A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Tween fantasy lovers will be enchanted by this book, and excited to read its sequel, Demonglass. Kids will get to know a bit about Lord Byron, who is the head English teacher at Sophie's school.
The main character shows that making the right decision is rewarding in the end.
Positive Role Models
Sophie is a thoughtful and independent girl who makes positive decisions based on her personal core values. She displays great strength, courage, and loyalty when turning down an enticing offer made by the school's popular girls, opting instead to be an outcast. She is also powerful and witty.
Violence & Scariness
A high school girl is mysteriously murdered. Her body is found surrounded by blood, but details involving the cause of death remain unknown until book's finish. Also, a teacher lectures her students about hate crimes and to underscore her point, shows graphic depictions of hangings, beatings, and burnings. Hex Hall's high school students are then taught how to fight for self-defense purposes in their P.E. course.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teenage friends mention losing their virginity. A detailed and very passionate kiss is shared between Sophie and her crush. Sophie's roommate is a lesbian.
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Certain girls are bullied and called names.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this fantasy novel is about a reform school where werewolves, fairies, witches, and warlocks roam -- and some not-so-friendly ghosts and demons. Whenever the ghosts and demons appear, this quixotic tale quickly becomes dark and eerie. Sensitive tweens might be frightened by the white and black magic talk, along with the mysterious demon that may or may not be killing off students. Parents should also know that certain characters are segregated and bullied, and a graphic discussion about hate crimes against magical beings takes place. This book is the first in a series featuring a witty, powerful main character who makes the right decisions, even when they're difficult.
Is It Any Good?
Rachel Hawkins' first novel is both enchanting and engaging. Readers will be swept up in the fantasy details immediately: At Hecate Hall, furniture changes form, werewolves prowl the courtyard, and fairies float by elegantly (and a little arrogantly) on iridescent wings. And the creativity continues throughout Sophie's story. For example, Lord Byron is the head English teacher (the romantic writer accepted the position at Hex Hall after adopting Vampirism on his death bed). The quick-witted main character herself is an American girl version of Harry Potter. Her clever first-person narration, as well as the authentic dialogue between teen characters, makes the book fun and accessible. Readers will quickly be simply spellbound by this first novel -- and be excited to continue this magical story in the sequel, Demonglass.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.