Hex Education
Grade : B-

Are you ready to get witchy? Hex Education is a fun, snarky, fast-moving slice of fantasy fiction featuring one winning heroine and some fun twists on witch-related tropes. The leads are quite imperfect and their journey to self-acceptance is quite the interesting ride, but several crucial building blocks are missing from the narrative.

Alicia, Katrina, and Sarah Nelson formed a coven when they attended North Valley University. They were all living in a dorm called Hawthorne Hall during their college years. Each of them is looking for something – Sarah wants adoration, Alicia wants to be famous, Katrina wants some form of power. They mutually discover their magical abilities and begin to hone them, but unfortunately, their shared practicing of magic leads to them accidentally burning down Hawthorne Hall, injuring and maiming several of their fellow students. The cause of the fire was never discovered, but the coven disbanded and all three young women went their separate ways, finishing their education at different colleges.

Sarah is now a realtor, wife to a surgeon named Travis (whose sister, Nancy, was hurt in the fire) and a mom to teenage fraternal twins. She’s never lost her grip on her magic – it’s just much milder in form now, though she does have a cat familiar named Kitty Purry who talks to her. Everything changes when she’s invited to a benefit ball marking the twentieth anniversary of the fire and is brought back into contact with Katrina and Alicia. Alicia – now better known as pop star Abracadabra Alicia – has several serval cats – and Katrina – now the CEO of a startup medical device company called Obsidian, which creates surgical knives among other implements – notice increases in their magical ability when they’re together. And since the fire is now under investigation by a perky journalist named Madisyn Parks, they might be in for a whole world of trouble. Can Sarah maintain her freedom and that of her family without the truth coming out? Or will all three women wind up in jail for their past sins?

This is a fun trip about a good woman who absolutely cannot resist trying to cheat on the side of righteousness sometimes. Hex Education doesn’t feature mentoring, even the self-educational kind, but it does show a woman coming to realize that maybe scaring off the raccoons with her abilities is a better idea than trying to rule the world with them. I liked average, well-meaning suburban mom Sarah.

And yet I felt like two key pieces of the narrative was missing – a strong sense of unity between the three women, and a good sense of who Alicia and Katrina are. Indeed, Alicia and Katrina only exist through Sarah’s eyes in the book – they get no PoV chapters, so everything that happened and is happening to them is reflected through the spectrum Sarah gives us. There are long stretches of prose spent on Sarah doing various bougie wife activities with a magic twist, and they really should have been spent on developing Alicia and Katrina as people. The book’s late-page attempt at emotion – and it’s I-could-see-it-from-miles-away villain reveal – don’t work.

As I said, the villain here is pretty obvious, and perhaps that’s why Kilmer keeps things going through Sarah’s eyes. But that’s why I can’t go higher than a B minus for Hex Education. It’s still a good book, but not a perfect journey.

Reviewed by Lisa Fernandes

Grade: B-

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : September 21, 2023

Publication Date: 09/2023

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Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
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