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School Spirits (A Hex Hall Novel)

School Spirits - Rachel Hawkins This review and others are posted at Read, Rinse, Repeat.

4.5 stars

How come Rachel Hawkins has slid under my radar until now? I've heard of her, of course, but somehow I've managed to not read any of her books until School Spirits. That will change, because I'm happy to tell you that School Spirits was wonderful.

Izzy Brannick comes from a long line of ass-kicking monster slayers. But with the mysterious disappearance of Izzy's sister, Finn, it's up to Izzy and her mother to hop from town to town, dispatching evil creatures and never staying anywhere long.

All goes well until Izzy and her mother arrive in Ideal, Mississippi. After being homeschooled her whole life, Izzy's mother informs her that she's to attend the local high school to investigate a seemingly simple case of a ghost haunting the grounds. Izzy doesn't have a lot of respect for or fear of ghosts. After all, they can be eliminated merely with a bit of salt. But Ideal's ghost proves to have a healthy tolerance for sodium, and Izzy's simple case becomes potentially lethal.

Fortunately, Izzy is not alone in her ghost-busting. She immediately hooks up with her school's Paranormal Management Society, otherwise known as, er...PMS. The three existing members of the club welcome Izzy with open arms, having no idea that she is a REAL ghost buster. Romy is the head of the club, and she's one of those girls who is charmingly lacking in self-consciousness. So what if most of the school sneers at Romy's belief in the supernatural. Dex captures Izzy's attention immediately, in part because he has a boldness that straddles the line between charming and brash, but also because Izzy detects a bit of magic in Dex, although she's unsure of its nature. The big question is whether or not Dex knows he possesses magic. The last member of the group is Anderson. He's the least fleshed-out, and he's most distinguished by his crush on Romy.

Even though Izzy's mother instructs her not to become attached to anyone at school, Izzy can't resist the charms of her PMS crew. She's at school to do a job, not to make friends, so Izzy must hide her close connections from her mother. Meanwhile, the ghostly entity at school is becoming more and more dangerous, and it becomes increasingly clear that Izzy may be in over her head. She's given some assistance at home from Torin, a warlock who has been imprisoned by the Brannick family for generations in a mirror. Torin is a fabulous character who undoubtedly has a great back-story, and I hope we learn more about him in the sequel.

Even with all the spooky goings-on in little ol' Ideal, Hawkins, as channeled through Izzy, never loses her sense of humor. Every character has his/her moment to shine with a well-timed quip or two. One of my favorites came from Izzy when she hurled a ball at Ben, the school's douchebag supreme, during a game of dodgeball. Izzy dislocated Ben's shoulder and as Ben lay on the floor in pain, Izzy observed, “Ben did look a little...crooked.” The book provides a great mix of wit, action, scares, and supernatural lore.

Note - I was provided with an ARC by the publisher for review.