Since Rachel Hawkins and Ally Carter were touring together, and both are published by Disney’s Hyperion, it seemed only fitting that I’d read them one after the other and review them in that way as well. I really enjoyed the first two books in the Hex Hall series, especially Demonglass. I liked them because they were fun and funny and didn’t take themselves too seriously, even with all the drama that was going on. Spellbound is the final novel in the trilogy, and it was certainly a very fast-paced read.
Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident. Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?
As I’ve said about the other two books in this series, I liked how funny it was. The characters, even in darker times, make jokes. Sophie’s inner monologue is almost always a little bit snarky and the stuff she actually says has inspired more than one giggle-snort from me. It’s something that’s missing in YA, buried under piles of brooding heroes and swooning heroines. I liked that Sophie and Archer were playful with each other, and that even in a life and death situation, they still seemed like two teenagers who are into each other.
Speaking of teenagers being into each other, I also liked that Rachel Hawkins made it clear from the get go that there wasn’t really a love triangle. It’s true that two boys loved Sophie, but it was clear that Sophie was only in love with one of them. And it’s kind of nice that way, because then I feel sorry for Cal instead of rooting against him (though I’m sure plenty of people root for him anyway). Cal was one of those characters who you just kind of want to pat on the back and tell him there’s more fish in the sea etc. Because he’s a genuinely nice guy and he’s a genuinely good guy. It was nice to see two good choices for Sophie.
I thought one of the most adorable things about this book was how she felt about her mom and dad. It’s always nice for me to see young adult characters with good relationships with their parents. And what I mean is that the parents are part of the plot. Often a book is written where we’re told that a kid loves her parents, but they’re just not a part of the story. Here, I could tell how much Sophie’s parents loved her and I was happy to see those interactions. I was also glad that we got to see more of Sophie’s family and her family history, but that was an area where I was left wishing for a little more.
My biggest complaint with this book was that there was way too much going on. We were suddenly introduced to a bunch of new characters, there were a lot of background plot elements happening, and in the end the pacing felt a little rushed and frantic.At times, the plot completely stampeded over the characters and any chance of character growth. We see changes in Sophie and her scooby gang, sure, but it wasn’t as well done as I thought Demonglass was simply because there was no room left on the page to do it. I didn’t get to know the new characters as well as I would like because almost as soon as they’re introduced, Sophie is snatched away and we’re in a whole new plot element. When she finally gets back to them, there is an even bigger part of the plot happening.
And then there’s the ending. I liked a lot of things about the ending. I think that it gave us the answers to what had happened and so I was satisfied in that regard. I think that it was an exciting scene, and it was one instance where the frantic plot paid off. But, there were a few things about the ending that didn’t feel as well thought out. One specific thing that is too spoilery to mention specifically was almost completely glossed over when more attention was probably needed. Really, I think what we needed was an extra chapter, something between the ultimate resolution and decisions Sophie makes (which were awesome decisions, by the way), and the end of the action. I needed more time to cool down and catch my breath.
Overall, I think Spellbound was a good end to the series. It played to the same strengths I saw in Hex Hall and Demonglass and it is certainly quite a ride. It made me laugh and smile, but I missed the emotional punch I got in Demonglass. I’m looking forward to what Rachel Hawkins has in store for us next.