Tuesday, 24 March 2015

BOOK REVIEW: DEMONGLASS BY RACHEL HAWKINS



Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (a.k.a. witches, shape-shifters, and faeries). But then she discovered the family secret, and the fact that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie's a demon, one of only two in the world-the other being her father. What's worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will either destroy her powers for good-or kill her.

But once Sophie arrives, she makes a shocking discovery. Her new housemates? They're demons too. Meaning, someone is raising demons in secret, with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they're using Archer to do it. But it's not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?




Alternate book title: An American In London
Alternate series title: A Nancy Drew Mystery From Hell
Morale of the story: "Don't joke and bleed at the same time."
Other lessons learned: "Nothing pleasant ever slithers."


It's Take Your Demon To Work day at the Council headquarters, and Sophie Mercer is about to spend the summer with her estranged Demonic Council Leader father in England. Along for the trip are the Hecate groundskeeper (whose name turns out to be Alexander, which I approve of) and the Vampiric best friend Jenna, who once again lightens the mood at each turn:

"Well, [other potential demons] are probably lame demons anyway," Jenna happily informs Sophie on one occasion, "I'm sure you and your dad are much better at demoning."

Except, of course, they aren't. (Let us all remember the Bad Dog Shouting from the last book.) The Bad Dog Shouting has since teamed up with The Bed Thing, The Doritos Incident and That Time With The Lotion, rendering Sophie Mercer one of the least demony demons to ever walk the earth. Join with that the immediate decision to never keep secrets again, which results in a truly impressive level of secret-keeping throughout the rest of the book, and Sophie has enough trouble of her own making on her plate.

But, of course, this is a Rachel Hawkins masterpiece at its finest, and so the troubles of her own making are about to become the least of Sophie Mercer's overall problems.

Of even bigger concern is the fact that she is trying not to pick up British slang, she's stuck in an English countryside mansion (the horror!) so she won't get to have a cup of tea next to Big Ben, and the Queen is rudely out of reach.

Oh, and also - unknown demons, a supernatural council, hauntings, plottings and all manner of evilry is afoot. Those are beginning to pose somewhat of a problem, too.

A feat that Rachel Hawkins manages time and time again is an abundance of dramatic situations with a total absence of drama. In its place are far more valuable aspects like characterization, worldbuilding, sarcastic humor, deadpan humor, intentional humor, ad-lib humor and an occasional timely joke.

So while this second installment in the Hex Hall series is different as different can be - what with a change of setting, principal characters, the overall mood and the level of intensity - the one thing which will always serve as a reminder that this is a second book in a series is (admit it, you saw this coming) the humor. But what also defines each installment in the series so far is a crescendo of tension and an escalation of the Nancy Drew Mystery into a Nancy Drew Mystery From Hell.

And just like before, it is entirely a one-sitting, what-homework, I'll-do-it-tomorrow, go-away-kids, the-lunch-will-make-itself sort of read.

And while Demonglass has in every capacity successfully resisted the second book syndrome, I do wish it would have had a non-cliffhanger, stand-alone ending. But the cliffhanger has done its office, as a Jane Austen character once said (and not Sophie's father, either). Guess what I'm reading next?

And not a single "Bad dog" was uttered. (Actually, this is a lie.)





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* All stalking jokes should be taken in a light-hearted manner. Stalking should be limited to twice a day, following mealtimes. All stalking should be conducted via the internet. If engaged in excessively, consult your local therapist or an online fangirl support group. Side effects are, but not limited to, swooning, giggling, obsessive internet searches, prompts to leave the house by concerned friends and family members, memorizing an excess of quotes, inability to focus on normal daily activities, absentmindedness, a composition of embarrassing emails to the object of the stalking, and general moodiness.





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