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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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What's the story?
Sophie Mercer has an unbelievable first day at Hecate -- or Hex -- Hall, \ a special kind of reform school for kids trying to tame their magical \ powers. When she arrives, school heartthrob Archer Cross immediately \ saves her from a werewolf -- and she makes enemies out of the three most \ popular girls. From there, life only gets more intense for Sophie, who discovers that her powers are \ stronger than any other Prodigium (the collective name for shapeshifters, witches, and faeries). She's even stronger than her father, the head of the Prodigium and Hex Hall's benefactor. But Sophie has a lot to learn about who she can and cannot trust at Hex Hall. Luckily, she has her roommate and best friend, Jenna -- the school's only vampire -- on her side.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what this story has in common with Harry Potter. Why are tales about witches, warlocks, and other fantasy creatures so popular with tween and teen readers?
This book has a sequel, Demonglass. Will you read that book? Are sequels usually as good as the original installment? Do they typically get more violent or mature in other ways?
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.