Saturday 7 June 2014

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins book cover

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Hex Hall, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 4 / 5

Add to Goodreads

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.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Hex Hall is absolutely hilarious. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I decided to read it, but humour wasn’t on the list. I really enjoyed it.

Sophie Mercer is a witch. She was raised by her human mother, and they had to move around a lot as Sophie received her witchy powers when she hit puberty. Prodigium – witches, shapeshifters and fairies – are not supposed to show their powers to humans, so when a love spell backfires on Sophie, turning her High School prom into a disaster zone, she used up one too many of her last chances. She is sent to Hecate “Hex” Hall in Georgia, or “Juvie for monsters” – Sophie’s words, not mine – until she turns eighteen. It is a reform boarding school for supernaturals that have broken the rules and the aim is to try to teach them to be good little monsters.

I’m finding it a bit difficult to come up with a full length review without revealing spoilers. So I’m airing on the side of vagueness and sticking to what I enjoyed about the book. All the teens were very believably teenagers. I could picture them in any boarding school, just adding in some magic, fur and sparkly wings. I absolutely adored Sophie. She is such a fun and witty narrator. She’s quite like a regular teen girl, but with witchy powers that she doesn’t know how to control properly. I think one of my favourite moments is right near the start of the book, when she just arrives at Hex Hall and encounters a werewolf…

“For a second the werewolf, er, Justin, paused, his head cocked to the side, making him look less like a throat-ripping-out beastie and more like a cocker spaniel.

The thought made me giggle.

And suddenly those yellow eyes were on me.

It gave another howl, and before I even had time to think, it charged.

I heard the man and woman cry out a warning as I frantically racked my brain for some sort of throat-repairing spell, which I was clearly about to need. Of course the only words I managed to yell at the werewolf as he ran at me were, “BAD DOG!””

From that moment on, I knew I’d like the book. Sometimes when books are funny, it starts to go overboard and by then end I’m all laughed out. That didn’t happen here thankfully. I laughed out loud quite a few times, and I did earn a few disapproving glances from my dog when I woke her up giggling. Archer is our main boy crush. I liked his character. He’s quite realistic and I think most of us would have known a guy similar to him back when we were in school.

Hex Hall has is similar to most Academy or boarding school YA books out there, and the plot is as expected, but I didn’t find that off-putting. The writing is quite simple. It’s not trying to be a literary masterpiece, just a good story and I think it succeeds on this front. The mystery element isn’t anything unusual, and there is a twist toward the end that reminded me of a book I read recently. I won’t name the book as the twist is very similar, and it’ll spoil the surprise element if you’ve read one book and not the other.

I’m so happy I tried Hex Hall. It ticks the boxes for a really funny, light, entertaining and quick read with really nice characters. I’d definitely recommend it.

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