Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher/Year: Hyperion, 2010
Length: 336 pages
Series?: Hex Hall
Genre: YA paranormal
Source: Gift from my blogging secret santa!
After a love spell ruins prom, Sophie is sent to Prodigium juvie, aka Hecate Hall, until she turns eighteen. Sophie is to work on her powers as a witch among various faries, shapeshifters, ghosts, and other magical beings. On the first day alone she is attacked by a werewolf, finds out she’s rooming with a lesbian vampire, is recruited by a coven, and starts crushing on the hottest guy in school. Witty, sarcastic Sophie isn’t quick to to make friends, nor does she love her new school. Things get worse when students are attacked and the only suspect is her only friend. When Sophie starts learning some of Hex Halls deepest secrets, she realizes that no one is safe — especially her.
I received this book as a gift from my Secret Santa, Amanda at Letters Inside Out, to be my first post-Twilight dabble into the paranormal genre. For the record, my reading of Twilight ended in 2007 with me finishing the first novel, screaming, and throwing it across the room. Hex Hall, on the other hand, did not inspire such violent reaction. I actually enjoyed it. Sophie is a likable protagonist, the plot wasn’t entirely predictable, and there’s a boarding school. They had me at boarding school. Y’all, I freakin’ love boarding school novels. Hecate Hall felt a little bit like Hogwarts at times, so I’m guessing Hawkins was influenced by Rowlings just a smidge. At one point, Sophie even makes a joke by calling the groundskeeper Hagrid. By the end of the novel, the Harry Potter similarities fade a away, and Hex Hall stands on its own and sets its own direction.
Can I also say that I loved the very girly lesbian vampire, Jenna, too? She and Sophie are good friends to each other, and I hope Jenna gets more of the spotlight in the later books in the series. Hawkins doesn’t make a big deal over the lesbian part, so that was also nice to see in a YA novel. It’s more like, “Oh, my roommate’s a lesbian? Cool. I love her hair.” And then they move on to more important things. Like demons. And not dying. And not getting kicked out of school.
FINAL GRADE: B A light, but not too light, enjoyable read. I was expecting more fluff, but was impressed repeatedly by how much I was enjoying the novel. I’ll probably read the other books, too.
Assigned Reading: Since I don’t consider myself a paranormal fan, I’d assign this to anyone who is not a fan of the genre, as you may be pleasantly surprised! I’d also recommend it to fans of boarding school books or Harry Potter. In fact, Hex Hall might be the perfect book for the YA female reluctant readers, due to the relatively short length and general “cool” factor.
Recommendations: Librarians can feel comfortable putting the novel in a high school collection, and daring librarians (I hope you are all daring!) should consider it for middle school, too (there’s mentions of sex, and the obvious witchcraft).
How do you feel about paranormal books? Do you have a favorite in the genre?