Hex Hall #1. Author: Rachel Hawkins.
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 shapeshifters.
Bland. Pretty boring. I may be spoiled by all the epic fantasy I read, but I just wasn’t drawn into the story-world; there’s no particular world-building and the characters seem petty and dull.
I do think it’s all right to use a pre-existing set up, like basic werewolves and vampires, without any extra worldbuilding, so that you can jump straight into your story and focus on the action without explaining anything; or even just because you like that world. It does run more risk of being boring, though, especially when the action focuses around a strange on-off romance/attraction and a ghostly grandmother whom we all (except the main character) know is up to no good. Maybe I’d have enjoyed it more if I liked Mean Girls or some such, but I just don’t get into dynamics that revolve around petty school kids and nasty rumors.
Sexual Content: “Or maybe they were staring at me as I tried to discreetly wipe sweat from between my breasts without appearing to get to second base with myself.” / Light innuendo. / Some kissing, characters taking each other’s shirts off./ Girl says she plans to sleep with her boyfriend for the first time after the school dance.
Language: 24 scatological terms, 8 d***, 5 derogatory terms, 4 hell
Violence: Minor car accident, nobody seriously hurt but one character cuts his head. One character backhands another. Girl pepper sprays a boy in the face. Students have to watch a magical history video that shows witches hung and stabbed, vampires staked, werewolves killed with silver, and fae shackled with iron. Some of the witch kids say they were sent to the reform school for turning a boy into a rat, and vanishing a person. Some hand-to-hand fighting in defense class. Characters find a girl unconscious and bloody in a bathtub. Demon kills girl by draining her blood. Character slices a demon’s head off.
Other: The backstory for witches/shapeshifter/fae existing is that they were originally the angels who refused to choose between Lucifer and God. Demons also exist, clearly shown as evil, and make at least one appearance.