Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It Put a Spell on Me

Spell Bound (A Hex Hall Novel)
Hex Hall has grown up a lot over the past few years. We have seen a fun, sometimes goofy middle reader transform into a pretty serious story (not without funny, snarky moments of course!). We have watched Sophie Mercer grow up from a confused Prodigium to a demon ready to use her powers to prevent evil. And now we find ourselves at the final installment of Rachel Hawkins' trilogy, Spell Bound.

Sophie knows she is a demon, and her powers were supposed to be stripped (like her demon father's were), but she can feel them inside her. Somehow they weren't stripped, just buried deep inside where she can't tap into them. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), her dead, now ghost, former rival Elodie is tied to her and can possess Sophie and use her own magic in desperate times. Sophie isn't thrilled by being possessed, but since Elodie has saved her life, she really can't complain. When Sophie wakes up after narrowly escaping the attack that may have killed her father and both boys she cares about, the last place she thought she would wake up is at the Brannick's house- the family who take Prodigium hunting to a whole new level. 

What Sophie learns about the Brannick's is something she can barely believe- not only are they no longer the crazy group of hunters they used to be (only 3 members left and two are barely teenagers), but Sophie's mother is one of them, making Sophie a bizarre demon/demon-hunter mixture. At the Brannick's, Sophie learns that the people who attacked and all but destroyed the Council are actually council members trying to rally the rest of the Prodigium into striking back with full force and they aren't afraid to create demon children in order to get what they want. They have control of Hex Hall and summon its former students to the school in order to complete their demonic experiments and raise an army no one could fight. Sophie is summoned to the island as well, but there is no way she intends to go down without a fight. She isn't going to let anyone hurt her friends, regardless of where their intentions came from. For Sophie, enemy and ally is no longer who she thought and the war just got scarier.

This was a bittersweet ending to a series I really enjoyed. I understand why Hawkins ended the story like she did, and honestly I wouldn't change a thing about the ending, but that doesn't mean I didn't find myself thinking, "Awww. C'mon! Did you HAVE to?!" Sophie is a great character because she is spunky and sassy and fun to travel along with, but in this story, the supporting characters I loved so much were lost in the efforts to wrap up the story. I think too much time was spent with the Brannick's and then Hawkins realized the story had to have an ending and shoved a huge amount of meat into the final half of the book. Regardless, though, I really thought this ending was very good and it made me appreciate the series as a whole. The series started as a pretty goofy middle reader, but by the end of this third book, it was nosing into the young adult realm, which is helpful for young readers. 

This is a great series for any middle reader or low-skilled young adult. I have given it to a number of nieces/cousins and they have enjoyed the story. I think it might be too young for a mature young adult, though, so be aware of the proper age group the series was intended for. Some of the demonic action in the end gets pretty hairy, but nothing is overly violent or too scary, so it remains appropriate for the same age group as the first book was. I have to say I am sad to see this series go! It was fun to look forward to these stories every year or so! Looking forward to something new out of Hawkins!

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