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.
Book Name: Hex
Author: Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
(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?