I was hesitant to pick up Michelle Krys’ Hexed for a very simple reason: The heroine’s name is Indigo Blackwood. In a book about a teenage witch, that just seemed a little too generic and on the nose for me. But, as the first few pages had promise—lots of snark and sass, and a cheerleader heroine—I gave it a try. Sadly, my first impression ended up winning the day.
First, the good. It’s a perfectly competent, fast-paced, solid read, and I’ll have absolutely no reservations in handing it to all of my paranormal junkies who’re always looking for more, more, more.
Now, the everything else. It’s bland in terms of character development, worldbuilding, and plotting, and ultimately, beyond a few moments of surprisingly gruesome violence, it’s a mostly unmemorable read. It covers the same territory as any number of other YA paranormals—hero/ine comes of age; develops magical powers; learns that s/he is part of secret conflict going back generations; loved ones are put in danger; there are passionate-yet-problematic smoochies with someone already In The Know—and it stops there, quite a few yards shy of anything original.
Indigo is generally either violently angry or violently sad—she sheds approximately as many tears as Jack on Lost—both understandable emotions given her circumstances, but not much fun to read about, ESPECIALLY given that, when you strip away the snark, there’s just not much personality there. What personality IS there isn’t particularly pleasant, especially in regard to her behavior toward her childhood friend, Paige.
For some unfathomable reason—she’s not interested in popularity, she doesn’t appear to have a crush and she doesn’t seem like the type to bang her head against a wall for kicks—Paige wants to be Indigo’s friend. But Indigo doesn’t want to be tainted by Paige’s unpopularity, so she is actively rude and dismissive to her…until she needs her. It’s a completely one-way friendship, with Paige providing company and comfort and Indigo take, take, taking what she wants without reciprocation. That relationship nicely parallels the one Indigo has with her current best friend, Bianca, but as she never picks up on the similarities, she almost comes off as MORE of a selfish jerk. Which is an interesting and unusual trait in a heroine, but without any other personality facets to counterbalance it, a somewhat unpleasant one.
None of the other characters have much going on, either: The bad guys are BAD GUYS; Indigo’s football player boyfriend is clueless and boorish; Bishop is an emotionally wounded hottie who hide his sads under layers of snark and sexual harassment; Bianca is a Desperate Mean Girl. Paige the Nice Nerd, beyond the aforementioned friendship arc, appears to be in the book purely to become a cliffhanger plot point. The smooches have real heat, but beyond pure animal attraction and shared grief, there’s doesn’t seem to be anything solid in the Bishop/Indigo pairing, either.
So. Recommended only to those who can’t get enough high school paranormal romance. For everyone else, try Rachel Hawkins’ Rebel Belle instead: It’s also about a popular high school girl who suddenly gains superpowers and discovers a hidden-in-plain-sight world of danger and magic, but the characters are more well-drawn, the plotting is more interesting, and it’s genuinely hilarious. Like Hexed, it ends on a cliffhanger, but unlike Hexed, I’m actively curious about what’s going to happen next.
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or running the show at her local library, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while rewatching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.