I was looking for something incredibly creepy for October; a true Halloween read. Enter, Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. I read about this book in several different Buzzfeed articles about books that are ACTUALLY scary. Usually I take the word of Buzzfeed, so I went out to Chapters and picked myself up a copy.
Now, while I wouldn’t call this book truly horrifying, there was something about it that was completely unsettling.
The novel opens with the introduction of a small town called Black Spring. Seemingly picturesque, the town has a dark secret. In the 17th century, a woman, nicknamed the Black Rock Witch, had her eyes and mouth-sewn shut and was killed for her crimes. Now a fixture of the town, she walks the streets and enters homes at will and, using high tech surveillance, the elders of Black Spring have kept her contained and have continuously ensured that her mouth and eyes are never opened. However, when a group of the town’s teenagers, frustrated with the regulations, decide to film the haunting, the town reverts back to medieval practices of the past and Black Rock will never be the same.
The first thing I would love to mention when discussing Hex was the originality of the text. Heuvelt chose to unravel his narrative in such an original way. I loved how he was able to combine the paranormal with the modern and make something completely supernatural seem like the norm, right down to the witch tracker app and the online forums. It added a layer to the text that I usually find any novel with a supernatural element is often missing. Believability.
I also loved how Heuvelt marched to the beat of his own drum in regards to plot points and character storylines. There was truly no rhyme or reason to how the story was rolled out or how characters were removed from the text. I loved feeling as if no one was safe and that there was truly no predictability to the text. I also loved the development of the characters are they all found themselves questioning their own humanity as the witch hysteria rose in the town. It was a very atmospheric look at human nature.
As mentioned, I didn’t find this novel particularly terrifying but it was unsettling. It was downright creepy. Something about the ominous tone and the general vibe made my skin crawl. It sort of had Blair Witch vibe to it, which I really enjoyed.
So as much as I was enjoying the book throughout the beginning, I found it dragging by the time I was reaching the end. Truly, my biggest gripe with this book was the ending. I found it to be completely underwhelming. It was confusing.
Overall, I feel like this a perfect read for Halloween and I think that people who enjoy a bit of unsettling reading will appreciate this book!