Saturday, 21 April 2012

Spellbound by Rachel Hawkins

Spellbound by Rachel Hawkins is the concluding volume in the Hex Hall trilogy. You can read my reviews for Hex Hall and Demonglass (US) / Raising Demons (UK/Aus) at those links. I bought the UK/Aus ebook edition of Spellbound but because I have the first two books in US paperback editions, I have also included the US cover below. Well, actually, I included it because for the first time I prefer US covers for a series. But anyway. (I can’t help but wonder why all the US covers feature a cat. There are no cats in the series whatsoever! Is it just supposed to be a generic “oh look witch” indicator? Inquiring minds need to know.

Being the third and final volume in the series, this review is going to be vaguer than usual thanks to avoiding spoilers.

Spellbound picks up exactly where Demonglass/Raising Demons left off. There is a lot more action spread throughout the book (compare with book 2 where most of the excitement was towards the end). There’s still piles of sarcasm from Sophie, the main character, but in contrast with the early books, in which she just enjoyed being snarky, now she’s sarcastic out of fear and nervousness. There were still some funny lines that made me laugh out loud, but overall the plot, subject matter and stakes were more serious.

In my review of Demonglass, I said that there were higher stakes and more serious business than in Hex Hall. This trend continues with Spellbound raising the stakes as far as possible (because what can out, er, stake an apocalyptic war?) and throwing the characters further into the deep end.

In some ways, the good guys’ plans seemed a little simplistic, but on the other hand, considering that Sophie, a teenager, was a key player, that’s probably realistic. I appreciated that when they decided “ok, we’ll try and do blah and hopefully that will save the day”, it might have looked like it would be too easy, but it never was.

As far as the romantic plot line went, the love triangle annoyed me, but I think that’s mainly because I’m really over love triangles in YA. It wasn’t actually poorly executed, despite me being on the “wrong team”. and hoping the other guy would get killed. I would have appreciated a less formulaic and more surprising approach, but it certainly wasn’t something which ruined the book for me. (And for more on why I’m complaining about love triangles, I recommend this post by Shaheen.)

The ending was satisfactory with the world saved (yeah, so not a spoiler) and all the characters were nicely accounted for. Overall, I enjoyed Spellbound more than Demonglass but I had less fun reading it than I did Hex Hall. I continue to recommend this series to anyone who likes YA, paranormal adventures and snarky sarcasm.

4 / 5 stars

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