Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Hex Hall #1
Release Date: March 2, 2010
My Source: Library
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
Sophie Mercer is a hilarious, sarcastic, and completely relatable MC who really made this book so good. Her world isn't entirely unique- paranormal creatures (Vampires, shapeshifters aka werewolves, and fey) called Prodigium, live in our modern human world, managing to escape detection of their magical powers from the clueless humans. Something I've seen in plenty of paranormal/urban fantasy books, but still providing a decent setting.
Witches and warlocks though, are something not found too often in paranormal stories. (Though they're not completely uncommon of course- Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments, and other big series include them). Sophie has known she's a witch- the daughter of a normal mother and a warlock father. After a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, she is sentenced to Hecate-or Hex- Hall, a school for misbehaving Prodigium teens.
This story is fast moving and it doesn't take long for the plot of a murder mystery at Hecate to spring into action. The story keeps you guessing the whole time, but comes to a satisfying ending. It's not really a cliffhanger, because the mystery is solved, but it still leaves a lot of open ends and more mystery for the next books in the trilogy. This is my preferred way to end the first book of a series- it was done very well.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I loved Sophie's character. Unlike a lot of other girl MC's I've read about, she was completely unafraid to stand up to the "popular" girls when they made fun of her friend and offered her to join their group. She was loyal to her friend and roommate Jenna, and helped her out, even when no one else would. She wasn't flimsy in her decisions, but she was also kind and understanding. Sophie is the kind of girl you'd either want to be, or have as a best friend, and I think she'd be a lot of fun to hang out with.
There was a romance, which I didn't connect with as much as I would've liked, but it wasn't like what the heck?!? either. It made sense, even though I would've liked to see more growing tension and interactions between Sophie and Archer, and seen her grow to like him a little more, instead of it being an instant thing.
This is a light, humorous paranormal story that reminded me a lot of other 2010 debut, Paranormalcy. Completely different plot, but similar feel and humor. I read it mostly in one sitting, I didn't want to put it down. Best word to describe it: Fun. But serious at the same time, with a great murder mystery plot. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys fun paranormal/fantasy stories like Paranormalcy. This is a awesome debut and beginning of a trilogy. I'm really looking forward to seeing where this goes!
4.5 out of 5 stars