Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
|Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins|
|Reviewer: Luci Davin|
|Summary: An American young adult story about a boarding school for witches and shapeshifters.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 276||Date: April 2010|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books|
Sophie Mercer has been sent to a boarding school for monsters after a little love spell goes horribly wrong. Hecate Hall has been set up to protect and instruct shapeshifter, witch and fae children who have risked exposure of their abilities.
As in any good school story, she soon makes new friends and enemies. Her room mate is a fifteen year old vampire with an obsession with everything pink, and Sophie must struggle to hide her disgust at Jenna’s blood consumption, as they quickly become good friends. She faces more difficulty with a trio of glamorous witches. Anna, Chaston and Elodie hate Jenna and they are frequently sarcastic and nasty at Sophie’s expense. At the same time though, they approach her to join their coven, and her reluctance to get involved makes her more unpopular.
Then there is the love interest. Archer is clever and very attractive. When they both get on the wrong side of a teacher they find themselves sent to sort out the cellar together regularly. He alternates between friendliness and nastiness, but also, he is dating Elodie.
Most of the school stories (with and without magic) that I have read are English. The American author and setting of Hex Hall set it apart. To start with, the flavour and tone remind me of Hollywood high school films like Mean Girls.
Hex Hall is also different from many school stories in that it is darker. The school is preparing pupils for a world where prodigium (witches, shapeshifters, faeries) face some serious enemies who want to kill them, and that is a reason why they need to learn some discretion about the use of their abilities.
Hex Hall is a quick and absorbing read. I really liked the spiky teenage character of Sophie and of her friend Jenna. I was less keen on the romantic subplot but this took a turn that I was quite surprised by. I liked the ambiguity and the fact that Sophie must grapple with some very serious issues.
Hex Hall is apparently the first in a planned trilogy and I had mixed feelings about the ending of the book. I liked the fact that there was no easy resolution of everything but there was a bit of a cliffhanger finish – how long do I have to wait for the next instalment?
I think girls of about fourteen up would really enjoy this.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Other stories about schools for witches include the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling, starting with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. J K Rowling may well have been influenced by Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch series - The Worst Witch to the Rescue is reviewed here – or from Diana Wynne Jones' books such as Charmed Life. Another classic fantasy novel for teenagers about a young boy growing up and learning about wizardry is Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins at Amazon.com.
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