Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shape shifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
I don't know why I waited so long to read this book. It was excellent, and I was disappointed when I had to wait a few weeks for the sequel. I think my favorite part was Sophie's sarcastic tone. It was very true-to-life, sounded like a lot of teenagers I know: a tone that sounds so put-upon, as if the whole world is out to get them, and yet still sounds young and fresh. Hawkins' gift is tone and characterization, because Sophie is not the only spot-on character. I think all the people in the book, from Sophie's mom to the villain, had excellent motivations and personalities that affected the scenes in great and surprising ways. That's not to say that the plotting of the book was bad, far from it. However, it did seem that at points the quality of the plot was sacrificed for a great characterization scene. None of these scenes affected the book incredibly negatively, however, I do think there are a few pacing issues. For me the characters more than made up for it, though. The worldbuilding was also a bonus. Hawkins has created a great parallel world for witches and denizens of magic, and it is totally believable and immersable, even if it is a little anglo-centric and imperial. In all a great book, and more than worth picking up.