Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, UK edition

Title: Hex Hall
Author:  Rachel Hawkins
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Simon and Schuster (1st April 2010)
Source: Local library.

When sixteen-year-old Sophie Mercer discovers she’s a witch, she imagines life will be full of magic, fun and . . . well . . . broomsticks! But her first attempt at a love spell goes disastrously wrong and, as punishment, Sophie is shipped off to Hecate “Hex” Hall, a reform school for witches, shapeshifters, and faeries.

By the end of the first day among her fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag-along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person on campus and the only vampire.

Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students and her only friend is the number one suspect . . .

Rating: ***
(3 stars)

Hex Hall is Rachel Hawkins debut novel, and tells the story of Sophie Mercer a 16-year-old with magical powers. Things go a little wonky, and Sophie finds herself shipped off to reform school and a world she knows little about.

First off I just want to say that whilst I think the cover is awesome I don’t really think it reflects the story. It’s almost Bad Girl’s, which the story is not. I really like the sparkliness of the stars, which you can’t really see in the image, but really catch the light in real life. I also like how they’ve done the shadows, hinting at what the characters are.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t have high expectations when I started the book. It felt a lot like I’d read/seen something almost exactly like this before. Initially, the book lived up to my expectations and was exactly how I imagined it would be so it was a little bit of a struggle for me. However, right from the start I found myself liking Sophie Mercer. There was just something about Sophie that told me I must not give up before the end, that the story would be worth it. I found myself believing her, and by the end of the book I was glad I did.

Sophie is a really interesting character. Within the first couple of pages Sophie has shown how amazingly kind-hearted she is. But it’s not just that, I think there’s something genuinely likeable about the character. I really enjoyed reading about her. Yet it wasn’t just Sophie who was interesting, her roommate was as well, and so too were the tertiary characters – I hope Hawkins makes more use of them in future books as I’d like to see a bit more about the shapeshifters and the faeries.

The plot of the novel is pretty predictable, but it is Hawkin’s debut novel so she deserves a bit of leeway. Yet, despite the predictability of the narrative, there were a few twists in the plot that I didn’t see coming which link to the next book in the series. I liked how Hawkin’s ended the novel, even if it was predictable. It made me want to go out and get the next book in the series and find out what happens next, which is surely a good thing.

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