Warning: This review of Spell Bound, by Rachel Hawkins (Hyperion, 2012, YA 336 pages) is, perforce, a tad spoilery for the first two books in the Hex Hall series (Hex Hall, and Demonglass). In any event, those are both very entertaining books, and there's no reason not to read them first.
Spell Bound continues the story of Sophie, part-demon teenager and reluctant participant in a no-holds-barred war involving demon-raisers (very, very bad), rabid crusaders against magical people (bad), slightly less rabid crusaders (not all bad?) and herself and her best friends--2 cute magical boys, and 1 cute vampire girl (very good) and her dead frenemy (good enough to help out lots, in a ghostly way). In short, the bad side is way more powerful, especially since Sophie's own demon powers have been locked up inside her.
But her powers aren't gone for good--if she can a. recover them b. stay alive, and help her friends stay alive c. not run screaming from a literal pit of hellacious magic, good might defeat evil! And she might figure her way out of the love triangle she's caught in, which would also make her life more peaceful.
I love how Sophie and co. rather desperately use humor and snarkiness to keep from buckling under the weight of their horrible situation. If I had to fight bad demons, I'd most definitely want to be fighting with them--how could you not want comrades who shout "holy hell weasel!" when things go bad? Yet even thought they do their best to banter, it's clear that they are taking things seriously (as well they should)--their situation is never trivialized. Add to that lots of surprising plot twists, and the result is a book that's both entertaining as a light, fun read, and emotionally gripping as all get out.
Sure, the love triangle thing was perhaps a smidge too much of a love triangle thing (I personally prefer the romantic tensions that happen before full-blown tirangularity, as was the case in the first book, Hex Hall), and one aspect of the ending was a bit like lightning coming from a clear blue sky ("No! no!" I thought. "This cannot be happening!") but those reservations are minor.
Sophie's story is wrapped up tidily, but Rachel Hawkins has not ruled out (as far as I can tell from her FAQ page) the possibility of more books set in her world...
A quick sample of other thoughts at So Many Books, So Little Time, Knight Reader, Obsession with Books, and Ms. Yingling Reads.
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher