Stand-Alone or Series: Series, Hex Hall #1
Genre: Young Adult
Preview at Amazon
Description (From Goodreads):
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 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.
I am going to be completely honest with you; I'd heard a lot about this series, but I was put off by the cover. I am not exactly sure why, but it just felt a little cheesy to me and I thought the book would turn out that way as well. Thankfully, I won a copy of the book from Cynthia at A Blog About Nothing. I just received it in the mail yesterday and I finished it within the span of a few hours.
I was completely enraptured with the book, I was immediately hooked. Sophie is a fabulous character; she is witty, charming and a bit of an underdog. She has grown up among humans, which puts her at a disadvantage among the other students at Hex Hall. She is ignorant to most things relating to magic, which often gets her into sticky situations.
While she is quick to make enemies at her new school, she is also quick to make a new friend. While the quirky roommate at a new boarding school is a card that is often played in young adult novels, Jenna, is an original as they come. She is a perky little blonde, who happens to be the schools only vampire. Sophie goes out of her way to make Jenna comfortable, which, as you can imagine rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Most of the other students (shifters, witches, warlocks, and werewolves) all feel uncomfortable around Jenna. It doesn't help that there seems to be a killer lurking on campus, one who is draining its victims of blood. This makes the schools only vamp, Sophie's best friend, the leading suspect.
Like I said before, I was worried that I would find this book a tad cheesy. The cover contributed to my fear and the description of the plot didn't really help matters. However, this book was anything but. The story was beautifully written and flawlessly executed. While some of the plot points (supernaturals, boarding schools, etc.) have been recently somewhat overdone, the book is unique enough that it remains interesting. There are a number of quirky little features to the characters that make them endearing and memorable in the sea of young adult supernatural books. For instance, Jenna, the nothing like you would imagine. Like I said before, she is a tiny little blonde - who has a serious weakness for all things pink. Sophie, the main character is snarky and full of all sorts of snide comments. She is also a far cry from what you would expect a witch to be. Although she does occasionally ride a broom - which I find awesome.
Besides trying to prove her new BFF innocent, Sophie has to deal with normal teenage problems. She soon develops a crush on resident hottie, Archer Cross. Now, let us all take a moment to revel in the sheer wonderfulness that is Archer Cross.. alright, are you done? Moving on. Unfortunately for Sophie, Archer is already dating Elodie, the self-proclaimed queen of the school. Although he is taken, Sophie and Archer develop a friendship; which produces some great stolen moments. Without giving too much away, I want to say that Sophie comes to a startling revelation about Archer that creates some turmoil. It's the perfect setup for some star-crossed lover action that we all love so much. I am terribly excited to see where their relationship goes in the next book.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to say that I am totally crushing on Cal, the hunky groundskeeper/resident healer. Cal lives in a shack on the grounds, ala Hagrid style (Sophie points out). Although the exact details of his employment are sketchy at best, he is seen rocking the lumberjack look and he apparently is a rather gifted in healing magic. He tells Sophie he is their to protect the precious things, like her. Hawkins describes him as extremely buff with dark blonde hair. Let me just say, I am totally on the Archer/Sophie train, but I am hoping to see more of Cal in the future.
All in all, Hex Hall was a terrific read. It's full of mystery, excitement and humor. Sophie is a great character, who easily charms readers into rooting for her. The ending of the book provides a great jumping off point for the next book, Demonglass; which is releasing in March of 2011.