Saturday, 24 September 2011

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)
Published: 2010
Pages: 323
Series: Hex Hall #1
Read: 18th September 2011
Challenge: A to Z Title (cheating a little to get X)
Status: Owned book
Reason I Read It: A review by the Story Siren.

Synopsis: When a spell she performs backfires, Sophie Mercer is sent to Hecate Hall, a school for magic users who have risked exposing themselves (and by extension their world) to humans.  While there she discovers things which her non-magical mother has kept hidden from her, and falls foul of a group of three powerful teen witches.

First Line: "Felicia Miller was crying in the bathroom.  Again."

Review: On the surface, this book may seem a bit like 'more of the same': school of magic, bitchy girls, cute boys, weird goings on and a teacher making the protagonist's life hell.  I think if I saw a brief summary of Hex Hall - like the one I just gave - I might overlook it, but I'd really be missing out.  At no point when reading did I find the book unoriginal, which may be because the magic system and the world feels different to anything I've read before.  There's depth and history and a means of combining magic users, fey and shapeshifters within a world that also features werewolves, demons and vampires and doesn't feel overloaded.

A large part of my enjoyment came from Sophie herself, who isn't perfect or beloved by all (blerg to first person protags like that) but is full of snark and faults.  She makes mistakes and has to pay for them, and a lot of why she is how she is comes from the actions of other people, rather than gifts handed down from on high that show up when she needs them.  How things are going to play out in the sequel are beyond me, which is a feeling I like in a book when it's done as it is here: I want to know because I think Rachel Hawkins will surprise me, rather than because I fail to see any logic to what's going on.

My only real problem with this book is that it is a first in a series, so there are threads left hanging at the end which I imagine will be resolved in Raising Demons (see my predictions below) and Spellbound.  Having said that, I enjoyed everything else about the book: the characters, the world, the magic system - although, again, there is a sense that as it's the first in a series there is more to be discovered.  I think this is a book which raises more questions than it answers, but I trust Rachel Hawkins enough to know that there will eventually be answers - and that they won't annoy me the way some 'revelations' in books do.

Rating: 8/10

Do I Want More? Hell, yes.  Good thing I have Raising Demons, though shame I have to wait till next year for Spellbound.

Predictions: For the next book (Raising Demons) and spoilerful for this one, so highlight to read: Archer isn't evil, he just isn't, there'll be a perfectly rational explanation for the whole Eye thing.  I think a lot of the groups who are purported to be Evil will turn out not to be, or will at least not be as one dimensionally bad as the Council would have people believe. 

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