Author: Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Translator: Nancy Forest-Flier
Source: Personal copy (Barnes & Noble)
In the beautiful town of Black Spring, a seventeenth-century witch roams. Her eyes and mouth have been sewn shut, and she walks the streets of Black Spring, entering homes at will, where she sometimes stays for days at a time just standing in the living room or a bedroom with her thread-bound eyes and mouth. For the people of Black Spring, she is a part of their daily lives. They know that her eyes must never be opened – the consequences would be beyond comprehension.
The Black Spring elders have basically quarintined the town. They monitor outsiders and the Black Rock Witch by using a surveillance system with the accronym HEX. It is essential that the Witch remain the business – and the burden – of Black Spring. Once you become an official Black Spring resident, you can never leave. The Witch and the power she has over Black Spring makes it impossible to travel far or to travel for long before being forced back.
A group of the town's teenagers are fed up with the lockdown and decide to take matters into their own hands. Violating the town's strict regulations, the boys wish to go viral with the haunting. Their actions send the town spraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past.
I thought Hex was fantastic. I was in the mood for a creepy read and this fit the bill. There were a few times I decided I couldn't read this book while feeding my newborn at 2am in the dark by myself. Certain things really give me the creeps – the thought of this witch just appearing and standing in your home, her whispering something and the stitches on her mouth pulling on her old dead looking flesh. The book was deeply unsettling. I feel this way about Stephen King as well. It's not gore and blood and guts on every page (although there was some gore for sure), but rather an overall chilling quality to the story. I loved it.
The setting is great. I read the Acknowlegements in the back of the book and found out that Thomas Olde Heuvelt is actually a Dutch author and when working on the English translation of this book he took the opportunity to change a few things. He reset the story to the Hudson River Valley, and changed the ending a bit. So if you're Dutch, please drop me an email and tell me the original ending, okay? Anyway, the setting and set-up of the town and the people living there captured small town New England (I know the Hudson River Valley is in NY and not technically New England). It gave it a Salem witch trial feel that worked beautifully with the story.
The chapters are told from alternate perspectives, each having a distinct feeling and voice. Wonderful writing. If you're looking for a spooky read, look no further. And in case you feel like you missed the boat because Halloween is past (which is nuts because it's always a good time for something creepy!) you'll be happy to know much of the story takes place in November! So now is the perfect time!
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