Book Reviews, Misc

Book Review: HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

***This book was read for my own enjoyment

Heuvelt’s HEX is a brilliant tale of the dark emotions that rule men’s hearts, and the devastation those emotions can wreak upon society. Black Springs is a town with a secret, a conspiracy so entrenched and so horrific that Outsiders are dissuaded from moving into the quaint mountain town. Black Springs is home to Katherine van Wyler, the Black Rock Witch.

In the late 1600’s, Katherine was accused of witchcraft and executed. Since then, she has ghosted the town of Black Springs, once New Beek, a colonial Dutch settlement. To hear her is to be driven mad, compelled to suicide. Lost to the ashes of time, some brave folk managed to sew her eyes and mouth shut, leaving her to follow her timeless path around the lands.

She appears and disappears, sometimes standing in one location for days. Pragmatic townfolk cover her with false pipe organs, or hollow Easter Bunnies, and never, ever get close enough to hear her soft, sibilant whispers. Westpoint was established to keep the secret contained. Later, the task passed to HEX, loosely supervised by the Point.

There was a time when the curious wanted to communicate with Katherine. This failed and the Emergency Decrees forbade further attempts to interact with Katherine in any way. She is not spoken of to Outsiders. Penalties for disobeying the Decrees can be swift and harsh, even today.

Enter Tyler Grant and friends. They push the boundaries of what the Decrees allow, skirting the edge of the acceptable. Until the day they go too far.

HEX looks to the darkness in society, to how we shape our deepest fears, and so have the means to free ourselves from them. Too bad most people never realise this. We fear too deeply that which is unknown. Atrocity was visited upon Katherine, when colonists feared ‘the work of the devil’. She was forced to make a terrible choice, then tortured, killed, and left a wretched trapped spirit. For three hundred plus years, the Black Rock Witch has been feared and shunned. She reflected back her own intense despair, leading others to kill themselves as she herself was forced to do.

Katherine’s ‘retaliations’ against assault to her personage seem less truly malicious attack, and often psychic survival mechanisms. When a modern day man opens her eyes and mouth, inoculated against her despair by his own that runs just as deep, the unexpected happens. Yet that doesn’t stop the fully expected from playing out as well.

Katherine, truth be told, she never scared me. My heart cried for her on so many levels. I wanted to protect her, especially after Jaydon decided to abuse the witch, regardless of the consequences of those actions to others. No, what terrified me were the townspeople gripped by irrationality, making atrocious decisions that prove we really haven’t evolved at all. It’s the 21st century, but it may as well have been the 17th instead. Terror brings out the truly nasty in people. It exposes prejudice and hatred. Bloodlust. I found I wasn’t at all disappointed with the ending of the book. Call me callous or cynical, but sometimes, that’s what is necessary. I really want to know how the orgnal Dutch translation plays out!

This book was written by a Dutch author, originally in that language. I love getting translated books whose first language wasn’t English because they are fascinating glimpses into how another culture thinks. Most Americans would not be so bláse about a witch chillin’ in the corner of the communal room. Apparently, the Dutch are highly pragmatic regarding such things. They feared Katherine, but so long as she seemed ‘tame’, they didn’t freak out. Too much. It was when her patterns changed that all hell broke loose.

????? I can’t recommend this book enough!

2 thoughts on “Book Review: HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

  1. Oh wow this looks seriously dark and creepy! LOVE. I don’t read nearly enough witchy books and I really do love them…also translated books are GREAT because you’re right about the culture coming through and it’s excellent to fill our minds with different perspectives!

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