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.

After I had begun this novel, I misjudged this book as ‘slow-paced’. This book is slow, but its deliberate and patient pacing was, in hindsight, fantastic storytelling. Black Spring is presented as an idyllic town with people of all ages and a few dysfunctional personalities. The townspeople keep things under control with technological devices, surveillance, and strict rules that ensure the safety of the town. An ever-present atmosphere of fear and anticipation blankets the community. Aside from the curse and all that is done to mediate it, all seems well.

There was nothing wrong with the air in Black Spring… at least, nothing that could be proven by analysis.

That is, until an attempt of subversion and investigation at the hands of the town’s teenagers set off a series of events that will propel the town into a climate of horror and terror. This disruption of the peace unmasks the town for what it is: a town built on fear. Bit by bit, whatever held the town together chips away. The thing we call humanity is shed; something sinister begins to take its place.

Though this story explores the extent and power of the curse laid upon Black Spring, it also answers the question – what happens when fear surpasses its toll? Hex is a thorough exploration of fear and its effects on the psyche of an individual and a community. It explores the terrifying effects of fear and how people can build their lives on fear – to love with fear, to protect with fear, and to enact punishment and violence because of fear. And it is scary – not because of the witch with her eyes sewn shut that haunts the town, not because of the increasingly horrifying things that she does as revenge, but because of the insidious effect she had on the townspeople – and you – and that things, no matter how bad, can always get worse.

This is all it takes for people to plunge into insanity: one night alone with themselves and what they fear the most.

Hex is terrifying, pervasive, and unsettling. Seeing the bare, desecrated bones of humanity wearing naught by primal fear and hysteria was a terrifying spectacle. And after reading this book, that’s what the events of Hex almost feel like – a spectacle to be witnessed, the reader powerless to do anything and to believe much else. Perhaps the darkness that Olde Heuvelt writes about is true. After reading Hex, I felt scared to venture into the dark depths of the human psyche. Hex is a terrifying journey into the darkest depths of human nature. I have seen the abyss.

Rating: 3.5/5

Book Information
Book Name: Hex
Author: Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Paperback

(Book content and trigger warnings: body horror, graphic and violent scenes, violence against animals, violence against children, sexual violence, death, murder, torture)

After reading this book, I may revise my aversion to horror. It scared me, but I loved the analysis of fear. Maybe I’ll write a post about it.

  • Do you like horror? If you do, what is it that you like about them?
  • Are you still afraid of the dark? (I’m not afraid to admit that I am.) Why do you think people are afraid of the dark?
  • Would you be interested in reading this book? If so, why?

29 thoughts on “Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

  1. I’m absolutely terrified of horror, especially body horror since i have a really low tolerace for pain. I am interested but I’m definitely worried. Especially about the body horror portion. Great review, the analysis part sounds awesome.

  2. This book sounds super interesting. I’m not a huge fan of horror myself, but I find that horror books usually aren’t too bad? Mostly because I guess I couldn’t quite be scared in the same manner as when I see visual horror in pictures and movies, but your description of the book makes it very enticing.
    Lovely review as always, CW. :D

  3. I’m not a fan of any kind of horror, in books or in movies, and I am quite a big wuss as well. You’re not the only one scaring yourself at night in the dark, haha, if that makes you feel any better. I don’t know if I will ever pick up this book because of all the violence, and it might kind of freak me out as well, but I’m glad to know it’s not, just a horror book, but a book talking about fear, and its effects. I have to admit that part sounds quite interesting, and if you ever come to write a blog post about it, I’d love to read it :) Great review!

    • Hi Marie!

      Haha it does make me feel better! I’ve tried to find ways to stop myself from thinking scary thoughts in the dark, but I’ve found the best method is to just turn on all the lights. XD

      It is pretty violent, especially towards the end, and I don’t think it’s for the faint of heart. The imagery is very graphic, and it made me feel queasy.

