If you are already a fan of Rachel Hawkins’ first series, Hex Hall, I am sure you have been awaiting the arrival of anything she writes since the close of that trilogy last year. Full of wit, magic, mystery, snark and attraction, Book 3 answered all the important questions, but left a vacant spot that needed to be filled. Is her new series ready to occupy the void?
I can say, unequivocally (ha), yes and no. School Spirits is related to the Hex Hall series; it’s a companion, really, that mentions characters you met in Ms. Hawkins’ first series. It is not strictly necessary to read the first series, but it will be more fulfilling if you do
The mystery here is that Isolde “Izzy” Brannick’s sister, Finley, has disappeared during a routine assignment. The Brannick family are monster hunters, but ever since the Council ruled in favor of control vs. killing, they hand over perpetrators for punishment. Now, it’s just Izzy and her mom, Aislinn, and a big hole in their family unit. One they stopped talking about long ago.
So imagine Izzy’s surprise when Aislinn moves them to Mississippi to work on a simple ghost case. In their world, these are the easiest and fastest to solve. So why move? Izzy knows she needs to get her confidence back, and for the first time, she will attend school. Part of her really wants to experience this thing that is such a big part of most kids’ lives.
Looks like the best place to start is joining the student Paranormal Management Society. Great. These groups end up doing more harm than good in Izzy’s experience, though having actual friends for the first time is pretty cool. But what of Dex? When he shook Izzy’s hand, this guy who dresses to the nines, is handsome and snarky (the trifecta?), gave her a low-level buzz meaning Prodigium. Is Dex a monster?
Best Thang ‘Bout It: Rachel Hawkins’ writing style is my drug. She combines the perfect balance of mystery, intrigue, action, romance, excitement, wit and humor. Her books are never predictable and the paranormal aspect adds just the right amount of the unknown. This series’ mystery involves the missing Finley, which I am sure will arc over the entire trilogy. That is the mark of a good series writer; each book needs an arc that is solved, while the series itself has a bigger arc answered at the end. (You’d be surprised how many authors forget this!)
I’m Cranky Because: Of course I am going to compare this new series to her first. So far, Hex Hall is in the lead. Is it because I know those characters and their stories better? Perhaps. Maybe that’s why School Spirits, while very good, didn’t seem as powerful. It felt like there was more prep for what’s going to happen. I know, too, that Izzy is a different character than Sophie, so the storytelling might/should be different.
The Bottom Line: School Spirits has all the makings of a great series. I hope the Brannick family travels to different places to eliminate monster problems – that will be exciting.
School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins was published today by Disney Hyperion. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to NetGalley/the Publisher/the Author.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Fantasy Paranormal Romance Series Companion
Ages: 12 and up
You Might Want to Know: Nothing of note