Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
A Recommended Book of the Month
Over the years, I have read stories about haunted houses and cursed people, but it is very rare that I have read a book about a cursed town and a curse is exactly what the town of Black Spring has. For over 350 years the people of Black Spring have been hiding a dark secret from the world, is it time for that secret to be revealed?
Hex pulls you into its story quite serenely, whilst adding chills to the proceedings as the book slowly reveals the unfortunate events that resulted in the death of Katherine van Wyler, accused of witchcraft and put to death because of it. Katherine cursed the residents of Black Spring in a number of ways, one being that she wanders through the town to her own schedule and can appear in people's homes. She is not an apparition, rather as solid as a human being. Katherine's appearance is haunting, with her eyes and mouth sewn closed to prevent greater devastation of madness and death.
The book is set in the present day, which means that not only does the town have to keep Katherine hidden from outsiders, they also need to enforce the rules that keep the town safe. If we thought that we lived in a surveillance state in the UK, reading Hex has shown me that it has nothing on Black Spring, with 24/7 surveillance from cameras and the people who live there, which keeps an eye on where Katherine wanders, as well as keeping the citizens in check. This team monitors the town's computer use and deals with troublemakers that try and expose the town. There is also an app that people use to report sightings of Katherine. With all of these safety measures in place the town has led itself into a false sense of security.
The book has a number of prominent characters, but we are first introduced to the Grant family and most of the events that happen in the book are instigated by them. Steve and Jocelyn moved to Black Spring years ago, never knowing that they would never be able to move to another town again. They have had to make some tough choices as to whether to have children or not, knowing that they are effectively stunting the choices their children will be able to take. Their children Tyler and Matt seem to be well adjusted, but Tyler is now at an age where he is thinking about his future, he is still young and idealistic enough to believe that the curse can be broken so that he can lead a normal life. There are strong themes throughout Hex regarding pushing boundaries, rebellion, being an individual rather than part of the crowd. This is seen time and again with the members of the Grant family.
The supernatural elements in this novel are haunting, the scares and horrors are unexpected, but the underlying theme for me is the evil hidden within humanity. Katherine’s backstory is tragic and her curse is bound in revenge, but is she in control of this or does the curse go further into the town’s psyche? The book is split into two parts, the first part builds on the suspense slowly giving us information on how the town and the curse works. We get to meet a number of seemingly ordinary folk, that hide and protect one another's secrets in the name of keeping Black Spring safe. Part two, on the other hand, is not a complete departure of what came before but has a far larger emotional impact especially once the set-up pays off. The second part of the book is especially hard-hitting and adrenaline packed when it shows the full depravity of mob rule and outrage, where there are always people looking to blame someone else for the bad things that are happening, but will always act first and hope that there will be answers later.
I do not believe that there has been anything lost in the translation by Nancy Forest-Flier from the Dutch original. Olde Heuvelt has written a compelling story rich in imagination and history which is undeniably haunting. Hex is truly absorbing with an easy style of writing that leads you into the world of Black Spring and keeps you locked into the horrifying events as they unfold.
This Hex book review was written by Michelle Herbert
Have you read Hex?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Hex reader reviews
Emily from Belgium
First of all, I read the book in the source language, so the names of the places and the characters are slightly different (in the original it all plays out in a Dutch town). Anyway, I doubt there is a lot of difference between the original and the translation aside from the names so I am dropping a review here. I read the book through the entire night, finishing at 6 am in the morning. Why? Because first of all I was too afraid to put the book down and go to sleep (a very livid imagination I'm afraid) and I desperately wanted to know how it ended. At first it was hard to get into the book, but that is because Thomas uses a lot of distinct Dutch phrases and words and I am Flemish. After a couple of chapters I got used to his style of writing and it kept growing to a climax. I found the end to be extremely satisfying, even though I also secretly want to know what happens after. All in all, if you like suspense and the paranormal, this book is for you.
8.5/10 from 2 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Zinzi December has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit, and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her l...
It is the children who see - and feel - what makes the town so horribly different. In the storm drains and sewers "It" lurks, taking the shape of every nightmare,...
Residue follows 17-year-old Jack Bishop after his father is abducted and a monster is let loose in his small town. As he looks for his father, he begins to notice that he c...
A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell. She a...
In the wake of their Aunt Amity’s suicide, Scott and Madeline Madden are summoned to Caveat, the eerie, decaying mansion in the Hollywood hills in which they were rai...
Ten years ago, Stefan Korsak's younger brother was kidnapped. Not a day has passed that Stefan hasn't thought about him. As a rising figure in the Russian mafia, he...
Dean Vincent Carter
They're all dead now. I am the last one. Dr Morrow can't identify the 'thing' he found living in the lake but he knows it's dangerous ...then it goes mi...
The Silent End
In a mist-covered town in the Pacific Northwest three teenagers find themselves pitted against an unearthly menace that dwells beneath the foundations of their high school....
Sweet Sixteen and never been... killed. Leslie Burrows was born the same day as her grandmother, and each year they have two celebration parties with her grandmother's ...
In the Devil's Name
Some of the locals in Ballantrae still tell tales about haunted Bennane Head, the cliffs just up the coast where mythical mass murderer and cannibal Sawney Beane is said to...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spe...
Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay, never leaves. Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the ...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer's legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the was...
A Tale of Time City
Diana Wynne Jones
When Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to be staying in the countryside. Instead, she is whisked away to Time City – a place that exists outside ti...
The Guns of Empire
As the roar of the guns subsides and the smoke of battle clears, the country of Vordan is offered a fragile peace... After their shattering defeats at the hands of brillian...
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth....
Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasu...
For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the four...
The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures...