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Book Review: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

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Title: School Spirits

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Series: School Spirits #1

Genre: Teen Paranormal Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: 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?

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The Review:

Arguably, my favorite thing in the final Hex Hall novel was the introduction of the Brannick family. I thought it added a great new dynamic to the story, and if I could’ve chosen a character to do a side story on, it would’ve been Izzy (lucky me). She and her sister grew up in their own little world and had mastered the art of monster slaying while most girls held tea parties. Overall, they are strong personalities with a fascinating background, and I am excited Hawkins chose to tell their story.

I hold this author in high regard for creating relatable, yet cheeky main characters. Sophie was delightfully awkward, yet strong spirited, and I love the fact that she could laugh at herself. Izzy, on the other hand, is more reserved… but I actually find her more relatable as she struggled to make it in a rather non-magical high school. This author definitely writes great protagonists, but I also love that she surrounds them with friends that are just as well-rounded and interesting. The sidekicks in School Spirits were especially quirky – I don’t know that I’ve seen their like in any other series, and I found that refreshing.

Another thing I praised in the first trilogy was Hawkins’ ability to turn the setting into almost a character within itself. As this story takes place at a normal high school in a small town, it pales in comparison to the mystery and wonder of Hectate Hall. Because of this, I thought the story lost a little bit of the magic it maintained throughout the first three books. It did, however, make up for it a bit through cool bits of supernatural (anybody remember the man trapped in the mirror in the third Hex Hall book? I really want to know even more about him).

This book also had a couple layers of mystery working for it, but I did’t find them as complex or compelling as the first series… But it’s only the first book, so I’ll definitely give it more time to develop. I have a feeling there is a lot more in store for Izzy then Hawkins is letting on at this point. 

Recommendations: overall, this was a delightful spinoff series that would work pretty well as a stand-alone, though I would strongly recommend reading the first trilogy to experience this author at her finest. I would suggest this author to people who like their high school romance books with just a hint of supernatural (and a lot of fun).

Other books you might like:

The Sweetest Dark Review   •   The Selection Review   •   Touch of Frost Review

by Niki Hawkes

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