Review–School Spirits (School Spirits #1) by Rachel Hawkins

School Spirits (School Spirits #1)
by Rachel Hawkins
Summary: 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!

Source: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



I really enjoyed School Spirits. This was the first book I’ve read by Rachel Hawkins, as I have yet to read the Hex Hall series. I was sucked right into School Spirits and thought the author did a wonderful job of character building. For a sort of “teeny bopper” synopsis and overall impression, Hawkin’s ability to create incredibly complex and entertaining characters kept me completely interested at a time when YA was starting to wear thin for me. I cannot gush enough about how much I loved this book.

Being part of a magical crime fighting family had more drawbacks than perks for Izzy, but she was able to get her own chance to shine by investigating a possible haunting at a school. Under the guise of being a new student, Izzy was able to go to school everyday, which was something she never got to do in her entire childhood. By inserting herself into the paranormal club at school, Izzy got the chance to make friends while also unraveling the mysterious haunting.

I liked Izzy and understood the strange dynamic between her and her mother. Izzy’s sister went missing on a mission and Izzy always felt like she wasn’t being given a chance to show her skills, so their relationship with strained, even though it was obvious they loved each other. As always, I appreciated the existence of a mom in the story since so many YA novels are strangely parentless.

The rest of the characters were wonderful and each of them had a distinct personality. None of them were particularly dull, being that they made up the weird and oddly freakish paranormal club in their school. Dex was probably my favorite character because he was so quirky and yet distinguished at the same time. He was one of those characters you can’t help but love. I wish I had more words to describe him, but just imagine a distinguished, old-timey persona in a gangly and awkward teenage boy with asthma. I mean, isn’t that the recipe for entertaining?!

I also enjoyed Torin, the imprisoned man in the mirror in the Brannick household. I loved how he was quirky (in a different way than Dex) and also took an interest in Izzy’s life. Izzy had never gone to school, so she tried to learn about social dynamics by watching a teen soap opera and Torin watched it with her. Their exchanges were hilarious. Seriously, I can’t decide who I loved more: Torin or Dex!

The plot of school spirits was interesting, what with Izzy attempting to fit in and also not get too close to temporary friends and it’s easy to see how that strategy might come with complications. Lots of different dynamics were going on and the haunting added the element of danger. The paranormal aspects of the story were there, despite the fact that I don’t seem to be talking much about the plot. But above all else, I loved School Spirits for the characters. They sucked me in and I was completely engrossed in the writing, hoping to figure out what would happen next. Also, I think this is a great book for actual teens to read because it has great lessons about friendship, family, duty, and identity, which are all wonderful themes for that age group.

There was a bit of romance and crushes and all that, which I loved. But it wasn’t a romantically focused book like many of the YA series out there and I found it refreshing. I don’t always want dramatic, in my face angst, drama, steam, and focus, but I also want the possibility of a relationship to exist. I loved the way the romance was done in School Spirits. I find it wonderfully refreshing and entertaining without being all.. you know… too much.

I will definitely continue the series and I highly recommend it. Hex Hall has been on my to-read list for awhile, but this book has made me more excited to read the Hex Hall series.

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