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 tag-along 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.

If there is one thing Rachel Hawkins can always be counted on to provide, it's a hearty laugh.

This book was a hearty laugh personified.

Which is not at all to say that Hex Hall is not a captivating paranormal novel in its own right. From start to finish, the world of witches, warlocks, shapeshifters, faeries and demons captures and holds the reader's attention. It did mine, at any rate. But there is something uniquely charming about a girl landing herself in a bowl of punch at prom, then react to a werewolf attack by shouting "BAD DOG".

Bad dog. Sophie Mercer is the kind of witch whose defense against a charging were-animal is shouting "Bad dog".

Sophie Mercer is also the kind of witch to alienate the supernatural outcasts in a reform school on her first day, thus finding herself a freak among the freaks. The attractive bad boy laughs at her. The popular girl clique hates her. The fairies think themselves above her. The Vampire roommate is okay, when she isn't trying to eat her. As for the rest? They despise her for her heritage.

Oh, and the teachers aren't her biggest fans, either.

And if Sophie thought this was the peak of her troubles at Hecate Hall, the reform school for the supernaturally-inclined, she's got another thing coming. Because while words can indeed hurt her, it's the sticks and the stones that might be a bigger threat, in the grand scheme of things. Sophie's life and the lives of her peers might be at stake following her arrival at Hecate Hall. And no one seems to take the question of who is behind it quite as seriously as Sophie herself seems to.

In a rare mixture of humor and tension, Rachel Hawkins delivers a debut so engrossing, it's hard to believe it is a debut at all. Having previously read the author's more recent Rebel Belle, I've had a unique opportunity to work my way backwards through her work so far. And while many authors only seem to get their bearings after a handful of published novels behind them, this is very much not the case here. Rachel Hawkins has always had a unique take on things. Rachel Hawkins has seemingly always been hilarious. And Rachel Hawkins always knew exactly where she wanted to take a novel.

Or so it would seem.

So, naturally, count Rachel Hawkins as one of the authors I'd dearly love to have a drink with. (And given that Sophie's musings regarding detention in the cellar are "I can see no reason why anyone should ever go into a cellar unless there is wine involved," I'm inclined to think it would be a fun evening.)

I've missed being able to react to finishing a book with "What? Where have all the pages gone?" This was very much the case with Hex Hall. If you have the time, it is a one-sitting sort of read. If you don't have the time, just open the book and - oh, look, now you have the time! Excuse me while I go and buy the sequel yesterday.

I'm not really here right now. I'm off buying the sequel. But as per our long-standing tradition, I'm providing all the necessary links to the book and our social media below, so you can read the book / stalk the author / read our blog / stalk one/both of us*. You know. The usual.

Stalk the book / the author:

Stalk our blog/us:
Natalie's Goodreads | Lexie's Goodreads

* 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.