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School Spirits (A Hex Hall Novel, 4) Paperback – May 20, 2014
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Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy's older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.
Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it's not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it's strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.
Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?
Rachel Hawkins brings the same delightful wit and charm captured in her New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!
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PRAISE FOR DEMONGLASS "Brisk pacing, sparkling romantic chemistry and genuine heartache will satisfy fans and attract new readers to the series."--Kirkus Reviews
PRAISE FOR DEMONGLASS "Complete with maniacal spirits and one heck (hex?) of a twist, will have readers anxiously awaiting the next installment."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
PRAISE FOR HEX HALL "Hawkins' entertaining debut is jam-packed with magical creatures and mystery."--Publishers Weekly
PRAISE FOR HEX HALL "Opening Hex Hall was like opening a box of chocolates-no way could I exercise self-control! There was at least one laugh per page, a witty and self-depreciating protagonist, a.k.a. Sophie Mercer, and a murder mystery that had the pages turning themselves-either that, or one of Hex Hall's invisible Prodigium was to blame! Bottom line: Sophie Mercer has cast a spell on me!"--Becca Fitzpatrick, best-selling author of Hush, Hush
PRAISE FOR DEMONGLASS * "One engaging, entertaining story. Once readers turn the first page, it is nearly impossible to put the book down."--VOYA (starred review)
About the Author
- ASIN : 1423148509
- Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 20, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781423148500
- ISBN-13 : 978-1423148500
- Reading age : 12 - 18 years
- Grade level : 7 - 12
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.75 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #447,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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Newcomer Isolde "Izzy" Brannick's attempts to attend high school for the first time, while jointly battling a series of haunting and that quivery feeling in the pit of her stomach whenever she sees a certain boy, are hilarious, touching and a joy to read.
I've always had a special place in my heart for the Hex Hall series. I first started reading the series when I was living in London for graduate school, and feeling homesick for the States.
So when I heard that Hawkins was writing a spin-off series, I went to Amazon and pre-ordered the book, the very second the book's page went up.
(Seriously, you guys. I clicked pre-order so fast, I almost expected my mouse to be smoking.)
Even though the book doesn't officially come out until May 14th, Disney-Hyperion has also been kind enough to send me an ARC to review and share with all of you, to increase the excitement and get the word out there!
As one of the last members in a long line of Brannick women, fifteen-year-old Isolde "Izzy" Brannick's life goals have always been clear: tracking down and eliminating monsters, wherever and whenever necessary.
However, after her older sister Finley disappears during a job, Izzy's mom decides that the two of them need to take a breather from their nomadic lifestyle. She packs Izzy up and moves her to Ideal, Mississippi to start something far scarier than the things that go bump in the night: high school.
But as Izzy and her mom settle down in Ideal, they realize that it's not so easy to get away from their supernatural destinies. There have been a series of haunting at the local high school, and Izzy wants to get to the bottom of it.
As she juggles with learning how to do normal teenage things - Clothes! Boys! Sleepovers! Trashy TV shows! - and her natural Brannick instincts, Izzy will learn that she's capable of more than she could have ever anticipated.
Things that worked:
* The characterizations
Hawkins does a good job of creating an Izzy which jointly builds upon the feisty character that we first met in Spellbound, while also giving her personality traits and quirks which show us how she's matured since our last meeting with her.
I especially liked the idea that while Izzy is someone who can take out vampires in the blink of an eye - as long as their sparkles don't get in the way - she also feels extremely insecure about her ability to understand boys and anything about school.
Like Sophie, Hawkins shows us through Izzy, that even the most confident of people often have self-doubts.
The secondary cast of characters in School Spirits was wonderful, as well. They're quirky, funny and make wonderful side-kicks to Izzy.
* The themes
There are several themes incorporated throughout the course of book which will definitely be appreciated by some of the older readers - e.g. the idea that sometimes, family isn't necessarily about your blood relatives, but more about the people who understand you.
Hawkins also emphasizes the idea that sometimes, love can be the strongest magic of all. I think that this is both a wonderful lesson for younger readers to take away, but hey - it also sets up potential ideas for the sequels.
* The (continued) world-building.
