Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall may have a familiar premise — a magical child goes to a magical school and discovers dark truths and a powerful force of evil — but trust me, the execution is fresh and highly entertaining.
Sophie Mercer has known since she was twelve that she is a witch. Unfortunately for her, she’s not a very good one. When a poorly-fashioned spell gets her expelled once again, she is sent to Hecate Hall, a reform school for unruly witches, shapeshifters and faeries.
Sophie’s assimilation into “Hex” Hall is not an easy one. First of all, her roommate is a vampire whom many blame for a girl’s violent death the previous year. Before Sophie can fully absorb this news, a trio of powerful (& very cliquish) dark witches demand she join their coven to strengthen their power — when she refuses, they turn vicious in classic “mean girl” style. And if that wasn’t enough, she is hopelessly attracted to the handsome but sarcastic boyfriend of the coven’s leader. All of this spells trouble (heh), and Sophie knows it. She soon learns, however, that darker troubles await her.
There’s a lot to love about Hex Hall, particularly if you need a break from dark and gloomy paranormals. Sophie Mercer is an engaging, unpretentious heroine with a hilarious outlook on the perils of teenhood — I related to her instantly. There’s also a fair bit of swoony sexual tension in the form of Archer Cross, the boyfriend of Sophie’s nemesis with whom she is forced to do detention three nights a week. (Who knew a dank cellar could be such a perfect setting for blossoming romance? Well, if you’re a fan of My So-Called Life, you know all about the romantic potential of boiler rooms, but that’s another story…) When you combine the aforementioned humor and sexual tension with great pacing and a solid mystery, you have a book that’s incredibly hard to put down. It’s a great read for the holidays!
Best of all, the sequel, Demonglass, is due out February 15, 2011. Not a long wait, thank goodness — I’m eager to see what direction Sophie’s story takes next!