Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review: School Spirits

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 prove her worth and 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' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as theNew York Times
 best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!   Quoted from Goodreads


I loved the Hex Hall series. I love Sophie and her snarky comments, Archer and his witty comebacks, so I wasn't sure how School Spirits would work out for me. Did I love Hex Hall because of those characters, and would new characters work for me in the same world?  No worries. Izzy is a delightful new character, and while she isn't Sophie by any means, she is her own unique self and an easy character to root for.   Plus, if you're in the mood for snarky or at least slightly off-beat comments, there's always Dex (and Torin to a lesser extent).

This book, while functioning in the same world as Hex Hall, comes off with a different feel.  It's one of those great spin-off series (like Richelle Mead's Bloodlines series)  that uses the same world, yet has a completely different main character and challenge so it doesn't feel like it's rehashing the same old problem we've seen before. 

Okay, so Izzy is Sophie's cousin, the knife-wielding girl who was always talking to Torin (the 400+ year old warlock trapped in a mirror) and hunting down Prodegium (aka paranormals) in Spell Bound.  Things have changed just a bit since they're now related to Sophie, the girl headed to be their illustrious leader, so instead of hunting paranormals point blank, they serve more as a police force, hunting only those break the rules.

First, I loved seeing Izzy go to a regular school.  I love that she chooses high school soap operas to help her blend in and that she as the resident school bully terrified of her in the first ten minutes of class (in a  dodgeball incident gone wrong).  I also liked how her friends were utterly and completely different from her, but they still became good, close friends.

Then there's Torin and Dex---the two men in Izzy's life.  Torin, well, I'm so excited to see where that is headed.  I felt like this first book was just a set up for bigger things to come, and a big portion of those things, I feel, will involve Torin--and I absolutely love that.  He is a great character.  He's half on Izzy's side, but he so ambiguous, that you never know if he's really going to help her or just trying to manipulate her.  I can't wait to see where he goes.  Then there's Dex. He's more your standard romantic lead, but he's so quirky (with his own mystery) that you can't help but love him.  And like I said before, he's so different from Izzy, he's good for her.  My only complaint with him is how rushed his ending was.  I'm glad about what happened, but I'm still interested to see how things are going to play out with this new development.

All told, this is a wonderful beginning to a spin-off series.  It does start out a little bit basic.  It's not really much more than a simple haunting.  At the same time, there's enough intrigue between Torin and the disappearance of Finley, Izzy's sister,  that I can't wait to see where this series is heading.  If you're a fan of Hex Hall, or ghost stories in general, or are simply looking for a great writer with a bouncy voice and some great one-liners, you need to pick this up.

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