Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hex Hall

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkin (NY: Disney Hyperion, 2010).

Hecate Hall, aka Hex Hall, is like juvie for delinquent Prodigium--witches, warlocks, werewolves, fairies, and other assorted creatures, or monsters as the pamphlet Sophie Mercer reads refers to them, correctly translating the Latin. She lands there (her twentieth school!) for a prom spell gone awry; honestly, she thought she was helping pitiful Felicia Miller--how was Sophie to know that the boy Felicia wanted would plow his Land Rover into the gym? In addition to confronting all these things she's never encountered before--including a vampire roommate, who turns out to be really nice--Sophie misses her mom. Sure, her mother has kept her isolated from others of her kind all her life, but she's been a constant. Unlike Sophie's father, who left before she was born. He never told Sophie's mother he was a warlock until she was pregnant, and Sophie's mom has been learning as much as she could. But it's not really enough to help Sophie deal with the likes of Hex Hall, including the mean girls who want to force Sophie into their coven because they need four dark witches, and one of their number died last term, apparently from vampire wounds! While Sophie's roommate has been officially exonerated, she's still being carefully watched and the other students regard her as the most likely culprit. Add to that Sophie's crush on the cutest guy on campus, a warlock named Archer, more dead students, plus a full term of detention cataloging weird magical items with Archer, and Sophie is hugely uncomfortable.

It turns out there's a lot more that Sophie's dad hasn't told her or her mother, so along with her rude introduction to the ways of prodigia (that's the plural form of prodigium, btw), she gets a dose of family history plus the usual caldron of teen angst generated by living in close quarters with hormone-ridden adolescents. All of this makes for an entertaining read, especially since Sophie is as indomitable as she is humorous, traits she needs in spades to cope with the hand she's been dealt.

Romance, mystery, action, paranormal creatures--lots of great ingredients here, and Hawkins delivers an excellent story with something for everyone. I was a little disappointed with the ending (can't mention specifics without spoiling the novel!), but hope that the next installment will straighten that out. Highly recommended for ages 13 & up. Language, sexual situations (nothing too graphic), violence.

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