Book Review: Hex Hall, by Rachel Hawkins

I’ve been struggling to start a few adult general fiction books recently, but nothing has held my interest.  I recalled how Young Adult fiction tends to “clear my palette” (so to speak) for reading, so I surfed our bookshelves until I found Hex Hall, by Rachel Hawkins – a book Hyperion had sent me recently for review.

Hex Hall is about Sophie Mercer, a 16yr old witch raised by her human mother, who is sent to a reformatory school for magical beings – Hecate Hall.  There she meets other witches, fairies, shape-shifters, werewolves, and a couple of vampires (including, in a funny twist, Lord Byron…the Lord Byron), who have also misused their powers and are in danger of exposing their kind to humans.  Hecate Hall is plenty gothic, right down to its location in the steamy deep South, and filled with catty mean girls, uptight teachers, a bloody mystery, and – oh, yeah – magic.

There’s nothing terribly original about this book – whisps of everything from Harry Potter to Twilight to Sabrina the Teenage Witch trail their way through the characters and storyline.  And the plot is fairly predictable, if not satisfying with its reliable teenage entanglements (being the new girl at school, falling for the popular girl’s popular boyfriend, coming into one’s own).  Having said that…

I really enjoyed this book, primarily because of Sophie’s funny, authentic narrative voice.  I came to care for her and appreciate her perspective and experiences.  There were a few twists thrown in which saved the plot from being completely robotic, and Hawkins tied things up nicely while still leaving room for the planned second and third books in the series.  With the caveat that you shouldn’t expect anything groundbreaking or earth shattering from this book, I would happily recommended it as a fun, fast, satisfying read.

  • Reading level: Ages 11+ (there is light language, a few references to sex, and one scene of “making out”)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (March 2, 2010)

*Disclosure:  Hyperion sent me this book for review, the opinions expressed are honest and my own.  Links to Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins are associated with my Amazon affiliate account.