Author: Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Format: Paperback Received from publisher for review
Blurb: Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay, never leaves.
Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth-century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children's beds for nights on end. So accustomed to her have the townsfolk become that they often forget she's there. Or what a threat she poses. Because if the stitches are ever cut open, the story goes, the whole town will die.
The curse must not be allowed to spread. The elders of Black Spring have used high-tech surveillance to quarantine the town. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town's teenagers decide to break the strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into a dark nightmare.
This book was horrifying and unsettling. And not what I expected. Hex is not a comfortable read - it isn't to be. There are some true horrors in this book and the worst parts are not the supernatural frights of the witch but the depths of cruelty and inhumanity that the humans themselves go to.
It took me a while to get into this book, there was even a stage towards the beginning where I thought I might not finish it. As well written as it is and as realistic as the characters were it isn't the sort of book that I usually find myself reading. But there comes a point where you become completely absorbed. From about halfway through onwards I could not stop reading. I grew to care about certain characters but it was the characters I disliked that kept me reading. Them and the witch - who by the way I did actually like a bit.
There were points at which I found myself skip-reading and had to go back and re-read those sections but for the most part there was a kind of car-crash-horror to the actions of the characters and I had to keep reading to see what they would do next. And they never failed to surprise me - in a completely horrific sort of way. I wouldn't say this was an enjoyable read or that any of the characters were especially likable but it was compelling.
The witch herself, was the best character in the book (albeit a character without any lines) and I would have liked to know what happened to her after the events of this book. The ending was in many ways unresolved. For example it ends with a knock on the door and no knowledge on the readers part as to who is there - any of the options can only be guessed at and whilst I may hold my own theory it can never be proven. Which is the point really, but as many people probably know I am not a huge fan of unresolved endings - it gives me way too much anxiety.
I had expected to be scared by Hex and whilst there were a couple of mild scares, for the most part I wasn't scared so much as disgusted and upset by the behaviour of the humans. I suppose we all like to think that under these circumstances we'd do the right thing, but its so easy to lose sight of that when you're as scared as these characters were. If anything about this book keeps me up at night - it'll be that.
Overall, as I said I can't say I enjoyed this book because I don't think I was meant to but I can say it was compelling and real in an odd sort of way and quite well written. I hadn't expected this book, I was completely unprepared and I would be curious to re-read it later on to see if there were any details I missed.