Monday, June 10, 2013

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

“Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters.”

A spin-off from the Hex Hall series (which you don’t need to have read) featuring Isolde Brannick.
It has been a year since Finley Brannick went missing. Finley and her younger sister Isolde were on a fairly routine mission in New Orleans to deal with a coven of Dark Witches. At the last minute, Finley lets Izzy stay in the car to read her book. When she didn’t return promptly, Izzy went in search of her sister. The house was empty and her sister’s weapon belt lay discarded on the floor. She and her mother searched for six months before giving up.
Now on her first solo mission, Izzy runs into a mind reading vampire who distracts her by mentioning Finley. She is thrown for a loop when the vampire voices her concern that the boy in the mirror had something to do with Finley’s disappearance. Distracted, the vampire gets the upper hand and pins Izzy. He has bitten her neck when her mother rushes in and dispatches the vampire. Back at home, her mother, Aislinn, wants to curtail her solo missions for the time being. Izzy lets her know that the vampire rattled her by reading her mind and mentioning Finley. Both continue to be distraught over her disappearance.
In the Brannick war room, a mirror hangs on the wall. Izzy goes there to visit Torin, the boy in the mirror. He is really a warlock that has been trapped for hundreds of years and the mirror has been in the possession of the Brannick family. Torin is good for the occasional prophecy he acts as Izzy’s confident in her otherwise lonely life. Recounting her incident with the vampire and subsequent rescue by her mother, Torin tries to reassure her. Her mother has already lost one daughter; she doesn’t want to lose another. The vampire’s words about the boy in the mirror cross her mind. Once again, she asks him if he knows anything about Finley’s disappearance. Torin gently tells her no. he jokes that one day Izzy will be the one to free him from the mirror. She states that will never happen. Torin warns her that she and her mother will begin a long journey in the morning. He refuses to answer any more of her questions.
The next morning, Izzy and Aislinn travel to Alabama to meet up with Maya. Maya, a hedge (learned not natural) witch, tracks news stories that might involve the supernatural for Aislinn. She shares a story about a high school teacher in Mississippi found nearly dead after a blow to his head. He was found alone on a classroom that was locked from the inside. Her mother believes it is a haunting and it is their duty to keep the students of Mary Evans High School safe. Always shying away from schools because of their irregular lifestyle, Izzy questions if she will be going to high school instead of continue to be homeschooled. It will be the best way to carry out reconnaissance work and might just be good for them as well, her mother believes. They make plans to move to Ideal, Mississippi.
Her first day at school is pretty normal. Everybody stares when she enters the classroom. Gym was the one class Izzy felt comfortable with. Unfortunately during a dodge ball game against a jerk, she unintentionally dislocates his shoulder with a ball. The coach sends her to run laps as punishments. Circling the track, she notices a boy staring at her. On her third lap, he is waiting for her on the track. He strikes up a conversation and Izzy begins to wonder if he is flirting with her. He introduces himself as Dex and he will save her a seat on the bus tomorrow. Before leaving, he shakes her hand and Izzy immediately notices a subtle shock but Dex didn’t seem to. She realizes that Dex is a Prodigium.
Does a ghost haunt Mary Evans High School? Can Izzy fit in at high school and make friends? Will she and her mother ever discover what happened to Finley? Did Torin have something to do with Finley’s disappearance? What kind of Prodigium is Dex? What happens when Izzy, closed off from others in the past, begins to open up to the possibility of friendships and a relationship?

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