When Isobel Brannick’s mother gives her her first solo assignment, Izzy can’t help feeling a bit insulted: After all, she’s a BRANNICK. As the youngest in a long line of monster hunters, she’s had training, training and more training, and she’s capable of dealing with stuff WAY MORE HARDCORE than a measly haunted high school. Sure, she recently almost got drained by a vampire, but there TOTALLY were extenuating circumstances! It wasn’t HER fault that he read her mind and distracted her by talking about the mysterious disappearance of her older sister! That would have thrown anyone off guard! It’s SO UNFAIR for one teeny mistake to relegate her to the “training wheels” of monster hunting.

But, if Izzy is stubborn, her mother is immovable. So they head off to Ideal, Mississippi, where Izzy is forced to do something more difficult than anything she’s ever done: enroll in the local high school and BLEND.

School Spirits begins like all of Rachel Hawkins’ other books begin: with a bang. As in the Hex Hall series, she reels you in with action and humor—The vampire, who was going by the name of Pascal, but was probably really a Brad or a Jason, twisted underneath me, but I was firmly seated—then draws back, throws in just enough exposition to get you situated, AND OFF SHE GOES! It’s hugely fun, and I’m already dying for the next book in the series.

THINGS TO LOVE, SOME OF THEM SPOILER-Y:

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  • Fans of Supernatural will approve of the fact that the Brannicks do research—well, actually, they outsource it—to find new cases, and that they get just as frustrated as the Winchesters when regular people dabble in paranormal research: I didn’t know who invented Ouija boards, but whoever that guy was, he was a jerk. This place already had one dangerous spirit floating around; it didn’t need something else called forth from a Ouija board.

    Hex Hall

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  • Fans of Buffy will love that Izzy’s relationship with her mother is complex and believable, that she almost immediately aligns herself with the school outcasts (who are all awesome), and that Hawkins turns the usual P.E. dodge-ball scene

    on its head when Izzy gets ticked off and accidentally dislocates a bully’s shoulder.

  • Speaking of P.E., in order to help Izzy pass as a normal teenager, her mother buys a whole ton of television boxed sets of CW-esque shows. Understandably, Izzy finds them all totally addicting, but also understandably, not remotely helpful in understanding the life of the average American teenager: ...in all the TV shows Mom had gotten me, people usually just spent P.E. talking under the bleachers, or meeting up with their secret boyfriends. (Clearly her mother leaned more towards Gossip Girl than Freaks and Geeks, eh?)

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  • More fun for Buffy fans: TORIN. Like Izzy and her mother, Torin was briefly introduced in Spell Bound. He’s a British warlock who’s been trapped in a mirror for the last 400 years, and he spends his time being snarky and mostly unhelpful, yet he’s hugely charismatic and likable. All that combined with his love for crappy soap operas will make him irresistible to anyone with a soft spot for Spike.

Highly recommended to fans of Hawkins’ other books, obviously, but also to fans of Meg Cabot’s Mediator books, and to anyone looking for a refreshingly angst-free paranormal. TWO THUMBS WAY UP. 

If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while re-watching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.