Title: School Spirits (School Spirits #1)
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Genre: contemporary, paranormal, urban fantasy, witches, ghosts
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: May 2013
Pages: 304 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis (from goodreads):
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?
As a Brannick, Izzy has a family legacy to maintain – to fight things that go bump in the night. But Izzy, her mother and older sister Finley are the only Brannicks left and after Finley goes missing in the middle of a job things are different. Taking some time off to search for Finley, months go by with no sign of the missing teenager. To try to move on Izzy’s mother decides to get back to the monster fighting business and gives Izzy her first true solo mission – find and stop the ghost haunting a high school. Enrolled as a student and working undercover, Izzy gets to experience for the first time just what life as a typical teenager involves. With an evil warlock trapped in her mirror and the closest thing to teenage life Izzy has ever been is watching Ivy Springs (a fictional teen drama) on DVD, the next experience of high school is a novelty for Izzy. But ghosts with evil intentions stop for no one – not even one with best friends and boys on the mind.
I’ve not read Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and had no idea School Spirits was a spin-off. That said – there’s no assumed knowledge of the world and before I knew it I was swept away in the characters and story in this novel. Izzy is an engaging main character who for all her naivety of “regular teenagers” and life outside of monster hunting is surprisingly relatable. Her mother managed to be both mentor and caring parent. And the members of the Paranormal Management Society (PMS) are delightful. I accepted and loved the team of misfits the way they embraced Izzy – without abandon. Romy, Anderson and Dex are equal parts fun, zany and supportive.
Plot wise I thought it was dramatic and interesting. Paced perfectly, I enjoyed seeing Izzy go from nearly killing a boy in dodge-ball on her very first day to a more confident young woman who is trying to live up to the Brannick name. Torin – the boy in the mirror, is cocky and confident and I’m a little undecided as to whether I love or hate him. He’s just one of those characters that I desperately want to know more about.
Watching Izzy discover boys – specifically Dex – made me smile. She’s awkward and all she knows about romance and relationships with the other sex is from a teen drama. I loved it! And Dex is perfect. He’s quirky and geeky – and the opposite of athletic – and that just made me like him more. He’s an unconventional love interest but somehow it works.
The magic and ghosts are rampant and I liked the supernatural element in School Spirits. There’s drama and excitement with a lot of room for this series to grow in future novels. This is a great book for fans of Rachel Harkins but also anyone who loves a good young adult novel with engaging characters and things that go bump in the night.
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for the review copy.
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