Tuesday, April 23, 2013

ARC Review: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

Title: School Spirits (School Spirits #1)
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy
Source: Disney Book Group

Goodreads rating: 4.21 out of 5.00 (220+ ratings pre-release)
Goodreads | The Book DepositoryAmazon

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?

Review by Chantelle

So. A spin off from Hex Hall... YAY!!!!!!! I was happy dancing like a fool when I saw that School Spirits was being released. I missed the magic-wrought boarding school full of supernatural misfits. sigh. I've also always been a huge fan of Izzy, her snark remarks always pulled a laugh from me and as a Brannick, her narrative voice was less 'valley girl' than Sophie's. I'm happy to say that School Spirits was a really pleasant read and sufficiently different from Hex Hall such that new readers don't have to worry about needing to read Hex Hall beforehand. 

The Brannicks are a lineage with only 3 remaining living persons; Izzy, her mum, and her sister, but when her sister goes missing, her mum decides they need to take a break from hunting down stray paranormals and lets Izzy do the previously-thought impossible - go to public school. In this way, Hawkins tackles the phenomenon of high school from the captivating angle of someone who is completely unprepared for it because Izzy has to find a way to 'fit in'. She explores what it means to be a teenager, in particular an American teenager and the expectations and stigma that surround that title. Izzy resorts to magazines, and a tv show called 'Ivy Springs' (sort of like 90210) to try and research how to act like a "normal" teenager. It was really interesting!

The action of this novel was a little tame, but it is probably aimed to a younger middle grade audience who I think would really enjoy it. I'm also personally not a fan of ghosts, but the pacing of the mystery was good and none of the chapters were boring. Overall a very promising start to a series!

Now onto the boys...

Shiny black shoes, sunnies, aqua shirt, navy peacoat, gray scarf twisted in a complicated knot... I'm sorry Ms Hawkins, but instead of Nate Archibald, I was definitely imagining that Dex looked like Kurt Hummel. As in g-g-g- not into girls. Which sure made his transition into Izzy's love interest mighty awkward for me!

My excuse was that I was fixated on Torin being her destined first love so I didn't exactly see Dex coming until it was too late. I would just like to make the point, that as a Hex Hall fan, I was blatantly teased with, no, promised, the immensely fan-girl worthy love interest of Torin, the evil warlock in the mirror. And I have proof!!

'Aislinn’s eyes slid to Izzy. “Torin has his reasons for wanting to stay with us,” she said, and even in the dim light, I saw red creep up Izzy’s cheeks.' - Spellbound (Hex Hall #3)

However, in comes Dex, and apparently, Dex is here to stay for the next installments of School Spirits! Um, excuse me Ms. Hawkins, we have a problem! AGAINST ALL RATIONALE, I AM STILL SHIPPING IZZY AND TORIN! So please feel free to send me the alternate version where Torin and Izzy declare their undying love for each other. 

      "Whatever shall you wear?" Torin observed, propping his chin in his hand. "Let's see, there's the black T-shirt with black jeans. Or perhaps, if you're going for elegance over function  you could wear the black T-shirt with black jeans. Ooh!" He sat up, widening his eyes. "Do you know what would be particularly fetching? The black - "
      "T-shirt with black jeans," I finished for him. "Hilarious."

Overall: 7.5/10
Plot: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 5/5


  1. I haven't read either of these series but I might have to give them a go! Glad you enjoyed it :)

    1. Thanks so much Sarah, they're definitely worth the read :)

  2. WHAT?! I was totally expecting IZZY & TORIN!!! Also I heard that School Spirits wasn't a series, it's just the one book?!

    1. I know right! But not to despair, Rachel Hawkins tweeted me that Torin's not "TOTALLY out of the game yet", thank goodness. I'm 99% sure it will be a series, the ending was very open to future installments, let's hope!

  3. Good review. I'd love to read Hex Haul before starting this one, even though its a spin off. I'd like to get a feel for the author's writing style. But once again, Good review. I like the plot.

    1. Thanks so much, great idea, Hex Hall is a wonderful series. Hope you like it!

  4. This sounds like a fun read. I did enjoy the beginning of the Hex Hall series so I've been wanting to start this one. Glad you were able to enjoy it!