Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spell Bound

"Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium.  Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.
Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?"

Oh honey, it's already too late. Far, far too late. In fact, I'm pretty sure the clock ran out somewhere in the first few chapters of the second book.

I'll admit to really liking Hex Hall, the first in this series. After all the sappy, drippy, formulaic YA paranormal romance out there, it was fun to see someone poke fun at that template while still working within it. Sophie herself was a likeable and nicely sassy character. It was also a relief to see a girl reacting with a bit of spirit rather than rolling over and asking for more when the male lead is playing his first-few-chapters-total-tool character. Interesting scenery, fun secondary characters, nuanced villains (ish, I mean, Hawkins is no Penman after all). But this isn't a review of that first book. It's the review of the third book wherein all those wells have run dry and we must cling to a fast paced plot as we tumbled over the rapids toward the vapid finish (contradicting water metaphors? sorry.).

Somewhere along the way the series stopped being light satire of the genre and bought into the formula lock, stock, and barrel. All that was left was Sophie's sarcasm, but even that got stretched until she was practically telling bad puns for most of the book. Also, somehow most of the other characters weirdly started saying the same sorts of things, and suddenly everyone in the book has the same sense of humor.  Of course, the idea is that Sophie et al are trying to deal with the stress through humor, but that seems like an opportunity wasted, to me. The girl is supposed to be walking to hell and back, and all we get are a few odd jokes? 

Luckily, as I said, the plot moves quickly and that plot-driven quality got me through it. I was not emotionally attached to Sophie and somewhere along the way I  completely forgot why I ever cared about Archer, but it's action packed so you get to the last page. And then we wrap everything up with a nice bow, because we've totally given up on the genre-satire bit we had going in book one. Just kill of one corner of the love triangle, remove all nuance from the baddies before whacking them off in one fell swoop, reassemble the paranormal "counsel" out of thin air, and crown our girl queen-of-awesome. And then there was Elodie.

Oh Elodie. Such an interesting character with such potential. I truly enjoyed reading her, at times liking her infinitely more than Sophie. She's got such an arc here, too. Her history with Sophie's man, her own issues with Sophie. She's a tragic little thing with attitude. And then she very conveniently falls for the axed portion of Sophie's love triangle and get a very disappointing "happy" ending of her own. I wanted to believe there was more to Elodie than the desire to make out with a nice ghost guy. Oh well.

Rating: Two glittering demon fairies.

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