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Hex Hall Book One
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
I want to begin with, Bravo and Bring on the Movie!

Sophie Mercer has been carted around to nineteen different schools throughout her very young life; we first meet her at one particular school on prom night. Sophie feels bad for a young woman crying her eyes out in the ladies' room; the young girl is dateless to the prom and wants this to be rectified. Sophie takes her out to the parking lot, tells her to close her eyes, and think about THE boy who she wants with all her heart to be her escort. Dark clouds amass above their heads; a purplish light glows within the black core; and green lightning rains down from above... Yes, the girl's wish is granted, but the nice, sweet prom quickly turns into Carrie. Suffice to say, Sophie is on her way to her twentieth school.

She arrives in Georgia in the brutally hot month of August on her beloved mother's arm. She's being sent away to Hecate Hall - a reformatory school for witches, shapeshifters, faeries, and other even more non-humans, who have flaunted their skills in the wrong places, risking exposure to their world. This is no Hogwarts, people; Hecate Hall is a cold, two-hundred-year-old mansion that looks like something out of a horror movie, with fugly wallpaper and an addition of pink stucco that goes off the back of the house and into the woods. Sophie's very first meet-and-greet with a supernatural being comes in the form of a young man named Justin, who turns and snarls at her while transforming into a werewolf. Sophie raises her finger, screams "bag dog," and basically sees him as a cocker spaniel standing on his hind legs. (This is what I love most about this writer - she's wonderfully sarcastic).

Sophie's roommate is Jenna, a young girl who is a vamp and is at Hecate Hall on scholarship. She's the only "monster" that's at the school and many witches, warlocks - the "elite" of their world - can't stand her. In fact, a coven at the school believes Jenna bit and killed her last roommate, Holly, and they tell Jenna that she must join them and become their "fourth" so they can have the most power within the old, stone walls. Unfortunately for these three witches (who act like a modern-day Macbeth trio), Sophie doesn't like them; she likes her roommate who, although, a bloodsucker, is a nice girl who loves the color Electric Raspberry Pink, which is the color of her clothes, the stripe in her air, the bedspread, etc. Sophie can't help but liking the poor girl who seems to be blamed for all the harsh goings-on at the school.

Sophie also meets Archer Cross, who's the resident hot-guy - a gorgeous warlock who everyone loves. Archer was once the boyfriend of the poor unfortunate Holly, and he's now going out with the head of the coven that Sophie can't stand. As the story begins to unfold at the school, Sophie learns things about her past - and her father who she's never met. Apparently, her ancestral genes go far back in history; her family is powerful, her father is very "high-up" in the magical world, and the magic that runs through Sophie's veins is rather dark and frightening. There are many characters that are absolutely fantastic in this story including a young girl by the name of Taylor who can morph into a mountain lion at whim; a headmistress who knows far too much about Sophie's family; a ghost who walks the halls wearing a green dress that's part of Sophie's mysterious history; a vamp teacher who's also a famous poet; and, a groundskeeper who should definitely become a doctor.

The author inserts a variety of "clues" that will lead the reader through many books, hopefully, to come. Readers are told of the demon glass sword that's held in the depths of Hades, as well as a group called The Eye of God whose job it is to hunt down magical beings and take them out in order to protect the human world. Drawing from Roman and Egyptian history and characters (i.e.: Hecate, The Furies, etc.), this author has managed to put together a story that's fun, exciting, and interesting with a main character who's extremely sarcastic and brutally funny.

I, for one, can't wait for the next in the series. I hope the author is "banging" away on her keyboard right now and conjuring up her next fantastic story.

Until Next Time,
Amy Lignor, [...]
Reviewer
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2011
NOTE: As an adult reader of YA books, I realize I am not the target market for these books and a lot of my disappointment with this book probably stems from the fact that the tone is very teenage (not all YA books are like this). Reviewing it for adult readers, I would give it 2 stars. If I were a teen, though, I probably would have given it 4 stars...so I averaged them. My review is geared toward adults who enjoy YA novels.

This is also the first in a series (Demonglass is also available).

This book kept appearing on my recommended list, and the premise sounded interesting, so I picked it up. It was a fast read, and certain elements of the book were strong (Sophie's character was well-rounded, the details allowed me to easily picture the scene and the supernatural elements were dealt with in a believeable way. Also Sophie's vampire roomate (and her story arc) was great).

