Review: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

May 6, 2013 4.5 stars, Book Review, Young Adult 15 ★★★★½

Pabkin’s One Liner: A super fun paranormal mystery with a side of ahhh sweet.


Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy’s mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who’s always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins’ delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!

School Spirits was just what I needed after having read other heavier fantasy. In comparison it was a breathe of fresh air. It was light and funny with endearing somewhat innocent characters.

I know this is categorized as young adult but I would really place it in between middle grade and YA.  Mostly because even though these teens are about 16 they seem relatively naive to a lot of things where romance is concerned. I didn’t mind this at all but I’m sure some readers might have issue with it.

Izzy Brannick is descended from a family that make it their life’s mission to hunt and destroy paranormal baddies. Her sister, Finley recently disappeared on a job Izzy was supposed to be helping her with. Now all that’s left of the Brannick family is Izzy and her mom, who seems to think Izzy needs to take things easy. So she packs them off to a small town for ghost haunting which is supposed to be an extremely easy job.

Things get complicated when Izzy starts to make friends despite herself. Her friends are a misfit crew of wannabe ghost hunters, the Paranormal Management Society, PMS – none are cranky that I know of haha.. The members: flamboyant Romy, charming Dex, and distracted Anderson. I adored Dex and his eccentric personality. He feels like an old soul trapped in a young body, he is mischievous and you can see the possible romantic spark between him and Izzy.

The other character I really loved was Torin, a young, yet very old warlock trapped in a mirror. I have a total weakness for bad boys with loose morals.

This adventure moves fast especially considering it wasn’t very action packed.  When I finished I immediately bought a copy of Hex Hall also by Rachel Hawkins which School Spirits is a spin off from.


Tabitha the Pabkins

School Spirits

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• This advance reader copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. To view our full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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15 Responses to “Review: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins”

  1. DannyBookworm

    I loved her previous series but I’m rather sad to hear that the characters behave so young and naive. I rarely pick up books with characters below 16 … Still! I’m sure this will be a a fun series 🙂

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I wouldn’t say they behave so young, just that they seemed a little innocent I guess. It’s hard to describe. Maybe I’ve just read too many YA books that have the teens being crazy hormonal. This was light and great, I liked it just the way it was! Can’t wait to hear what you think!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Oh it was so sweet I definitely recommend it. It didn’t feel juvenile by any means, just a touch more innocent than I’m used to. Doooo it! haha

  2. kimbacaffeinate

    I am glad you enjoyed it and it sounds like exactly what you needed. I have been disappointed by a string of YA that feel way to middle school and wonder why they don’t just classify it there. I think my niece would love this it has so many elements she adores. Awesome review!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes I thought it was rather strange that it had more of a middlegrade vibe to it. Not completely middlegrade…but more in the middle leaning that way though. Another example – I’m reading The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson – its classified and noted as being his first YA book – but I’m over halfway through and even though the character is 16 it still feels VERY middlegrade to me. I know he writes a children’s/MG series about …uhh I forget Evil Librarians (I keep meaning to read it since I LOVE this author) but I’m thinking he needed to pull it more into the YA realm. But ultimately – how does one DO that? Sounds like a blog topic for me to rant on haha.

      • kimbacaffeinate

        Agreed, it ultimately is an epic fail on the author’s part to make the character truly sixteen. Honestly, the last book I read like this was Spellbinding and while it had other issues as well, the girl was turning sixteen and acted like she was turning thirteen at best. If the book had been marketed as middle school, it might have been successful.

        • Tabitha the Pabkins

          See that’s the way I felt about the Kim Harrison YA book – I think it was Once Dead Twice Shy? I read it and it wasn’t bad it just felt so juvenile – she was supposed to be in her high teens and it read like she was just as you said, 13. I may be 32 but I REMEMBER how I was as a teenager, and how all the other girls I knew were. If a YA book falls so crazy far from that mark It makes me wonder. Now when I’m like 60 ….I could say that might be harder for me to remember but by then who knows I might not be reading YA books anymore =P

  3. BookishTrish

    Sometimes light, fun and sweet is exactly what you need. Thanks for pointing out it’s on the cusp between MA/YA, I prefer to know these things in advance so I can alter my expectations.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      That is exactly how I felt going into this. I do admit it threw me a little that it felt younger but I was fine to roll with the punches. Just think of it as a YA with a very sheltered protagonist in all areas of being a teen/romance and where romance is concerned. Course – the other teens were like that too – hence why I felt it was leaning towards YA. Because one teen I could understand being that way – but almost all of them? Still LOVED it!

  4. melliane

    I liked this one, it was a fun book! I need to read more books from her other series…

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Definitely – this is the first book of hers I’ve read – but I already bought the Hex Hall book so I can check those out. My buddy April says they are great!

      • melliane

        only read the first one of the hex hall series and I loved it, so I need to read book 2 now. I hope you’ll like them too!