In the wake of a love spell gone horribly wrong, Sophie Mercer, a sixteen-year-old witch, is shipped of to Hectate "Hex" Hall, a boarding school for witches, shapeshifters and faeries. The traumas of mortal high school are nothing compared to the goings on at "Freak High." It's bad enough that she has to deal with a trio of mean girls led by the glamorous Elodie, but it's even worse when she begins to fall for Elodie's gorgeous boyfriend, Arches Cross, and frankly terrifying that the trio are an extremely powerful coven of dark witches.
But when Sophie begins to learn the disturbing truth about her father, she is forced to face demons both metaphorical and real, and come to terms with her growing power as a witch.
I came to this book a little unsure but not sure why. I loved the cover, it's got great blurb but I felt it may be a little too Harry Potter. However, I soon fell in love with the main character, Sophie, from the point where she tries to stop a werewolf attack by yelling, "BAD DOG!" at the top of her voice - priceless. We meet Sophie as she tries to help a fellow outcast at school by performing a love spell to help her attract one of the coolest boys in school. It works - too well; he crashes into the hall by car and screams his undying love. This leads to her banishment to Hectate Hall which helps kids control their powers and ultimately blend in without drawing attention to themselves. Fae are there for flying to catch their bus, shapeshifters for turning into lions in public and so on.
Once there, Sophie meets three powerful witches who seem overly keen for her to join their coven and a vampire whose last roommate died, drained of blood. I loved Sophie's voice, it's strong and sarcastic; she has no problems resisting the coven trio and is happy to befriend Jenna who's the only vampire at Hectate. Added to this is a character called Archer Cross who provides a love interest with a difference. The relationships between all the main characters are intriguing - nothing is as it seems. The importance of blending in is highlighted early in the book, pupils are treated to a life-like slide show of what has happened to supernatural beings through history. We're introduced to an organisation called L'Occhio di Dio who have committed their lives to ridding the world of witches, fae and the such.
I whipped through this book, keen to know who was responsible for the killings, what (if anything) was going to happen with Archer and how was Sophie was going to deal with the coven? Added to this is the additional interest of Sophie's dad and how her family background affects her present. Ex-teacher Rachel Hawkins has a way of writing perfect teenage dialogue, I believed everything the characters said. Sophie's emotional journey is well done too and very touching. Once I'd finished I felt a pang of regret that I'd finished it so quickly - the wait for the second book begins.