My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Quick little review for a quick little read. I thought Rachel Hawkins’ “School Spirits” was a very quick read that flew by fast (and that’s one of the reasons why I love her writing, flows quickly and is usually a nice way to spend time), but I’ll admit I wasn’t as invested in the journey or cast of this novel as much as I was “Hex Hall”. Going through this, it felt like the humor was dry and not as open-ended as “Hex Hall” was, and the cast didn’t quite pull me into the narrative as much as I would’ve liked.
Izzy is the main character of this novel, and for those of you familiar with the Hex Hall series, she’s Sophie’s cousin. This is pretty much a novel that can stand by its lonesome in the narrative (you don’t have to read Hex Hall or its respective series to get into this one, but it helps). Izzy is a paranormal hunter who travels with her mother on various missions. Yet, when a difficult ghost pops up at a local high school, Izzy finds that she becomes a student there and has to try to blend in order to find out more about the situation. She meets an interesting group and has to contend with the paranormal as much as the challenges of being a regular teenager. This felt less action oriented and more slice of life, and while I can appreciate the latter narrative (it’s often one of my favorites to follow), the story didn’t always carry me along as smoothly as I would’ve liked. I struggled a little to keep focused and found most of the turns of humor didn’t come quite as naturally as my former read of Hawkins work. The humor wasn’t entirely absent, though. Torin, the warlock in Izzy’s mirror, made me laugh a few times, and Dex was an interesting companion to Izzy, with his own stakes in the overarching mystery that surrounds this novel. But it’s slower going and with much less bite (pun intended) than my former read of Hawkins. Too much focus on kissing and daily drama, not as much on the ovearching paranormal mystery (though there were a few decent action sequences to be had here, like Izzy saving a classmate’s life from a raging ghost).
I liked the subject of the mystery well enough, and thought the premise was a decent one, just not the manner in which it was carried through. It took a much longer time to get to the intrigue than it should’ve. The ending is a bit difficult to suspend disbelief for, because of the way it ends, but I am interested in seeing where it goes for some of the threads that were left dangling here. I just wish it’d been able to pick up the pace and charm a little more than what it offered. I’m hoping at some point this gets a follow-up with a little more punch, and I have confidence that Hawkins can do it from the quality of her work before this, but I wish this read had been more rewarding than what it was.
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Disney Hyperion/Disney Book Group.