiar? We’ve seen this theme before, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if readers passed over this book based on the cover copy description. Unfortunately, they’ll be missing a wonderful read if they do!
This is a strong debut to a series, with realistically developed characters and non-contrived subplots. Sophie, the main character, is likable, flawed, and logical: When she develops a small crush on a guy at school, she doesn’t fall head over heels for him, but the feelings grow over time in a way that’s so natural I found myself reminiscing about my own time as a 16-year-old. I don’t know how Hawkins did it, but she captured the spirit of an intelligent, funny, and realistic 16-year-old inside this book. Hmm, maybe Hawkins went to Hex Hall herself…
I also found myself a little surprised at how mystery-oriented the book was, but this wasn’t a bad thing. When students start being murdered, Sophie suspects there’s a plot surfacing to kill off Prodigium, but when no one believes her (as you might expect), she decides to do something about it and solve the problem on her own. A significant portion of the book is given to this, and makes the story feel a bit more like a YA mystery than a YA paranormal at times, but as I said, it isn’t a bad thing.
As for secondary characters? A vampire roommate who loves the color pink and who experiences severe discrimination is one of the strongest secondaries, and the primary "bad guy" (another female student) is the kind who you feel sorry for at times, because she’s not your typical evil character — she’s just another teen trying to get by at school, doing what she thinks she needs to do to survive.
Of course, the big issues aren’t resolved in this book, and there’s a huge reveal at the end of the book that I didn’t see coming. The second book in the series releases this February, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
About the Author
Rachel Hawkins is a high school English teacher. She lives with her family in Alabama, and is currently at work on the next book in the Hex Hall series.