Book Review: School Spirits (School Spirits #1) by Rachel Hawkins

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release date: May 14, 2013

Rating: 5 stars – I LOVED THIS TO PIECES!

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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? — Goodreads


I received an eARC of this novel via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For months I have been highly anticipating the release of School Spirits, the spin-off series to Rachel Hawkins beloved Hex Hall series. You cannot believe how ecstatic I was to get approved by Netgalley! I think I may have let out an inhumane sound – sort of like when Dory is trying to talk whale in Finding Nemo.

Anyways, onto reviewing we go!

Izzy Brannick is your average, teenage monster hunter. Her family has been in the business of hunting beasties for centuries. They are the great Brannicks, women of immense strength and legend. When Izzy’s older sister, Finely disappears, her mother decides to take a break and find a small job in a new town. The local high school has been subject to recent hauntings. Izzy is determined to prove to her mother that she is a good hunter. But as she sets out to investigate, Izzy instead gets tangled into a web of social norms, friends, and a possible love interest that may be hiding a secret.

First, I want to say that I absolutely adored Izzy Brannick! She has a little bit of sass just like her cousin Sophie Mercer. You may remember Izzy from Spell Bound, the last book in the Hex Hall series. Izzy isn’t as sarcastic as Sophie, but I loved her nonetheless. Izzy is strong, smart, incredibly witty, and sassy. She’s also cutely oblivious to social norms and behaviors. Her run-in with boys and what their actions may entail were a mystery to her, an uncertainty. I really liked those small parts because, well….it reminded me of awkward high school days. You remember those days? The ones that consisted trying to guess what a boy meant when he walked you to class or gave you his phone number. Did it mean he liked you? That’s kind of the same vibe that Izzy struggles with Dex.

That sort of atmosphere also made the novel relatable, which I adored. It’s founded on realism and tinged with kickass supernatural themes.

When it comes to her love interest, Dex, I can’t help but smile. He’s different. There’s quite a mystery surrounding him. When Izzy first meets him, she senses magic. She guesses that he is Prodigium – a magical being such as a warlock, fae, werewolf, ect. I honestly thought so too, but he didn’t seem to know that he was. Dex is quite the character. He’s unique, funny, and charming. He also has dazzling blue eyes – who could not fall for that? Dex’s story isn’t revealed until the very end where I am met with a tantalizing bulldozer. But it made complete sense for the entirety of the novel, which was brilliantly done.

Secondary characters were used entirely in this novel, which is something that I like seeing. Romy, Anderson, Maya, and even Torin (the Warlock trapped in a mirror). I loved Romy and how she stood behind the PMS (Paranormal Management Society) club 110 percent even when the other kids in school treat her differently and like a joke. Then there is Anderson, a reformed jock, who joined because well…I won’t tell you this reason because it’s spoilery and I don’t want to give anything away! Just know that it’s a good reason. And finally, Dex, who will do anything and everything out of the norm. Maya and Torin prove to be valuable when information is concerned. Without them there would be no momentum for the novel. Every single character served a purpose and wasn’t left off to the side and forgotten. If there is something I truly dislike in a novel is discarded characters. Definite brownie points to Rachel Hawkins for this!

The benevolent spirit that haunts the high school is of Mary Evans, a girl who died in a cave a few miles from the school. The mystery and reasoning for the haunting is also revealed at the end. It’s part of that shocking and unexpected twist I mentioned earlier. The ghost is evil and wants revenge for what happened to her and she won’t stop until she succeeds. The few instances where Mary is able to manipulate certain objects and attempt to kill someone is scary to say the least. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t want to be a target of Mary Evan’s anger.

All in all, I adored School Spirits. There was a little bit of everything throughout the novel: romance, action, mystery, surprising twists. I just loved Izzy Brannick and her spunk. Her tone and voice was one of the things that drove this novel. If it wasn’t for a strong female protagonist then it would have flopped. But it didn’t. I highly enjoyed it and loved every piece of dialogue and humor that was woven into the story. Definitely recommend it to all you Hex Hall fans when it hits the shelves later this year in May!

Memorable quotes:

Not even lunch and I’d already nearly killed someone.

I was never going to stop blushing. I was actually going to die of blood loss because there wasn’t any left to pump through my heart. It was all in my face.

I actually felt it was going quite well, and I hadn’t even gotten to the part where I declare you a tiger sent to matriculate among kittens.

This is fun. Weird and disturbing and possibly illegal, but still fun.

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1 Comment

  1. Izzy Izzy Izzy! Finally! 🙂


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