Review: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

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!

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Fans of Rachel Hawkins’ novels will no doubt adore School Spirits, a spin-0ff featuring Izzy Brannick, a cousin to Hex Hall’s Sophie Mercer. Those who haven’t read one of Hawkins’ fast-paced, witty novels will no doubt fall in love after meeting Izzy!

Brannick is more than a last name for the main character of School Spirits, it’s a role to fill – and a big one at that. Izzy and the women in her family protect the world from monsters normal people don’t even realize exist, living hard, nomadic lives filled with danger and with little time for friends, nevermind boys. Of course, all that changes when Izzy’s mother gives her her first solo assignment: rid a high school of the spirit that haunts it, an assignment that requires Izzy to attend a public school and, for the first time, form relationships with her peers.

Izzy’s independence is one of her best and worst traits. On one hand, she’s a badass and can take care of herself. On the other, there are situations in which admitting some weakness would have been an obvious help. But, of course, this is part of Izzy’s journey. It was clear Brannick women are expected to have a fierce sense of independence, but I loved seeing Izzy embrace her weaknesses and ask for help. There aren’t very many Brannick’s left and I felt Izzy’s realization that it was okay to form relationships and ask for help was a valuable lesson for continuing the dying Brannick legacy. 

I was amused by Izzy’s unique group of friends – who are members of a ghost hunting club – and found their attempts to track down ghosts comical next to that of a true Brannick. I also loved Izzy’s protectiveness of the group, who she felt sure would find themselves in more trouble than they could handle. For a girl who has so little experience interacting with kids her own age, she is a surprisingly well-adjusted individual. I liked that about her; I think it made her easier to relate to.

Aaaaand, of course, Hawkins includes a splash of romance, an element that always proves to be absolutely wonderful in her novels. School Spirits is no exception and features a boy quite different from Hex Hall’s Archer, but just as swoon-worthy.

I adored School Spirits and can’t wait to read more about Izzy! I have a quite some time to wait before the next book releases, so I’ll have to comfort myself by rereading Sophie’s story in the Hex Hall books!

Disney-Hyperion, May 2013, Hardcover, ISBN:  9781423148494, 304 pgs.

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