Hexbound by Chloe Neill

HexboundA review by Elyse Taylor

Picture Harry Potter. No wait, the school is a normal school; it’s just some of the students who do magic. Um, so picture Monster High. Hang on, that isn’t right either; the monsters are outside… You get the point though; feels familiar, but is not quite the same as anything else… but also is. Yes, I am slightly confused.  Hexbound is the second book in the Dark Elite series and finds new Junior Adept Lily struggling to understand her new society; control her strange new power of Firespell; discover her parents mysterious secret; balance fighting evil at night with school during the day; and get a werewolf to ask her on a date. Face it: the girl’s got her hands full. Even without an über creepy other-side-of-the-secret-magic-war stalker… who’s also cute.

The basic premise is simple: teenagers can do magic, but they lose it when they grow up unless they steal it. These people call themselves the Dark Elite, but are known to the good guys as ‘reavers’ (No, not like in Serenity – much tamer). So teenagers are protecting the world from the selfish magic sucking of the reavers and other not so nice members of the Community (magical creatures and the like), while the adults sit back doing nothing. Even the older Adepts, known as the ‘Varsity’ Adepts, are painted as inept and arrogant. Result: recommended reading age 13 – 16/17.

The book contains a standard cast of mythical creatures: vampires, werewolves, magicians, but also introduces the concept of genetic engineering to the mix with some messed-up, scientifically created sewer-dwelling mutants found by the heroes (these creatures provide the catalyst for the rather tame final fight of the book). Most of the book is pretty tame; even the parental ‘intrigue’ couldn’t really stir up much interest for me personally – although to be fair, it will probably inspire more passion in the oppressed masses; a.k.a. teens.

As heroes go, Lily is average. She isn’t bad and isn’t great; she has parent problems, school problems and bully problems. I guess she’s supposed to be a little like Bella in Twilight: a typical, two dimensional cut-out of a teenage girl so you can slip her on like your favourite dress and feel all special and hero-y.

Hexbound is not so complex that you couldn’t pick it up and start reading the series from the second book, but it’s always best to start at the beginning… (If you’re interested, the first book in the series is Firespell).

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 5, September 2011.  This blog has been pre-dated to reflect the date of original publication.