Friday, March 22, 2013

Enter the Underworld

Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3)Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sophie is powerless, the people she loves most are missing - and at Hex Hall someone is raising a demon army that will destroy the world. To stop them, Sophie may have to enter Hell itself.

The thrilling finale to the Hex Hall series! I enjoyed this trilogy, which got darker and darker with each book. Sophie is a smart and capable heroine, quippy and loyal. The return of a character I wanted more of from Hex Hall was satisfying, and the ending is bittersweet but most of the plot threads are neatly resolved.

My only wish is that the island of Hex Hall was more appealing (though it is an unfair comparison, the gold standards of fantasy settings are Gormenghast and Hogwarts Castle). I wanted to see more of the world of the Prodigium, but the breakneck plot only allows for occasional glimpses into the concealed world of witches, shapeshifters, faeries, and vampires.

As an aside, while I love seeing Lord Byron resurrected as a vampire, I think that any vampire in his or her right mind would really have turned Oscar Wilde. We've seen vampire Elvis, natch (Bubba from Dead Until Dark). Why no Wilde? The man was known for wearing green velvet capes! "Creature of the night" would have been a perfect fit on him. (Also, why is there a black cat in every U.S. cover of this book? There isn't a single familiar - unless you count slobbery werewolves - in any of the three books. I suppose a black cat symbolizes witches, but still. It's a stretch.)

There is a spin-off series that starts with School Spirits and follows one of the Brannick monster-hunters (I suspect that the unresolved plot points from Spell Bound show up there). Other series with some of the boarding-school spirit and strong female characters are Mind Games by Kiersten White and Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger.

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