Review: HEXHEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Released by Hodder & Stoughton on 17 April 2013
Genres: Horror
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781444793239
Source: Borrowed

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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.

I believe I first heard about this book from the Dutch book scene, and it intrigued me because it’s one of the few Dutch books I know that got translated into English. People called this book creepy, said they couldn’t sleep anymore after finishing and had to sleep with the lights on. I’d been wanting to read a good horror book, even though I am a big pussy, but had been severely disappointed so far. I borrowed my sister’s copy and dove straight into this book – hoping that I would finally have found the one book that would actually creep me out. But, again, I was pretty much disappointed.

HEX follows the inhabitants of a small New York village, as they live alongside the ghost of a woman accused of witchcraft in the 17th century. They have an app where people can find out exactly where Katherine is located and try their best to keep ‘The Witch’ out of sight from ‘Outsiders’. The teenagers of this town are pretty much done with all the secrecy and want Katherine to go viral. But soon they are all reminded why people sewed Katherine’s eyes and mouth shut so long ago. It all sounds incredibly intriguing, right? Well, it did not live up to the expectation at all.

It all sounds incredibly intriguing, right? Well, it did not live up to the expectation at all. From the first page, I already thought this book was not going to be my thing. I honestly just couldn’t get into it at first and put it down a couple of times before even getting through the first chapter. Eventually, I kind of made myself read on, but it did not improve at all. I was waiting for the scary things to happen, but there was nothing, literally nothing that terrified me – nothing that had me sleeping with the lights on. Nothing. At. All.

Characterwise, it was all pretty unmemorable, I can’t even remember some of the characters’ names anymore. We followed a family of four – husband, wife, two sons – a butcher’s wife, who was still known as that even after her abusive husband had died, and a member of the HEX organisation – the one behind the app and all the ‘hiding the witch’ things. And the Witch? She was more like a pet. She came into people’s homes, roamed the streets aimlessly and was basically ignored by the villagers. Spoooooooky. Honestly, the book may have been more interesting had it been from the Witch’s point of view, or something like that, IDK.

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What I also found a bit annoying, was that sometimes the book would be written in past tense, and sometimes there were passages written in present tense. I’m not sure whether it was a mistake in translation or a genuine thing the author came up with, but I was kind of confused and I really wished someone had paid more attention during editing. Maybe the author has a good explanation for it, but honestly, I don’t care enough to look for it.

Above all, I think this book would have worked so much better if it had been a movie. Most horror books would have, I think. For me, images would be scarier than written words in this case, and yeah I kind of would like to see this as a movie. Anyway, if you’re really into horror and would like to try out a book, I’d recommend HEX. You could maybe try out the audiobook, if there is one, that could perhaps work with the suspense. For me, it was a disappointment, and I am even more hesitant to pick up any horror books after this.

My opinion in one gif: