When monster hunter Isolde “Izzy” Brannick was 14 years old, her older sister Finley disappeared on a job tracking a coven of witches, only leaving behind her belt of tools. Now 15 years old, Izzy is sent on a mission of her own involving a sinister set of ghostly occurrences. Only this time, the job involves Izzy going undercover as a high school student. Thus, Izzy’s journey and first tastes of friendship, love and independence begin!
"SCHOOL SPIRITS is ultimately a book that almost any fantasy reader will enjoy."
The story begins by depicting Izzy’s first steps into a “normal” high school girl’s life. It’s because of this that unlike the Hex Hall series, there’s a much more contemporary feel to the book, with only occasional paranormal elements. But in true Rachel-Hawkins style, Izzy’s first encounters are still enjoyable and hilarious --- the dialogue is witty, the characters’ jokes are sharp and the drama is a bit ridiculous, but absolutely entertaining (think unfortunate dodgeball incidents!). Even though the book was a bit different and had less fantasy than usual, this part of the story was still immensely entertaining!
However, obviously SCHOOL SPIRITS is not completely devoid of magic. Though there’s not much direct monster hunting or spell casting, this installment follows a mysterious ghost case. Specifically, Mary Evans High School in Ideal, Mississippi seems to be haunted by the powerful and lonesome spirit Mary Evans, who leaves “gifts” for her victims before viciously attacking them. There’s also the “PMS,” or Paranormal Management Society who (try to) hunt and investigate various paranormal occurrences without the magical gifts that the Brannicks or Prodigium are endowed. And of course, there’s Torin, the sarcastic, clever and always-entertaining warlock stuck in a mirror, with the ability to foresee the future. All of those elements, though maybe small, come together to add more magical fun to the story!
Personally, I really enjoyed the quickness and light humor of the novel. Again, though the novel features less magic and more of a “traditional” mystery than expected, I still received the laughs and fun fantasy I sought. Additionally the mystery was very well written, always holding my attention and keeping me guessing at what exactly was happening. I also liked that, as readers, we get to meet a completely new set of characters and setting, while still keeping a familiar system of magic. This made it so I experienced a new type of story, while still keeping the same type of world that I learned to love in Hex Hall. Overall, SCHOOL SPIRITS was a very entertaining read!
SCHOOL SPIRITS is ultimately a book that almost any fantasy reader will enjoy. Its humor, refreshing set of characters, and engaging mystery will attract both readers to new to Hawkins’s works, as well as those who fell in love with the magic and wit in Hex Hall and are looking for another set of stories. The novel is also perfect for younger fans of fantasy, as the story is completely appropriate and will also mystify and excite them! Contemporary readers seeking a quick and fun fantasy read may also enjoy the novel, as there are many contemporary elements.
Reviewed by Rachael W. on June 3, 2013
- Publication Date: May 14, 2013
- Genres: Young Adult 12+
- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- ISBN-10: 1423148495
- ISBN-13: 9781423148494