      I’m writing the post now, so I’ll post it after the weekend!! ^_^ Thanks Marie! <3

  4. Lately I have found myself wanting to read more in the way of horror/suspense. Being on the other side of the planet, for me, I think it has something to do with the darker evenings.

    I can deal with horror in books in a way that I can’t on screen. I guess maybe my brain protects me from the worst of it? I don’t know. I really like what you wrote about the truly scary part of the book being the human element. I think it’s really clever when authors use the paranormal to make us view ourselves in a more brutal light. It is totally different, and not even on the horror genre, but what you were saying about people really reminds me of the Vivian Vs the Apocalypse duology. It’s about this religious cult who take over America with a prediction of the end of the world (which they then appear to make ‘come true’). Everything disintegrates in this really scary way, especially in the second book. As I was reading it and looking at the news, it all felt a little too plausible.

    • Hi Lydia!

      I hear you. This book was my lunchtime read, so it was always broad daylight with lots of people around. I think I finished it in the dead of the night and I hid under my covers after. Eughhhh. (But a good eughhh?)

      I like it too. I’d be more interested in reading more horror like this, one that sheds light on ‘human nature’, but maybe like… once a year. XD

      I’ve never heard of that, but that sounds intense. I’ve added it to my tbr – aside from The Handmaid’s Tale, I haven’t read any dystopians with religious themes, so I am interested. (The scarier the dystopia, the better!)

      • It is scary! It’s a bit of a strange series. The second book is much much stronger than the first. She deviates from a lot of the more typical YA themes she uses in the first book to dive into the full-scale horror of the thing.

        I am totally adding this book to my TBR. I want some scary! If I have nightmares I will totally be blaming you. I am exactly the same with imagining horrors in my house. Sometimes when I am home by myself and I start freaking myself out I keep waking the dog up to protect me. Not that he would. If a murderer broke in my dog’s main concern would be whether or not he brought food with him.

  5. I was scared last week after my mother asked me to watch Oculus, a horror movie. Actually, this book sounds like the movie The Village. i would mind reading it. I have read IT and it scared me.

    • Hi Jessica!
      Eughhhh I saw the movie poster for Oculus (I looked it up) and was like NOPE NOPE. I can’t handle that supernatural imagery. Dx
      Give it a go, I say! It’s a great book and the analysis on human nature is excellent. :)

  6. Yikes! This certainly isn’t up my alley, but it sounds fascinating. I have so much respect for people who are capable of both reading and enjoying these sorts of things. They sound brilliant– but I can’t get past anything remotely scary. In fact, I’m known for puking at even the slightest bodily harm described in books. Graphic? I’ll pass.
    Great review!

    • Hey Jackie!

      Haha, me too! Tbh, there were parts in this book I had difficulty stomaching. It disturbed me on a level, but I read it in broad daylight which helped a lot!
      If that’s the case, give it a miss. It’s an exceptional book, but your health comes first. :)

      Thank you so much! <3

  7. Woah this book sounds creepily good and atmospheric! I love how it delves into the darkest depths of human nature. I do like a bit of horror every now and then although I do have nightmares and yeah, I’m still afraid of the dark lol. Wonderful review cw!

  8. This book sounds really interesting!! Definitely adding to my TBR :-) im not afraid of the dark – I don’t think people are afraid of the dark, per se, but rather what lies behind the dark… there could be anything there and you would never know! I do like horror, but probably because it doesn’t bother me in the sense that I’m normally not really scared afterward. There are exceptions and that’s when I like the horror even more, because it managed to freak me out!

    • Hi Lauren!
      Thinking about it, you’re right. What lies beyond the dark terrifies me, rather than the absence of light.
      Oh, I wish I had your guts! I just don’t have any at all. I’m such a wuss. XD
      I hope you enjoy this book if you choose to read it!

      • I used to be really scared of horrors etc. and then I think it just got to the point where I decided that I knew none of it real… so there is only so much psychological imprint it can have!! I will admit though, The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich scared me! I left the lights on nearly all night and everything! :-P

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