Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me an early copy of Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt in exchange for a review.
The town of Black Spring is like no other; it has a secret that must be kept confined amongst its community. The secret is Katherine Van Wyler – The Black Rock Witch, a 350 year old witch, bound in chains, who cannot see or speak as her eyes and mouth have been stitched shut. Despite her morbid appearance, she wanders harmlessly, lurking from one place to another usually in a repetitive cycle as if stuck in some warp. Residents log her movements on HEXapp, a tracking app created by the HEX team who oversee her movements and are on standby to prevent any trouble as there is a history of strange events occurring when Katherine is intimidated. The community have settled into choosing a quiet life by accepting the witch and leaving her to do what she does.
This is until a small group of friends take it upon themselves to carry out some experiments in the name of science. Hoping to catch some genuine evidence of phenomenon footage to forward to National Geographic.
However one member of the group has a personal grudge and wants to take things much further, where the peace of Black Spring will be broken.
I was slightly apprehensive starting HEX as I loved horror in my teens, Stephen King in particular. Unfortunately now the horror market is flooded with lacklustre plots and forgettable endings (if I even get that far.) A book or film full of blood and guts does not remotely interest me. It’s about raising the psychological fear, messing with the mind and keeping it elevated and alert, the fear is in the waiting, the not knowing, the thing you see in the corner of your eye or make out in the shadows in the dark, you know its ok and probably nothing but what if it isn’t, what if it is something evil, what if its there to make your worst nightmares a reality, what if this time its coming to slit your throat. If a horror book has not made me feel uncomfortable on some level, it has failed.
The Black Spring community have become comfortable with something terrifying creeping around the neighbourhood. Normality is waking up to it standing by the side of the bed. Fear is gone, become a joke, replaced by a chained up old witch who cannot see or speak. Yet as uncanny as it maybe Thomas Olde Heuvelt manages to make the reader feel like we are all part of the safe community, comfortable with this lurking unknown presence. Some feel she needs nurture, befriending her and offering her gifts and at times I myself felt some strange sincerity. However the group of young teenage boys are curious, they don’t want restrictions, they want to be brave, maybe become famous on youTube. This younger generation are no different to ours knowing when it comes to computers they are more than a few steps ahead of the game.
HEX does not fail to deliver. This is a creepy book with intriguing characters and a disturbing plot that draws you in and holds you lingering in the fear of not knowing…
Prepare for a sleepless night.
“We killed her children, we hung her, we sewed her fucking eyes shut. Who wouldn’t be pissed? And jeez, why am I saying “we”? Paranoia. Maybe I’m losing it. Things are falling apart. Reality check: HER EYES MUST NEVER BE OPENED.” (Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Location 2412, HEX, 2016)