Sunday, August 11, 2013

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

[description from goodreads]

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 the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!


I read the debut of Rachel Hawkins' first series, Hex Hall, way back when it first released and found it to be a fun, light twist on the paranormal phenomenon that was saturating bookstores. I still have not read the third book in that series because of my inability to keep up with series when so many other books are out there, but I happily began School Spirits, the new spin-off, and found it to be almost as delightful as Hex Hall. 

Although I admit my memories of Hex Hall are rather fuzzy, being that I read the book so long ago, I do remember the humorous, even spunky, tone of heroine Sophie Mercer. Izzy, the narrator of School Spirits, is not quite as bubbly as her cousin, but she's fun all the same. Her upbringing as a paranormal cop of sorts makes her both capable of handling the more dangerous aspects of her job with ease, a badass trait if there ever was one, as well as rather practical and level-headed. I greatly appreciated this practicality when she headed out into the "real world" for the first time, since she so easily could have been obnoxiously enthusiastic or unaware of how things at high school go. Instead, she takes in her new surroundings trying to act as normally as possible, which really makes her mishaps funnier. Plus, her ease going in makes her new friendships seem so much more valid, since she doesn't judge her peers quite like everybody else does. Being that these people become so important to the story, this normalcy was greatly appreciated.

I do like Izzy quite a lot, but with other aspects of this book I am a bit more torn. I love that even when Izzy isn't dealing directly with paranormal happenings, there is always a sense of them in the background. Whether it's with her friends, love interest, or the guy trapped in the mirror at her house, there's always a sense of magic and ghosts about, which makes even the high school P.E. scenes fun to read. However, I think this book attempted far too much in such a short amount of time. There's Izzy's new school life, her ghost-hunting friends, and possibly magical love interest to worry about, plus a missing sister, emotionless relationship between Izzy and her mother, the actual ghost hauntings, and a slew of other conflicts. It's far too much for a 300 page book (with no sequel) to cover, so much of it ended up feeling shallow and emotionless. Everything ended up rushed and unresolved, which sucks considering it was such a delight until then.

Too short to handle all it tries to cover, School Spirits is nevertheless a fun read, with a heroine that matches the balance between silly and serious in this book's many conflicts.

Book details: Hyperion/Hardcover/$17.99

Source: sent by publisher for review


  1. Disappointed to discover there is no sequel-I was fully expecting another trilogy :( I do really like Hawkins' writing though so I definitely want to check this out at some point.

  2. I was really excited for this one when it was announced, but now I'm not so sure. I'm glad it's a fun read, but after the awesomeness that was Hex Hall, I was expecting something more. And I hate it when the stories don't feel complete, or they feel shallow. I'll give this a go anyway because it's Rachel, but meh.