Book Review: Rachel Hawkins’ School Spirits

Posted May 14, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Rachel Hawkins’ School Spirits

School Spirits

on May 14, 2013 and has 297 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

First in the School Spirits urban fantasy series for Young Adults — a spin-off series from Hawkins’ Hex Hall series — and revolving around Izzy Brannick, the youngest and one of the last of the family. The majority of this story takes place in Alabama.

My Take

This is one of those books that makes you want to curl up in a comfy armchair. It’s cute with a unique twist on teenage monster-hunting even if it is a bit simplistic with a cozy troupe of outcast characters.

Hawkins was clever with Romy’s arguments as to why the PMS club deserves to be a school club. Hawkins gets even more clever in her setting Izzy up with a need to prove herself, although it got old rather quickly. And Izzy tends to jump too quickly to conclusions. It’s not right to condemn someone on conjecture alone without actual proof.

I’m curious as to why or how the Brannicks have been so reduced.

Dang, it took going back over my notes to finally get what Pascal was talking about — the boy in the mirror. Wee-eeewwww. I am surprised that Hawkins doesn’t repeat this suspicion.

Nor does she do well with the guilt she’s trying to get Mom to project. It’s more as if someone suggested humanizing Mom or wanted her to be more mom-like, but Hawkins never really got behind it. It’s heavyhanded and unnatural.

Hmmm, another loose end with Dex’s comment about being viewed as a freak when he was younger — I do like his confident independence!

Torin cracks me up with his assessment of Izzy’s wardrobe:

“Whatever shall you wear…there’s the black T-shirt with black jeans. Or perhaps you’re going for elegance over function, you could wear the black T-shirt over black jeans. …Ooh! … Do you know what would be particularly fetching? The black — “

There’s some fun snark in this…intelligent and spot on. A nice core group of friends whom I’ll miss in the next story. Hint, hint-hint, hint…it would be lovely if disaster were to break out and the Brannicks just had to stay…

I’m surprised that Anderson doesn’t stop and pick Romy up to go to school since he has a car and appears to live along her route.

I’m not sure which was supposed to be the true purpose of School Spirits: settling with the ghost or the tension and drama of just what Dexter was — a Prodigium or something Izzy has never before encountered. Whatever he is, he’s my favorite in School Spirits!

Oh, and Dexter’s decision at the end just made me cry. A bit melodramatic on Hawkins’ part…but definitely requiring Kleenex. I did expect more from that hammer Mom was wielding. And what’s with Mom’s contradictory attitude about Torin?? I don’t get it.

I didn’t care for the very end of the story. It’s too simplistic and takes away half the fun.

Still, I’m looking forward to the next in the series.

The Story

It’s a moping Izzy who ends up going undercover in high school when Maya conjures up a haunting case at Mary Evans High. An unnerving — and first time — experience for our Izzy who’s been homeschooled all her life.

The Characters

Isolde “Izzy” Brannick, a strong girl who heals fast and can sense Prodigium, is one of the last two of the Brannicks, a family of monster hunters with a compound in the woods in Tennessee. Once an independent and large family, the Brannicks have been reduced to being a police force for the governing Council. And they don’t do magic! Finley is the slightly older sister who went missing. Torin is the 18-year-old, give or take 400+ years, evil warlock who got trapped in a mirror. He can travel between mirrors and see into the future, one that sees Izzy freeing him somehow. There’s a Rowena who makes a very quick, brief appearance in one of the dreams into which he pulls Izzy. Aislinn is Izzy’s mom. Maya is a hedge witch Mom knows and employs.

Dexter O’Neil is a gorgeous young man with asthma and an attraction to Izzy. He just loves what she did to McCrary! Nana is his grandmother who is taking care of him. Romy Hayden started up the Parnaormal Management Society (PMS). Anderson is the rest of their group — the resident ghost lore researcher; he’s in love with Romy.

Other classmates and teachers at Mary Evans High include:
Adam Lipinski is anti-PMS, but pro-Izzy. At least for a while. Ben McCrary sounds like he’s a jerk at school; I like what Izzy did to him, and it does gain Izzy a number of friends. Beth Tanner is Ben’s girlfriend, and another target.

Mrs. Steele is the English teacher. Mr. Snyder is the chemistry teacher who was attacked.

The Prodigium is the governing council of supernaturals; cousin Sophie is destined to be Head of the Council some day (which I’m curious about).

Pascal is a rogue vampire Izzy is sent to capture. Mary Evans is the ghost of a high school girl who got died.

The Itineris is a portal that allows the Brannicks to travel quickly all over the world, with only a few drawbacks.

The Cover and Title

The cover is definitely pretty colors with that bright gold and the deep teal. The black-and-white checkerboard floor is a nice touch, although I’m not sure why the standing Izzy is reflected in Torin’s mirror as Izzy…

The title should really be singular as those School Spirits are really only one.