Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review of School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Available Now
Received from Publisher for Review 
Hardcover 304 pages
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From Goodreads-Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break. Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush. Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt? Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance! 

I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. I never finished the Hex Hall series, but I think I might have to after reading this novel. Let's start with the characters.

Izzy- She is one of the famous Brannicks who have fought monsters for eons. However, there are only three, uh, make that two since Finley, Izzy's sister disappeared on a routine case. Finley told Izzy to stay in the car, she had it covered and so Izzy did. Now she blames herself since her disappearance. There is no trace of her sister anywhere. Izzy is not the kind of girl that feels sorry for herself. It seems like affection is not freely given or even talked about in the Brannick family. So she stuffs her feelings down and puts on a show of bravado just like mom. But she misses Finley, her only friend. Brannicks don't have friends. They never stay anywhere long enough. But Izzy is a girl. And when she finds she has to go to high school, something she's more afraid of than the ghost that's haunting it, she buys DVD's of cheesy teen shows and magazines to find out how to be a teenager. She is trying to blend in but is a complete failure at it. Izzy is definitely someone you'd want on your side. She puts humans first and unless you tick her off in dodgeball, you're safer with her than anyone else in high school. She may seem awkward to you at first, but show her the ropes and she'll fit right in.

Mom- Hard ass. Cold, stoic. Hidden behind that is a woman mourning the loss of her oldest daughter and at a loss as to how to comfort her youngest daughter. She thinks she's failed at being a mother, missed out on the things real mothers do for their daughters and now she only has one daughter left. Desperate to find any clues to lead her to Finley. Actually loves Izzy hugely, just afraid of showing any signs of weakness or vulnerability.

PMS Memebers- Yes, that is truly the name of the club. Or their initials. Nope, gotta read the book!
Romy- a girl that I would definitely be friends with. Nerdy, outcast, oblivious to those facts and doesn't let it bother her. She's into ghost hunting and has started a club for it. Quick to forgive. Fun to hang out with.
Anderson- In love with Romy. Will protect Romy with his body if he needs to. Did I say loves Romy. Another outcast and doesn't care. Former jock before he blew out his knee. In love with Romy.
Dex- Very funny, dapper guy. I couldn't tell if maybe he was a ghost, but no he wasn't. He wears cravats and pinstripes and has very bad asthma. He loves Izzy's sense of humor and is also a fellow outcast. Doesn't bother him.

Torin- I'm not going to say much about him but to say he's trapped in something and is about 400 years old. He's been with the Brannick family for a long time. Izzy talks to him for advice. He doesn't always give good advice. And he can never be released from where he is trapped. Bad News!

The World- Apparently Izzy and her mother and Finley before she disappeared lived in a small home that existed as part of a compound that used to house hundreds of Brannicks for training. Then it was just the three of them. Fathers of the girls are picked for their bravery and strength, soldiers, Navy Seals, Green Berets. Travel is done through something called an Iteneris which hurts a bit, but gets you from point A to point B quickly. Otherwise, the world is just like ours. Except for the paranormal things that exist in it.

The Story- Simple- Izzy is supposed to go into Mary Evans High (MEH) and get rid of a ghost, believed to be Mary Evans. Izzy is almost disgusted with the assignment it's so easy. But the hard part is fitting in and on the first day she has an accident in dodge ball that gets her sent outside to run laps where she meets Dex. She becomes his idol after she tells him what she did and a fast friendship begins. Izzy finds out that Romy and Dex are on her bus so they become friends and then she joins their club because they investigate ghost sightings. She's more than a bit worried about the trouble they can get into with that. The rest of the story is investigating her friends, the ghost, and Izzy trying to fit in to high school. She thinks she has things figured out but there's a little twist to that part and it seems that she might actually have to hurt someone in order to get rid of the ghost of Mary Evans as she's gotten so strong. Twist, tragedy and a weird thing happens to the Brannick family. The ending was delicious and I'm not sure it's going to work out quite like Izzy and company want it to, but we'll see.

This is a very clean read and great for fans of Rachel Hawkins Hex Hall series, YA Paranormal stories with a little bit of romance, mysteries with paranormal and romance bits, just lovers of YA.

You can find Rachel Hawkins here-
Blog/ Tumblr/ Twitter

I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. The opinions expressed in this review were not influenced by this and are completely my own.


  1. Interesting characters and I am glad you enjoyed this spin-off. I have had the Hex series on my wishlist forever. Wonderful review!

    1. I don't think you have to have read the Hex Hall series to read this one. I certainly didn't feel lost.
      I thought this one was really good and definitely stands on it's own as a series.

  2. I am so excited about this one! You definitely have to read the last Hex Hall where Izzy and her family were introduced. I think it probably helps explain their family dynamic.

    I was so sorry to hear there won't be a follow-up (or, if there is, not anytime soon) so now I feel a little bummed out before I even read it. These characters sound like they deserve more time.

    Erin @ YA Book Crush

    1. It says School Spirits (#1) is this not going to be a series?? It definitely does lend itself to being one. There is a huge story arc that isn't finished-Missing sister. I hope it continues!

  3. I enjoyed the first and need to catch up because I remember enjoying.

    1. This is a spin off series so you can enjoy this one without reading the Hex Hall series, though I have read in the comments that these characters are introduced in the last Hex Hall book. Still I felt very comfortable with the characters.

  4. I haven't finished the Hex Hall series either, but I LOVED the first one. I'm going to go request the second one from the library right now. This new series looks super fun. I hope that the series arc has to do with finding the sister...?

    1. Yep, that is the series arc, finding the lost sister, along with a few other mysteries, family stuff. It was a really fun story. Not too dark at all. Maybe if I knew the sister, but I didn't really feel the loss so it was a light read.

  5. I still need to read Hex Hall series. I have one of the books on my tbr (not the first, still waiting on getting it). This one sounds good and looks like I'll be wanting it after I read the Hex Hall series. Plus, if I can't wait... it looks like I can read it even if I don't! :D

    1. Yeah, I think it's fine if you don't read it before the Hex Hall series. But of course now, I'm getting the rest of the Hex Hall series so I can finish it up.
      I have Demon Glass. And I think I have the last one! So I just need to get reading!

      I really recommend this one. It's a light quick read.

  6. I haven't finished the Hex Hall series either. I am curious about this book but lame I got turned down. I am hearing though that is a bit on the young side, which is fine. I know Hawkins is capable of writing fun characters and such. I will likely read this at a later date. I am glad it was a winner for you!

    1. Well I was surprised I got accepted so don't feel too bad. It might have been a slip of the finger! It does read a little younger though there is romance in it, but this is Izzy's first time with people her own age and she's like a fish out of water. Especially when it comes to boys. The characters are a lot of fun and the dialogue is great!

      I really don't think you need to read the Hex Hall series to be able to read this one, though I am going to read it now!

  7. Yay! I'm so glad it's good! I'm waiting until I can read Spellbound, but I can't wait! Fun review! :)

    Sabrina @iheartyafiction

  8. Gah! I haven't even started the Hex Hall series. The guys have both read the first one and loved it. If I tell them this one is great too I'm gonna have to go get them all for them!!!!

    - Jessica @ Book Sake

  9. Excellent review Heather! I love how you explained each of the characters! I read the Hex Hall Series, and thought that it was so so. I can tell how much you enjoyed this book-so I'll have to check it out :)

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape


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