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Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Fat Free" Hex Hall Lacks the Lusciouness of a True Original

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Unlike most halflings in modern urban fantasy, Sophie Mercer knows exactly what she is. A witch. And a pretty crappy one at that. With her warlock father out of the picture, she's had to learn the ropes under the eye of her human mother. The result? Disaster. They've had to flee more towns than Sophie can count. As her powers grow stronger, so do Sophie's blunders. Now, following a love spell gone hugely and publicly wrong, Sophie's being exiled to Hecate Hall, a reform school for teenage Prodigium (the children of powerful witches, warlocks, werewolves, fairies, etc.) in need of ... instruction.

Even at "Hex Hall," where Sophie can finally be "herself," she's having trouble fitting in. Unlike her classmates, she's never been surrounded by so many different creatures - she doesn't know all their different histories, customs and prejudices. She only knows that everyone seems to be giving her a wide berth. The harder she tries to blend in, the more she stands out. Sophie refuses to join a coven of stuck-up witches; she's crushing on a totally hot, totally unattainable warlock; her roommate's a suspected murderer; and, oh yeah, she's being stalked by a ghost. To make matters worse, she can't cast a decent spell to save her life. And that's exactly what she's going to have to do. As the school's witches get attacked one-by-one, it's pretty clear who's next. Can Sophie figure out who's to blame before it's too late? What if the would-be killer turns out to be the only real friend she has at Hex Hall? What's a crappy, misfit witch to do?

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins is, as the author describes it, a "Southern-fried paranormal romance." As the description indicates, the book's a light, funny take on the whole urban fantasy thing. Hex Hall has its share of gore, but it's definitely more snarky than sinister. I've heard the book compared to the Harry Potter novels and, while I see some similarities, it's kind of like pitting fat free cream cheese against the rich, lusciousness of the original. Same product, but the imitation can never equal the real thing. You know what I mean? That being said, the story did keep me turning pages, made me laugh a couple of times, and even surprised me with a couple of its twists. Hex Hall doesn't come anywhere near the greatness of HP, but it's a quick, entertaining read that will probably appeal to female fans of the boy wizard.

(Readalikes: kind of like the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for language, violence, sexual innuendo and references to homosexuality

To the FTC, with love: I received this book from the generous folks over at Disney/Hyperion. Thanks!


  1. This one is on the way to me. I've been looking forward to it for a long time. I love the cover. I will admit that there would be few books that would compare to the HP books for me.

  2. I LOVE your header and your adorable titles :D
    They're like newspaper headings.

    PLUS major kudos for the ratings :)


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