By Rachel Hawkins
Available now from Disney-Hyperion; Review Copy
Sophie Mercer was an ordinary girl until her witchy powers began to develop. Her mom had to tell her about her true heritage though Ms. Mercer kept some secrets. But Sophie couldn't keep her spells under wraps, and now she's at Hecate Hall (aka Hex Hall) until she turns eighteen. (I'm not sure how she began the book at her senior prom without being eighteen, but I'll go with it.)
I liked Sophie's open mind and inner strength. She doesn't go along with the other witches to fit in because she knows what they are doing is wrong. She befriends her roommate Jenna, even though she's a vampire, wears too much pink, and is suspected of a fellow student's death. But she does have her faults: she falls for bad boy Archer and allows Elodie to push her too far. (Luckily, they both know how to forgive.)
Rachel Hawkins lets the mysteries unfold at a good pace - including some surprise reveals. (There's nothing better than when an author hides a secret so well that you don't even know to look for it, yet it still flows with everything that came before.) The prose is simple, but Sophie's voice is funny and engaging. She's the kind of character you want to spend time with, which makes even the slower parts enjoyable.
I'm a little tired of obvious sequel-bait endings, but at least Hawkins resolved the major mystery. I'm not sure if I'll reread HEX HALL - it felt a touch below my reading level - but I'll happily return for the second book in the series to see where the characters go next. I can see why people were excited by Hawkins' debut - it's a charming take on the new-student-at-magic-school plot.
I have one fitted T-shirt to give away, printed on a Bella tee in S, M, or L. To win, comment with your size and what you would do to get sentenced to Hex Hall, reform school for wayward Prodigium. Contest ends March 19.
Don't forget to read Rachel's guest blog.
My HEX HALL ARC will be one of the blogiversary contest prizes.