The Sociology of: Hex, Fear, and the Panopticon


A few days ago, I posted a review for a book called Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. It is a psychological horror about Black Spring, a town cursed by the local witch who has her eyes and mouth sewn shut. It is a truly horrifying novel that is unsettling and creepy (and I do advise seeing the trigger warnings I outlined at the bottom of my review), but what I enjoyed was its clever and thorough analysis of fear.

In today’s post, I want to discuss the book Hex and how the narrative intertwines with fear. How is fear socially constructed in the book? What does it mean for an emotion to be socially constructed? I will also be talking about the Panopticon – what is the Panopticon, and how it relates to the story of Black Spring.

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Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt


My sincerest thanks to Hachette New Zealand, for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters your homes at will. She stands next to your bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in so doing send the town spiraling into the dark, medieval practices of the past.

Hex creeped me the heck out.

I don’t like anything horror, especially horror movies. I am the sort of person who, while walking in the dead of night to the kitchen, will think of something scary and then scare myself. I am a big, big wuss. Despite – and surprisingly – I enjoyed Hex very much. I was told that Hex ‘exposes how psychological fear can make a modern society spiral into dark, medieval practices’. And after much reflection, this is a perfect description of the novel in a sentence.

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Book Recs: Introduction to Dystopia


All of you probably know how much I love books with dystopian societies. Last year, I dedicated a whole post to why I love dystopia and why dystopia matters, where I argued that dystopia matters because it is terrifying (and it should be), it draws our attention to important issues, and that it encourages critical thinking and raises awareness.

In the past, I’ve been asked what were some good books that had dystopian societies, especially for people who were not familiar with the genre. So today, I’ll be recommending four books that are, what I regard as, cornerstones (or just really darn good pieces) of dystopian fiction. Read More »

Let’s Talk About: The Diversity ‘Catch-22’ – Misrepresentation vs. No Representation


Recently, Jeann from Happy Indulgence posted a fantastic post, When ‘Diversity’ Isn’t Actually Diverse, and I implore all of you to read it. There has been a great deal of discussion and debate surrounding diversity lately. The intensity of the discussions made waves in the Twitter book blogging community, but I found the discussions necessary and absolutely important.

Something that came up a few times, however, was the precarious situation that authors face when writing diversity. In discussions, comment sections, and Twitter threads, I observed that some people described a ‘catch-22’ when writing diversity. Today, I want to discuss the so-called ‘Catch-22’ that people have described, my note to authors, and emphasize – again – why diversity is important.

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

I adored this book. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is sweet, fluffy, and just downright cute.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is not a plot-driven novel, nor does it have a ‘point’. On the contrary, this book is a slice of the humble and peaceful life of Lara Jean, and the hilarious shambles that follow after her secret love letters are sent to the boys she loved. Yes, it may sound silly – I mean, it’s hardly apocalyptic if your crushes receive love letters that you secretly wrote to them – but it flipped her usual, quiet life upside down and I adored it.

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