REVIEW: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

hexhallHex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Disney-Hyperion, 2010
[Goodreads] [Amazon]

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

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.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.


I am probably one of the last people on the planet to read Hex Hall. It’s been on my radar for ages, and one of my friends really loved the books and told me I had to read it, but I kept putting it off. However, I signed up for the Witches and Witchcraft Challenge this year, so figured it was the perfect time to cross it off my list. And while I didn’t feel like this was the best book ever, I loved the snappy storytelling, extremely amusing main character, and the use of magic and mystery quite a lot.

I am a huge fan of boarding school books, so that automatically gave bonus points in Hex Hall‘s favor. I also love quick-witted and sarcastic main characters, which meant that Sophie and I got along splendidly. Throw in a romance with a hot bad boy like Archer, and this book had my name written all over it. It sort of reminded me a little of Hogwarts, in terms of the usage of magic and the classes on the history of the Prodigium, but was plenty unique in its own right to not bring on constant comparisons (and let’s be honest: nothing will ever compare to Harry Potter). The isolated setting allowed for a very unique atmosphere; Sophie is cut off from her mom, doesn’t even know her dad, and is having to adjust to a completely new lifestyle. While the story is made up of Sophie’s day-to-day life, it was still plenty full of danger and intrigue, particularly when gruesome happenings begin occurring at the school. There was a nice sense of danger and mystery throughout the entire story.

And oh, Archer. I think I might have swooned over him just as hard as Sophie did! I loved their banter, and the fact that he didn’t seem to care when Sophie kicked the crap out of him in their Defense class. There was just a lot to love about the two of them, from their stilted, awkward conversations, to the surprising turn of events that kind of left me speechless. I can’t wait to see more of Archer himself, because I have tons of questions I want answered, but also want to see more of the two of them together. They just made me smile.

While I can’t say this was my most favorite book ever, I did definitely like it well enough to read the rest of the series. This one had some nice twists and turns to it, and I look forward to seeing what’s going to happen next, not only for Sophie but for those around her as well.



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18 Responses to REVIEW: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

  1. Annie says:

    Yep, I felt similarly. I think it was aimed at a younger YA audience and since it lacked the immersive nature of HP I couldn’t love it.

    • Merin says:

      Well, very little is ever going to compare to HP, you know? But I did like that this was sort of a Hogwarts for badly-behaved magical folk. :)

  2. I’m planning on reading this soon for Witches and Wizards month for the Paranormal Reading Challenge, and it sounds like a fun read. Archer seems like a really cool character, and I’m looking forward to reading about him. :)

  3. Cecelia says:

    You are definitely NOT the last person in the world to read this series – I still haven’t picked it up! Need to get to that and see what all this fuss about Archer is about. ;) Thanks for sharing your review!

  4. Siiri says:

    I agree with you that the boarding school theme works well for this book. I love Vampire Academy series and I kinda hoped that this one would work that well for me as well. Unfortunately, I read about 10 chapters and then DNF-d it since I just couldn’t get into it. I agree with everything you said and I guess if I were to have fnished it, I would have given it 3 stars as well, but I had other awesome books to read at the time and didn’t want to bother suffering through a mediocre book. You wrote a lovely review though and thanks so much for sharing:-) Maybe I’ll pick it up again someday ;-)

    • Merin says:

      Well, 3 stars for me means it’s a good read, and one that I enjoyed. I wouldn’t call it mediocre, because it had a lot of things I really loved about it. It just wasn’t the most fantabulous book ever, you know? But those are sort of rare anyway, at least for me. :)

  5. I loved Sophie’s sense of humor. I laughed so much while reading this series!

  6. I keep thinking I want to try this out some time but it might be a library book kinda deal…

  7. Ohh! I’m so happy that you enjoyed this one. I don’t remember how well I liked the first book, but I remember loving the second book – so i’m looking forward to your review on that one!

    And oh my goodness! Archer Cross. He’s incredible.

  8. Quinn says:

    I haven’t read Hex Hall, yet. I’ve borrowed it from the library but never got around to reading it. I do want to read this one, though, and I’m glad to hear you found it enjoyable. Oh, and I agree, what could ever compare to HP? Thanks for the review :)

  9. I actually haven’t read this yet – so you beat me! I’ve heard mostly good things about this as well and would like to give it a try at some point. While you’re right that no witchcraft/boarding school book can ever hope to be as good as Harry Potter, I’m not sure they need to. As long as you enjoy the story overall that’s what matters.

  10. I’m glad you liked it Merin! Surprisingly I found the second and third books better than the first… which hardly ever happens :) I adored Sophie’s snark and I think that’s what made me fall in love… and the boarding school!

  11. Molli says:

    You aren’t the last person to read it – a friend said she is sending me a copy so *I* can read it. Something about this series just seems like I would really like it, you know? Like it sounds cute and mysterious. I hope I have similar feelings to yours when I do read it, Merin!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  12. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves #55 | Read and Reviewed

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