Firespell by Chloe Neill

Even though Lily Parker never thought she'd be spending her junior year anywhere except in Sagamore, NY, here she is - bag in hand, on the doorsteps of Chicago's most exclusive girls' boarding school St. Sophia's, while her parents spend the next two years on sabbatical in Germany. Not expecting to fit in with any of her trust-fund-baby classmates, Lily resigns herself to two years of torture until she finds an unexpected friend in the quirky Scout. Vastly different from all of Lily's Ivy League bound or spoiled rich girl classmates, Scout has a witty sense of humor and the two become instant friends. But Lily will soon discover that Scout's dark humor isn't the only thing that separates her from the other girls - it's her late night forays into the underbelly of St. Sohpia's that have Lily curious about and anxious for her friend's safety.

Firespell surprised me on so many levels. I don't know what exactly I was expecting from Chloe Neill's first foray into the YA genre, but Lily and Scout's constant stream of snarky commentary and firm friendship instantly struck a chord with me. I loved how their exchanges, while always funny, always managed to also convey a reminder of the dark and evil things Scout is trying to defeat.
"I'll have to keep an eye on you," she said as we reentered the main building and headed across the labyrinth, "in case anything happens."

"In case I get attacked by a Reaper, or in case I suddenly develop the ability to summon unicorns?" My voice was toast-dry.

"Oh, please," Scout said. "Don't take that tone with me. You know you'd love to have a minion. Someone at your beck and call. Someone to do your bidding. How many times have you said to yourself, 'Self, I need a unicorn to run errands and such'?"

"Not that often till lately, to be real honest," I said, but managed a small smile.

"Yeah, well, welcome to the jungle," she said again, but this time, darkly.
Their relationship reminded me of the first few weeks of my own freshman year at college in the dorms, where lasting friendships were instantly created - albeit lacking the whole magical spellcaster, demons, and werewolf thing. That said, I too found Firespell to be a little slow going from the outset. I mean, come on, you know from the get-go that something shady has to going down at St. Sohpia's School for Privileged Girls. There's the creepy headmistress, prone to pop out of secret passageways, multiple dark and scary underground passageways and a roomie sneaking out during middle of the night. It's the perfect setup for some major reveals, so once the story gets going, it really takes off. About half-way through the novel Lily begins to uncover reason for Scout's secret comings and goings and even gets herself a glimpse of the magical power-corrupted Reapers. 

If this is the type of snarky and witty dialogue I can expect from all of Chloe Neill's books, then I'm more than ready to track down her Chicagoland Vampires books right now. Anybody know if this is the case? I sure hope so, because Firespell was a pleasant surprise, full of twists and sarcastic teens fighting evil. At the very least, I'll be sure to pick up the next Dark Elite novel, Hexbound.

series reading order
~ Firespell
~ Hexbound (January 2011)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Book Rat review 
Dark Faerie Tales review
The O.W.L. review
Parajunkee's View review
Pure Imagination review
Wondrous Reads review

book source: giveaway from Flipping Pages for All Ages

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