Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
May Contain Spoilers
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.
When Sophie arrives at Hex Hall, she is at a distinct disadvantage. She has been raised by her human mother, and has only had a distant relationship with her warlock father. She’s never met the man, and he hasn’t been a part of her life other than through emails or occasional phone calls. It has just been Sophie and her mom for the first 16 years of her life, and they have been on the move for most of it. Whenever Sophie casts a spell and it goes horribly awry, they have to leave town and try to settle down somewhere else. Sophie has a real problem with blending in, and even when she tells herself not to interfere in her classmates’ problems, she just can’t help but think a subtle spell here or there will make things better for everyone involved. Wrong! Instead, she gets herself tossed into the witchy version of reform school.
Trying to blend in with a bunch of magic-users isn’t any easier than blending in with a bunch a normal kids, she finds out. Her roommate is a vampire, a clique of dark witches is trying to pressure her into joining their coven, and she gets drooled on by a shifter. Ick! Worse, she has a crush on Archer, the hottest guy at school, but he’s already been taken by her rival, Elodie. If that doesn’t suck enough, someone keeps trying to murder some of her classmates, and all fingers point to Jenna, her roomie! Ugh!
Once the introduction to the carefully crafted world of Hex Hall was complete, the story picked up momentum, adding a convincing tension between Archer and Sophie, as well as a gripping mystery. Since Sophie is like a fish out of water, she struggles to fit into her new surroundings, while not making any waves. It makes it easy to sympathize with her, as she begins to learn more about her father and the rest of her family, and the outside dangers facing the entire Prodigium community.
Hex Hall is another take on a boarding school for students with magical inclinations, and though I thought it got off to a slow start, it had me captivated by the conclusion. The first in a series, Rachel Hawkins takes some time to get the action cranked into high gear. The pacing was a little leisurely until about halfway through the book, and then I couldn’t put it down. Sophie is a fun, likable character, and I am looking forward to spending more time with her in future volumes.
Review copy provided by publisher