Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
There was a book on sale about a month ago. It’s a horror novel that looked really interesting. It looked somehow fantastical yet grounded. Where all authors seem to be following the footsteps of the likes of Stephen King trying to replicate his style, this smaller Dutch author I never heard of before, is really trying to try something new. And I had to give it a try. So here is my review of Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.
So what is it about? First, this tale has very different setting than most modern horror novels. It’s set in the cursed town of Black Springs. Those who live in it are trapped there forever. If they leave town for too long, they commit suicide and the town itself is haunted by the ghost of a witch. And despite being the cause of the curse, she is of little threat most of the time. She roams around town or just appears in random spots and just stands there motionless for hours. And the people of town have learned that as long as she is left alone, all is fine. If she appears in the guest bedroom, then don’t go in there. If she appears in aisle seven of the grocery store, the employees will set up a display in front of her, so customers won’t have to look at her. This creepy undead witch has become a normal part of life everyone deals with. And if you don’t mess with the witch, all is fine.
And the story follows the Grant family. But mostly focuses on Steve and his son Tyler. Steve works for Hex. It is the special task force in town. He has the job of alerting the general public of where the witch is, making sure her patterns don’t change, making sure no one messes with her, and keeping outsiders out. The last thing Hex wants is to have more outsiders moving in and becoming cursed, so Hex tries to cover up all the stories about the witch. They have given up hope of getting help from outsiders, believing their interference would only spread the curse and make things worse.
His son, Tyler believes the opposite. He is a teen who wants nothing more than to escape this town. He wants to do something with his life and just get away from this witch. And he and his friends have found a way to get videos onto the internet and intend to show the world the witch. They hope experts can come in from outside town and break the curse. But unfortunately, this plan goes wrong, leading to a real mess.
Now onto the good and bad? Let’s start with the good. The world here is great. The fact that this witch is just always around adds to this strange tone. She’s not scary because she’s part of the scenery so much. But when she moves, when she turns her head, open her eyes, or just casually walk toward someone it is scary because she’s not supposed to stray from her pattern. She supposed to pay no attention to the citizens. So when she breaks the rules, it has this otherworldly creep factor. And it’s done so well. The deaths too are impactful. They are not that gruesome, but are gut punches and linger throughout the book. The suspense mounts up to a very dark finale. And as things get more grim, it becomes unsettling. It can get really under your skin. So the horror is done very well and the characters are likable.
The bad? This has a very dark ending. Which is a shame, because during the first half of the book it all seemed so hopeful. But it’s an awful, horrible ending for everyone in some way. This ending will not for everyone. Also, I thought it was a shame that the other family members did not get much time or character development. Jocyline (Steve's wife) has a tiny arc and Matt (Steve's other son) is just there. Family members suspect he may be gay, but that is all that there is to him. I wonder why he is even there. If he was removed from the story, it would change nothing.
Overall, this was a fantastic horror novel. I was really impressed. I am going to look into this author’s other work. This is great. And despite the bummer ending, I think this is really worth the read if you're a horror lover. So I recommend this. So If you’re into this sort of stuff, go check this out.
5 smoothies out of Five
Overall Rating: A Great Yet Bleak Tale About A Cursed Town.