My main issue with this was the feel of it. The pop-culture references annoyed me. Sophie's dialouge (especially when dealing with the 'mean trio') annoyed me. It's like 'The Craft' at a boarding school. (Trio of bad girls seeking a fourth...death and destruction ensue). The ending (I don't want to give it away) was pretty predictable, though the twist with Archer (the one-dimensional love interest) surprised me.

I don't want to sound overly critical, because it seems like a lot of people really liked this book, and if I was a teen, I probably would have, too. But if you're an adult reader who likes YA novels, I'd recommend skipping this one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2014
When I first started reading this I was not sure I wanted to finish it. It came across as VERY young adult. The first person narration style we get for Sophie is bona fide teen speak. So while I could quickly see this appealing to teens (13-17) I had a hard time thinking of anyone over the age of 20 that would enjoy being stuck in her head. Luckily I gave it a few chapters and it does mellow out a slight bit enough to tolerate. Through in some her snarky personality and it made the book reasonably enjoyable.

Before I go too far I want to be sure to explain that that my initial dislike of the book is bad for many others but the book, while having strong paranormal aspects, is in effect a teen drama/contemporary. Instead of the tradition jocks/nerds/cheerleader/etc cliche high school crowds we get fairies/werewolves/witches. Otherwise think high school with dormitories and that is Hex Hall. Now I have never been a big contemporary fan and I prefer my YA to be a bit more on the mature side than this. However, for the average high school student this book is perfect and most likely easy to relate to.

While the book started out with a major eye role, Sophie's character is one that is amusing to read through. The witty remarks made me grin sarcastically in several scenes. She is sent to Hex Hall after one too many spells have gone quite wrong to learn better control. Little does she know that she is in for a less than friendly welcome due to past events beyond her control. She is behind on her magic, has the only vampire for a roommate (and said vamp has a slight obsession with the color pink) and her family has quite a few skeletons in their closet that she must confront! Not to mention the attacks that are happening on the students!

Many bits and pieces are quite predictable but it is the manner in which the story is told that made this a worthwhile read. But if you are looking for twists and turns this is not it. It is a fast, mildly entertaining read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2010
After botching a love spell and blowing her cover as a witch, Sophie finds herself sent to a boarding school for rule breaking witches, warlocks, vampires, fairies, werewolves and shape shifters. Once there, Sophie engages in typical teenage situations, including sparring with the mean girl clique, crushing on a super-cute popular boy, and making friends. Sophie also discovers the web of secrets her family has been keeping from her as she delves deeper into understanding her powers. Complicating matters further are mysterious deadly attacks on the popular girls, and Sophie's best friend seems the most likely suspect.

While the "regular girl" aspects of the story are cute, they don't stand out as particularly fresh in any way. Sophie and all of the secondary characters, while easy to like, are interchangeable with a dozen different casts across the genre. The paranormal aspects are equally trite, with Hawkins offering nothing new or interesting to the genre. As a result, while I wasn't annoyed with the book, I was bored and unengaged for the first 100 pages.

Due to all the positive reviews, I decided to keep reading and I'm glad I did. Hawkins slowly drops clues to a greater plotline, and as the story progresses, Sophie uncovers more and more secrets and questions. The multiple mysteries kept my attention, and as I pieced together the clues and discovered questions that led to deeper mysteries, I finally found myself feeling that rush of excitement and *need* to read more. While a few of the "big reveals" were obvious well in advance, Hawkins did manage to throw me a few curve balls. Allusions to Sophie's ancestors and their involvement with secret societies set the stage for the next book and, at this point, I'm dying to know what happened in the past and how that will affect Sophie in the present.

Despite a rocky start, Hex Hall is a good addition to the paranormal YA genre. Light and sweet, this first book in the series hints at darker events in future installments, which will hopefully bring more depth and excitement to the stock cast and setting. As far as cliffhangers go, the central mystery about the attacks on the students is answered in this book, but there are a ton of questions still left unanswered that readers will have to remember for when Demonglass (book 2) comes out in March.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 3, 2010
A light, fun read, Hex Hall entertained me for the couple hours that it took to read this novel. A great book to pick up for a bit of escape time...fans of the teen paranormal genre won't be disappointed, unless you like your books to have some depth. Taken at face value, Hex Hall is what it is, light, airy and entertaining, much like if Wizards of Waverly Place were translated into book form.

REVIEW: Sophie Mercer is a witch. She found out when she was 12 and since then has been trying to live by incorporating it into her lifestyle. It is not going so well, especially when her spells inadvertently go wrong. Like the one she casts at prom that led to lots of screaming, some bodily harm, and the girl she tried to help screaming, "Witch!" Hence, the reason Sophie is now attending Hecate Hall, known to the creatures that are forced to attend, as Hex Hall. Home to faeries, witches, shapeshifters and one vampire, Hex Hall is juvie for the Prodigium (paranormals).

In Sophie's first day there she has alienated and pissed off the three other dark witches (and popular group), crushed on the hottest boy in school and scored as a roommate the only vampire at Hex Hall and a suspected murderer. Sophie has quite a year ahead of her.

When mysterious attacks begin happening on the other witches of Hex Hall all eyes land on Sophie's roommate and only friend, which is only natural considering they have been drained of blood. Even though Sophie wants to believe that her only friend is not responsible for these attacks...she can't help but wonder. In order to exonerate her friend, Sophie must find out exactly who is responsible for these attacks, without becoming a victim herself.

Take Evernight, House of Night, and Harry Potter put them all in a blender...puree. Voilà -- Hex Hall. I can't tell you how they are alike for fear of spoilers so you will just have to take my word for it. Besides the obvious inspirations, Hex Hall did entertain and I found myself enjoying the read. I was surprised though, considering this book is published through Hyperion Books for Children (Disney), with the amount of grammatical errors that peppered the pages. Tiny tid bits, but they were enough for me to stop and reread. Someone was slacking in the editing department the day this one got approved. Nothing serious to detract from the overall of this book though.

Likes: Cute and fuzzy characters, I even liked the bad guys. The ending had me quite upset, those betrayals always hurt big time. I could see a younger teen really getting into this story...so kudos. The house/school was well laid out in words, I could totally imagine it and it would translate well to film if it was picked up. Twists and turns kept me on my toes...always finding out more and more as the pages turned.

Dislikes: That it had very obvious influences. It was a bit on the shallow side, Sophie had a lot to deal with and I think her emotions were very well...shallow.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Younger teens should really like this book and there is nothing in the pages for parents to worry about. It might be a little too light for older readers. Fans of the above mentioned books and tv shows should get into this one.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Hmm, so I ended up not liking this one as much as I hoped. It still ended with enough cliffhangers that I'm definitely curious to pick up the second book. For some reason though, it didn't grab me and maybe that's because it reminded me so much of The Summoning, Vampire Academy and of course Harry Potter. While it has a lot of similarities to these books, it does stand on its own. There were a few twists here and there and I did like Sophie's character. The writing was well done, although there were a few cliffhanger chapter endings and when the next chapter would start it would pick up somewhere else, so that was sometimes a letdown. There were a couple storylines that I didn't care for, but overall it was an enjoyable read and I did appreciate all the magic (sometimes "magic" books are a little light on the magic) and I think if you're into magic/fantasy stories then you'll probably enjoy the book.

[...]
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2010
In Rachel Hawkins book, Hex Hall, we meet Sophia Mercer. Sophie is a teenage witch, who lives with her human mother and is just trying to be a normal high school student. When a love spell goes awry, Sophie is sent to Hecate Hall, a school for misfit Prodigium. Surrounded by witches, faeries, shapeshifters, and her new vampire best friend, Sophie still finds herself just not fitting in. When something starts attacking students and her best friend is suspect, Sophie must solve these mysteries and rise up to meet her destiny. With an absent Warlock father, and family secrets that Sophie doesn't even know, Sophie finds herself in a heap of trouble and struggling to find her way out.