Hawkins does an excellent job of incorporating details both from the Hex Hall series for fans, but has also created a world that is separate from the specific mythos of the Hex Hall world.
I feel like she's set up a lot of questions - e.g. the idea that there is more than the one type of magic that Prodigium and demons are able to do - that will have readers wondering what else they don't know about the world that Sophie and the Brannicks live in.
* The love interest(s)
Hawkins has a gift for writing male love interests who break the stereotypical mode of YA love interests. I loved the fact that Dexter wasn't a jock or a bad boy who needed a good girl to change his heart. Instead, he's strictly a smart, intelligent guy with an excellent sense of humor, who just happens to be interested in Izzy.
On the same note, I also really liked the fact that Dex made the effort to get to know Izzy as a friend first, before hinting at a possible romance. The fact that they moved slowly, is an interesting change from the standard YA romance. I think that it's not only more realistic to real life; it also gives readers more to come back for in later books.
* The bigger picture
Like her Hex Hall series, Hawkins is good at incorporating subtle details which hint at a bigger picture, and a future story ARC. I was intrigued by the mentions of Finley's disappearance, Torin's continued hints that Izzy will be his salvation, and even the mention of changes in the world of the Prodigium.
Ultimately, I believe that Hawkins did an excellent job of both having a stand-alone mission, while also setting the ground work for future books. I can see readers feeling satisfied with this book, but definitely curious enough to come back for more.
As always, Hawkins writes with a lot of affection and humor. The jokes, quips and witty lines that she sprinkles throughout the book keeps the plot moving along at a brisk and enjoyable pace, while also significantly increasing the impact of the darker and more serious moments in the book.
I especially enjoyed the utter confusion that Izzy felt when she stepped into the hallway of her high school for the first time. While not all of us have to transition from a life of fighting supernatural creatures into high school suburbia, I think we can all relate to the sheer confusion of wanting to fit in, have the right clothes, and make the right friends.
* The ending
I can generally sniff out endings from a mile away, but Hawkins genuinely surprised me with the book's multiple endings.
I felt that the ending was both well-done in terms of plotting and characterization, and also kept in line with the book's overarching idea that love is one of the more powerful forms of magic out there and family is not necessarily just about blood. I really like the "twist" at the end of the book, and I feel like it's a very significant (and good) change from anything we would have expected in the Hex Hall series.
* The cover
Ultimately, this is a minute point in the world of book reviews, but I would really like to give a big shot-out to Disney-Hyperion's promotional department for retaining the same look of the Hex Hall books for the new series.
While readers do understand that there are reasons for why a publishing house may change cover designs throughout the course of a series, (or for a spin-off in this case), it does still pain us, because a lot of us buy these books, and want our books to match.
(Yes, we're a little fussy like that - sorry!)
So I absolutely love the fact that when School Spirits comes out, it'll be able to go up right next to my Hex Hall books, and anyone else who looks at my books will immediately know that the books are from the same world.
And from a strictly esthetic standpoint: the cover is gorgeous. It not only showcases the plot of the book very well, it's also very different from a lot of the covers out there. I showed my ARC to a slightly older reader, and she said admiringly: "Well, that's lovely and unusual! It doesn't feature kissing or hot boys!"
(Not that there's anything wrong with kissing or hot boys!)
Things to consider:
I've seen some reviews say that they were disappointed by School Spirits, because it didn't incorporate more of the characters and world from Hex Hall.
I would urge Hex Hall fans that may be inclined to think the same way, to not view this as a direct continuation of Sophie and Archer's adventures. Instead, I would say that they should view School Spirits as a wonderful expansion into the world of the Prodigium and the supernatural.
Hawkins has included enough old details from both the Hex Hall series and new details - e.g. hedge witches - which make me realize, if anything, there are more secrets waiting to be uncovered about the world that Sophie and the Brannicks live in.
And quite frankly, I can't wait!
School Spirits is a story with many layers. On the surface, it's a book about a girl and her stake. (Or salt container, if she's feeling feisty.)
But dig a little deeper and you'll also find a funny, insightful book about the importance of family, love and how the people that you thought wouldn't matter, are the people you want with you the most in the end. I highly recommend this book to fans of the Hex Hall series, but also to fans of urban fantasy books in general.
