I’d actually planned to review Demonglass, the sequel to Rachel Hawkins’s Hex Hall today. I was going through, flipping through old reviews so I could link to my review of Hex Hall in said review. Then I realized…I did not review Hex Hall. Shame on me! So I’m doing it now. I’m a sucker for books about witches. And warlocks. And magic. And…pretty much anything. I’m also a big freaking sucker for books set in schools for any of the above. That driving force led me to buy Hex Hall, even though the cover made the books seem a little younger than I usually read. And to an extent that’s true, but I still loved this book.
In Hex Hall, Sophie Mercer is being shipped off to Hecate Hall, a school for trouble-making supernatural kids (called Prodigium), after a love spell she was trying to help a sobbing girl out backfires in a big way. At Hecate, Sophie encounters other witches, warlocks, shape-shifters, vampires, werewolves and more. More troubling than that, though, are the family secrets that keep coming up and the general sense of…not-rightness Sophie feels from the school and some of the students.
What I loved most about Hex Hall was that it was funny. I said this when I talked about Paranormalcy, but so many YA books are so dark and angsty and brooding lately, and Sophie was a breath of fresh air. And it wasn’t sarcastic, bitter funny, which there is still plenty of. It was giggle-snort-hee funny. This goes back to my saying that Hex Hall skewed a little younger than I’d normally read, and it did. But I also really didn’t mind, and I think it fit the story so well (plus, Demonglass did not seem younger which OMG SQUEE I will be talking about tomorrow). Sophie seemed young and naïve, which really fits someone in her predicament: she doesn’t really get what she is and what’s going on around her and why her family is so important.
Another reason I loved this book was Archer. He was a likable jerk. Which is hard to pull off. Someone kind of smarmy and a know-it-all who doesn’t seem unnecessarily cruel, which too often the bad-boy heroes do. Not that he was a bad boy. Or maybe he was. But not a really bad boy, if that makes sense? But the best thing about Archer was his chemistry with Sophie, which you could really see. Young adult books have been big on the fated pull sort of thing, and I’ve talked a lot about that in my reviews before. The girl makes eye contact and immediate swoon thing. And Sophie didn’t have that. Maybe we didn’t see a whole lot of the things she and Archer had in common, but you could see why they liked each other and you could see the nose-wrinkle response to more evolution really well.
I wish we had gotten to see the secondary characters more, because I liked them all and they all had an interesting back story. Those things just kind of took a backseat to the plot (which, though sometimes predictable, was well paced and fun and made me want to read the whole thing in one shot, which i did). And that is ultimately ok, because this aspect is one of the biggest improvements in Demonglass.
And…the ending. I loved the ending. I said the plot was sometimes predictable, but not in this regard (and I can’t even tell you what this regard is because that would be spoiling you). It was one of those things that you kind of suspected, that you thought something was up, but never quite put your finger on it. Which is awesome. I like to have the hints to an ending but I don’t want to guess what’s going on until it’s going on. Plus, it made for an exciting cliffhanger, one that really propels you into the second book and propels that second book forward.
Hex Hall is a fun read that I definitely recommend, if for no other reason than it will get you to Demonglass which is even better and more fun and…I will talk more about that tomorrow.