I enjoyed reading this story. I wasn't in awe, but it was a decent book. I wasn't completely drawn into the story, but it was a light and easy read. I don't feel like there was enough character development in this book and I was left wondering a lot about characters. I'm ok with a mysterious character here and there, but not when all the characters have an air of mystery about them. There was a lot of things that characters did, that were never explained. I also never felt sucked in. There wasn't a lot of aw moments that you usually find in this sort of book and I didn't really feel like any of the characters were someone a young adult audience could relate to. I feel plot wise, there was some good moments, but everything just happened so quickly and the journey to big moments wasn't there. I enjoyed this book, but I feel there could have been more to it. I hope there is some character development in the next book and that we get to understand Sophie's world a bit better.

Originally posted on my blog Draw A Blank

Disclosure of Material Connection: I got this book from my local public library! I can say whatever I want. :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2010
It's been awhile since I've read anything featuring a witch as one of the primary characters, so I was so ecstatic to read this book the moment it ended up in my hands! Luckily, Hex Hall is a hilarious and fun addition to the Supernatural YA genre making this a series that has major promise in my opinion.

Sophie Mercer was a character that was so hard not to love and root for from the beginning. Since, she was laugh-out-loud funny and just had this complete sweet and normal tone to her. Plus, Archer Cross was divine, leaving me to really hope he somehow redeems himself in future books!

The plot was awesome and always packed in a twist that you didn't see coming. I loved seeing the different types of supernatural beings abilities, powers, exc. and the system of government they all basically were under. Plus, everything was felt just so original even with some tiny cliché's it had!

In all, Hex Hall is a book to read this upcoming March! My only complaint? I can't believe I have to wait SO LONG to read the sequel!

Grade: A+
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
haha like the title? It's for all the fans of boring similar same young adult books/genres/titles/bleck.

Sooooo why oh snap? Well Rachel Hawkins has given us a typical plot. Let's see we have a school for paranormal students (Evernight, Vampire Academy... well sort of, House of Night, Rampant...yes learning to kill unicorns count, and I'm sure a few others) anyway she took that and shook us up as far as the genre would allow.

Sophie has been to 19 different states in her 16 years of life. She's a witch (we learn a dark witch) and tends to mess things up, dying her hair purple for three days, love spells gone haywire or too strong... exc. Her father (mysterious Warlock in the curtains) sends her to Hectate Hall where she will learn to control herself and her power in a secluded environment. This school has everything Fae, shifters, weres, warlocks, witches and an odd vampire. Unfortunately Sophie's years of ignorance are about to come to an end, and of course sometimes ignorance IS really bliss.

Sophie does not seem like a dark witch, also I want to see a butt kicking vampire not just Jenna and Lord Byron (please Rachel Hawkins let the vamps see some action). But I have to say the ending really was surprise, I didn't trust certain people from the start, however I did trust others that turned out to be way wrong.... perhaps. I really hope the last line of the book doesn't come to pass and Sophie decides a different path, but who knows. All in all this book was a great YA read, I enjoyed every moment, every hex, every spell and fight... there were some good scenes. The next installment will definitely be one I'm looking out for.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2012
Mix together angst and attitude. Then pile on the romance and rebellion. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins is an addicting read. I wanted to guzzle it like a fizzy soft drink. Unfortunately, by the end, I also felt as if my teeth had rotted.

Just prior to adolescence, Sophie discovered that she is a witch. Since that time, Sophie's powers have gotten her into kicked out of nineteen schools in three years, but why should that stop her from using them again on prom night? To her credit, Sophie tries to use her powers for good. Poor Felicia doesn't have a date and so Sophie steps in to solve that problem in a big way. It doesn't faze Sophie when Felicia admits that she wants to date the same popular boy who is in every other young adult novel. Never mind that he is the SGA president, football captain, and everything good. Sophie can handle anything! She also has a soft heart. Still, you'd think someone who has been kicked out of nineteen schools might tone down the display of her powers, but Sophie apparently lacks that discretion. She conjures up a big dark cloud with purplish light, sends lightning racing across the sky, and.... The rest of the details aren't important. All you really need to know is that this extravagant display of witchcraft lands Sophie in a reform school for wayward "Prodigium"; otherwise known as witches, faeries, and shape shifters.