Positive: I still really enjoy Rachel Hawkins' writing style. I am constantly amused by her humor and her plots move at a good pace to keep me interested. The main characters have enough depth to make the reader care about them, but are not so complex that they become emotionally exhausting to follow. Also, I always appreciate a strong and capable female lead such as Izzy, and in this book her level of self-doubt is in keeping with her age and a coming-of-age theme for the story. School Spirits provides a good set up for sequels by introducing some mysteries that are central to the characters' lives and have yet to be solved by the end of the book.
Negative: My critiques for this book are mainly motivated by my preference for the Hex Hall story-line. Had I not read those books first, I may have given this book another star. The problems and challenges faced by Sophie and Archer in Hex Hall are on a grander scale than Izzy's and her mother's problems. Sophie and Archer were dealing with forces that could save/destroy the world while Izzy's problems lie closer to home (a missing sister and school friends in danger). This makes School Spirits seem a bit less epic (and dare I say less important?) than Hex Hall. There is also a lesser degree of fantastic magic in School Spirits, which I personally missed reading about. The Brannicks are human, and therefore are not struggling to come to terms with their own magic or creating powerful spells like Sophie and Archer. This will not necessarily be a bad thing in some readers' eyes.
Overall, it's a good clean book for teens with appropriate language and relationship material. It has an engaging and adventurous plot with mystery, a coming-of-age theme, a strained but mending mother/daughter relationship, and decent set up for future books.
Izzy attends school for the first time in her life and attempts to socially interact like a normal teenager. She makes friends with a group of teens who have a club which investigates paranormal activity, but she is not sure who she can trust. She uses her wits and strength to prove herself and try to save everyone from the angry ghost of a teen who died a hundred years earlier.
The writing style is witty and fun. The plot contains a mixture of suspense and comedy. After the first scene there is not a lot of heart-pounding action, but it all works. Izzy is a likeable protagonist, and the other characters, such as Dex and Romy, are quirky and distinctive. The romance was just beginning, but there is room for growth in the next installment.
Top reviews from other countries
Diesmal dreht sich alles um Isolde “Izzy” Brannick, Sophies Cousine. Ja, einer der Brannicks aus der Hex Hall Serie. Die Brannicks sind bekannte “Monster-Jäger”, die über Jahrhunderte hinweg schon Zauberwesen verfolgen und sie zur Strecke bringen. Doch von dem einst so mächtigen Clan sind nicht mal eine Handvoll Jäger übrig geblieben und nachdem auch Izzys ältere Schwester spurlos verschwindet, ist nichts mehr so wie es vorher war. Izzy ist nicht mehr sie selbst und als ihre Begegnung mit einem Vampir beinahe in einer Katastrophe endet, beschließt ihre Mutter das Hauptquartier zu verlassen und zumindest für einige Zeit woanders hinzuziehen. So landen sie in einer Kleinstadt in Mississippi. Um Izzy zu schonen und um eine weitere Gefahrensituation zu vermeiden, gibt ihre Mutter ihr diesmal eine einfache Aufgabe – sie soll einen Geist ausfindig machen und wieder an sein Grab binden. Kinderkram denkt Izzy, doch dann merkt sie, dass hinter dem Schulgeist doch einiges mehr steckt.
Wem der Witz und der Humor in “Hex Hall” gefallen hat, der macht mit “School Spirits” nichts falsch. Hawkins lockerer, oftmals sarkastischer Schreibstil macht einfach Spaß, die Geschichte ist kurzweilig und auch die Spannung kommt nicht zu kurz. Vor allem jüngere Mädels werden an den Brannicks ihre helle Freude haben. Izzy steht Sophie in nichts nach und so liest sich das Buch dann auch sehr schnell und ist perfekt für einen faulen Sommernachmittag (auch, wenn er so verregnet ist wie die letzten Tage)
Es geht um Familie, Geister, Hexen, Freundschaften und Vorhersagen, die in den Folgebänden sicher noch eine Rolle spielen werden. Das doch überraschende Ende verführt dazu, sich Teil 2 auf den Wunschzettel zu setzen.
Von mir gibt es 3,5 – 4 Sterne für diesen Spin-Off.