In Hex Hall, we meet young Sophie, a high school student whose attempt to work a well-intentioned love spell at prom goes horribly wrong. So wrong that the governing council of the Prodiguium (folks with paranormal powers--witches, shapeshifters, fairies, and werecreatures) insist that she go to an isolated school where every student has an episode in their past similar to Sophie's own disaster.
But Hecate Hall is not the most gently nurturing of environments. From the Publisher blurb (time is short, and the gist of things is well-expressed): "By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect."
By the end of the book, Sophie is in seriously hot water. Unless she can solve the mystery, and make it through the final showdown, her stay at Hecate will come to an awful end...
Sophie is a gem. It's not that common for a paranormal heroine to have a sense of humor and a smart mouth, and I loved it. Here's Sophie addressing the headmistress, for instance: “I’m experiencing some teenage angst, Mrs Casnoff,” I answered. “I need to, like, write it in my journal or something.” If I had to go to a magical boarding school, I'd want Sophie as a room-mate. Her relationship with Jenna, her vampire room-mate, is based on delightful banter--they both use humor to buoy each others spirits when things go wrong (which they do, in spades!). Her romance (a hopeless...or maybe not...crush on a truly hot dude) is spot on in its tension and teetering hope, and because Archer, the dude in question, is also a smart-aleck, it's great fun to read their scenes together.
And on top of that, the mystery is gripping, and the ensemble cast full of intriguing characters (Lord Byron makes a cameo appearance as a vampire, teaching English).
I enjoyed it just as much the second time around--it's a truly fun, fast read that makes the reader eager to pounce into the sequel as quickly as possible.
(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)