Title: School Spirits
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published: May 14, 2013
Buy: The Book Depository
Despite the slight character and plot clichés, the Hex Hall trilogy has always been a firm favourite of mine. Rachel Hawkins’ witty style is irresistibly good – so much so that turning a blind eye on some of the weaker aspects of her books in the past hasn’t been too difficult. This is where the reading experience with School Spirits differs slightly. While the writing doesn’t lack that distinct sharp and humorous quality that Hawkins is known for, there is a disappointingly diluted feel to the storyline here. Nevertheless, for a swift and entertaining read on a rainy weekend (which, let’s face it, is most weekends where I am), the first instalment of this Hex Hall spin-off series is just about good enough. I certainly had a lot of fun with it…
Although, for me, main-character Izzy is no Sophie Mercer, her light and effervescent personality is instantly infectious. She is a Brannick – stronger than most people and built for hunting and capturing out-of-hand Prodigium. This includes the usual; vampires, fae, witches, werewolves… and the odd wayward ghost. When a haunting at a local high school draws Izzy and her mother to a new town, Izzy finds herself on a solo mission, one that involves acting like a ‘real’ teenage girl. This, of course, is easier said than done (no matter how many episodes of ‘Ivy Springs’ Izzy manages to get through with mirror-bound Torin). Cue the grins from this point forward! Izzy finds herself in all manner of unfamiliar social and high school situations, each and every one of which prove to be highly amusing from the reader’s perspective. It’s only when she joins the school’s 3-member paranormal society that things really pick up, though.
Romy, Dex and Anderson adopt Izzy into their small group pretty quickly. While the three of them are not (knowingly) investigating the haunting for the same reasons as Izzy, the friendship between them feels genuine from the get-go. Witty dialogue is the weapon of all weapons here, and Rachel Hawkins is the skilful administrator. While the plot is lacking in some sophistication (it’s nothing particularly exciting when you think about it), the light banter and playful group dynamics just about make up for it. The highlight here is Dex. As someone who has been known to ‘rock the occasional manbracelet’ (his words, not mine!) and has an impressive collection of purple clothing, he is a refreshingly original love interest, and also incredibly delightful. Admittedly, it probably won’t take a great number of weeks before I struggle to recall his name (or any of the characters’, for that matter), but he is likeable enough, for what it’s worth.
The ending is very weak. The hurried pace gives it an almost nonsensical and juvenile feel. Coupled with the indication that there may not be a sequel for a while, this is the most disappointing part of the whole book. Still, despite the less-than-satisfying final chapters, Hawkins leaves enough of an impression with her new book to stir up some interest for more. If nothing else, I definitely want to revisit Dex’s character one day.
Rating: 3.5 stars