I forgave Hawkins for that bizarre description of Sophie's witchcraft, because of these two lines: "I kept concentrating, and as I did, the cloud swirled faster until it was a perfect circle with a hole in the center. The Magic Doughnut, as I'd dubbed it the first time I'd created one on my twelfth birthday." Ah-ha! Upon reading those lines, I decided that Hex Hall would be a light teen romance and so I stuck with Hawkins even when the first chapter turned farcical. Unfortunately, all too quickly Sophie's sense of humor morphs into plain old adolescent attitude and angst. My notes about the book's best highlights stopped growing, with the one exception being the attempted murders that happen halfway through. It's not a good sign in a book or a movie when you start wishing for slayings. Okay, I didn't actually start WISHING for murders to happen. Hex Hall isn't that bad. I just found the murders a refreshing break from the routine adolescent fare which filled the rest of Hex Hall. As such, my notes about the the book's worst highlights grew longer and longer until I ran out of room.

When you think of female teen fiction, what comes to mind? If you said bad boys and mean girls, you'll have nicely summarized the bulk of Hex Hall. In chapter two, Sophie meets Archer. He is leaning against a tree, his collar is unbuttoned, his tie hangs loose, and on his face is a smirk. Yup, that sounds about right for your typical "bad" boy. After rescuing her from a werewolf, he angers Sophie by insulting her powers. Yup, that also sounds about right for an opening scene. After all, if Archer was nice from the start, what would be his attraction? And, if Sophie liked him from the start, what fun would there be in his pursuit of her? Next, in chapter four, Sophie meets the three "charmed" ones. They are pretty and mean. What else would you expect? After all, if they were plain and kind, what would the pay-off be when they finally accept Sophie? Oh, there is one other thing that female teen fiction should bring to mind: friendship. My favorite character is Jenny. Besides being Sophie's roommate, she's loves pink and gets her beverages from a blood bank. She does the latter because is she's also a vampire. Oh, she is also suspected of those attempted murders. She's one of the more interesting characters in a parade of clichés.

To a certain extent, Hex Hall reminds me of the movie Mean Girls, because initially Sophie doesn't want anything to do with the three "charmed" ones. From them, she learns that there are two different kinds of witches. White witches do minor spells such as love potions, fortune telling, and other seemingly innocent things such as make "bunnies and kittens and rainbows appear out of thin air." Dark witches, on the other hand, cast major spells that as control weather, raise the dead and, as Sophie puts it "spells that hurt people". When Sophie realizes exactly what kind of witches they are, she turns down their offer to join them. In turn, the leader Elodie accuses Sophie of thinking she is better of them, but Sophie claims that isn't her reason. This scenario is one of several where I think Hawkins missed an opportunity to instill moral values into Hex Hall. While I dislike preachy novels, I also admire those authors who slip little snippets of wisdom into their books. Another missed opportunity occurs when Jenny tells Sophie that students aren't allowed to use their powers to be lazy, but then nothing else is ever said about this idea.

The above criticisms aside, my biggest peeve is how much Hex Hall is a Harry Potter clone. To start, Hecate Hall is housed at a remote location. Students can reach this location only by ferry. Inside the school, a spiral staircase twists up three stories, seemingly supported by nothing. Pale and cold people sometimes sweep by the students. I'll give you one guess as to what they are. There's only one bathroom on the entire floor. One teacher picks on Sophie and even some of her peer despise her because, unbeknownst to Sophie, she possesses the strongest powers available to a witch. There is a groundskeeper and even a forbidden wood. While the young adult world could benefit from books that buck the trends, I wouldn't have minded a good Harry Potter clone. The problem is that Sophie is sent to a reformatory school. With that little catch, Hawkins is off the hook when it comes to providing readers with a cleverly imaginative world such as Rowling provided in Harry Potter. Hecate Hall is pretty plain. For example, its dining room is simply a large room that has a jumble of tables shoved into it. While there are actually chandeliers, these are covered with what look like garbage bags. As for the food, even though it whets Sophie's appetite, don't you think a banquet should consist of more than macaroni and cheese, chicken, shrimp, and chocolate cake?

While I love a good fantasy, Hex Hall wasn't one. Sadly, too many of the young adult paranormal books I've read have disappointed me. This puts me on the hunt for the exception. Or maybe I'll just stick with young adult fiction that has nothing to do with witches, vampires, werewolves, and faeries.
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