*Just be aware: if you have not read the first book, Hex Hall, there be spoilers here* Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. She’s not. She thought hot Archer Cross was a good guy. He’s not. She thought spending the summer with her absentee-Head of Council- father would be a simple prelude to the procedure that would lock her crazy powers away forever. It wasn’t. Until it sort of was. The only thing she was right about? Well…Archer IS hot… So let me just start by saying that Sophie Mercer is the voice inside my head when I’m dealing with customers at work. Snarky, flippant, and really not wanting to think about the charlie foxtrot that just got dropped in my lap. She doesn’t get to talk out loud when I’m at work- that would probably get me fired- but she’s definitely hanging out for the entertainment value. Having the second book come out made me a little giddy. Does the humor try too hard? Sometimes, but most of the time when that happens, Sophie (as the narrator) is aware of it because she’s trying desperately not to freak out over one thing or another. It’s not a weapon (yet- give it a few years and another handful of horrific experiences) but it’s definitely a shield. It’s clever, it’s funny, it sometimes falls flat. In other words, it’s natural. The relationships are very movingly complicated at times. There are misunderstandings, some of them because of heightened emotion or stress, some because of natural awkwardness. While the relationship between Jenna and Vix could be more finely drawn, we are seeing it from Sophie’s point of view, so the deeper aspects are private things we don’t get the chance to see. Makes sense. The conflict with Archer is beautifully push and pull, with a healthy helping of teen angst that doesn’t cross into emo or make me want to roll my eyes and shut the book. The flare-ups, in whatever emotion they happen to be in, feel real rather than staged. Some of the choices Sophie makes are surprisingly mature. Usually followed by something stupid, of course, because- let’s face it- that’s the obligation of teens. At least in novels, anyway, because that’s how we get fun stories. I wish I knew more about Cal. I get that he’s a bit of an enigma to Sophie, but it feels like there’s so much more to him that we’re not seeing, and that’s important, given that he’s being set up as a sort of rival for Sophie’s affections and attention. What that feeling doesn’t tell me is whether or not we’re going to get that curiosity satisfied in later books. That Cal remains significant to the story is clear, but some of his actions come off as unintentionally creepy given how little we really know of him. The mythology in the series isn’t particularly new but it’s fun, and I love the mental picture of the werewolves rearing back to slobber all over their favorite two-leggers. As a southern girl, I kind of miss the atmosphere of Hecate Hall, but the stately and oh so mysterious Thorne Abbey has its own appeal. If you haven’t read the first book, Hex Hall, definitely give it a read first, out in both paperback and e-book. If you’ve read it but not in the year since it came out, no worries- Sophie gives us the perfect amount of reminders through the beginning narration, always a tough thing to balance with the new directions. All in all, a fun and entertaining read, and a recommended one- I’m already impatient for the third one, and very curious if this is going to be a trilogy or an ongoing series. And exciting news- Demonglass just debuted at No. 5 on the NYT Bestsellers List! So congratulate Rachel Hawkins by going to grab your own copy of a fun and exciting read.