Wednesday, November 6, 2013

School Spirits

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

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?
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

I really liked the Hex Hall series, and I wasn't sure that this spinoff was going to stack up. Younger character? Different setting? Eh...

But actually, I think I liked this one better. It's more focused, and Izzy is a slightly more unique character who comes from a really interesting background. Her whole family have been hunters, but now that her older sister is missing, she and her mom are the last ones standing. Thanks to this setup, we not only see a fifteen-year-old struggling with braving high school for the first time, but also trying to live up to her mother's expectations and her own birthright, while trying to discover what happened to her sister. Hawkins balances these elements well, and each aspect was compelling. 

One of the best parts of this book is definitely the Scooby gang Izzy suddenly finds herself a part of at school. Who doesn't love a group of high school misfits with an interest in the paranormal? Added bonus that one of them is a bit of a dandy with exceedingly good manners and a quick wit, while another is a girl so dead-set on solving supernatural mysteries that she talked her school into allowing an official paranormal investigation club. I really enjoyed prickly Izzy trying to make a place for herself as a normal teenager, complete with dating confusion, girly bonding, and a healthy dose of spectral ass kicking. Definitely recommending for fans of, well, any of those things I just mentioned. The ending definitely leaves room for at least one more book, so fans of Hawkins' Prodigium setting will be happy.


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