Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Series: Hex Hall #1
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.
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I picked up Hex Hall on a whim today at the library. I saw the sequel, Demonglass, on the shelf for new YA books and decided to take out both books. I’m so happy that I did because Rachel Hawkins has created an engaging world of teens with supernatural gifts and (some) emotional baggage. I’m kind of upset about it, though, since I was supposed to be working hard on school today and Getting Stuff Done but instead I’ve been glued to this book, unable to put it down. Curse the woman and her talented writing! *fist shake* In all seriousness, though, Hex Hall is fantastic. It’s captivating. It’s a wonderful example of genre fiction, with strong characters, a vividly described setting, and offbeat banter. Here’s an example:
It’s like a natural law that my mother can never look anything less than obscenely beautiful. Even though she was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, heads turned in her direction.
Or maybe they were staring at me as I tried to discreetly wipe sweat from between my breasts without appearing to get to second base with myself. Hard to say.
There’s lots of laugh-out-loud narration like this. There were other lines I found funnier but they come later in the book and I didn’t want to give anything away.
This snarky narration is only part of what makes Sophie so heartbreakingly real. She’s also full of self-doubt, unsure about where she belongs, and fiercely loyal to the people she cares about. She also has these really meta moments that I found terribly endearing. Her friend Jenna is also very real, despite being the only vampire student at Hex Hall. Some of the other characters come off as a bit stock at first but, over the course of the novel, develop more depth and become more interesting.
To wrap up, I want to say how much I adore the cover of Hex Hall. The covers for the books in this series are all so beautifully done by Tanya Ross-Hughes (with photos by Ali Smith). I love the use of reflection to show different aspects of the story. I’m not entirely sure why there’s a black cat, unless it’s to remind us that Sophie’s at a school for witches (and faeries and other members of the Prodigium) but the cover has tons of nods to the plot, which I love.
Right now, I’m forcing myself to buckle down and hit the books but the temptation of Demonglass may end up being too much for me. If it’s anything like Hex Hall, I won’t be able to put it down once I start so I want to get some work done before I give in.