Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
|Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A self-quarantined town, an undead 17th century witch written by an author with the skill to keep us up at night. Scary, shocking and so, so good!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: April 2016|
|Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton|
|External links: Author's website|
Steve and Jocelyn had moved to Black Spring before their boys were born. Now Tyler and Matt are teenagers and none of them could consider living anywhere else. Would this be due to the beautiful surroundings or the closeness of the small town's camaraderie? No, it has more to do with a 17th century witch's curse. The same witch who still moves around the town, spying on the good folk – and the bad - from within their homes. They've come to an understanding with her over the years, but now the young people want to experiment and nothing will be the same again.
Dutch author Thomas Olde Heuvelt wrote his first novel aged 16. Since then he's written five plus some short stories, been awarded the Harland prize for fantasy three times and won the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. As we can imagine, Thomas is a best-selling author in the Netherlands and about to take the world by storm. Having read Hex, I can confirm that the storm starts here.
Thomas has taken an obviously fantastical premise and makes it feel very real. That's the excitement and the thing that drives us behind the sofa with this book. From the moment we meet the witch who has her eyes and mouth sewn up, materialising and de-materialising in people's homes, the chills begin. She seems harmless enough however this is only the start; as we read on Thomas turns the tension up to 11 and we're too hooked to look away.
This is a town of normal people trying to have normal lives under extraordinary circumstances. It's only when a new couple move into the area that the true connotations of residency hit them and the rest of us. It's that that we admire the strength of the town's folk while understanding why some are a little off-beam.
The particular 'some' that stand out are the widow Griselda and her teenage son Jaydon; human blue touch papers just waiting to be ignited while adding to the suspense and chewed fingernails. It's also interesting that it's Griselda with the traditional witch-type name rather than the embroidered-faced tri-centenarian-plus, Katherine. In fact, despite everything we learn about the Katherine-effect on the locality, it's the witch I sided with (up to a certain point anyway) when it comes to a choice between her and Jaydon's mum. Although, where plumping for goodies is concerned, it's Steve and Jocelyn all the way.
The tension may creep up on us gradually but we're soon knee deep in fearful anticipation. Then that left-field explosive ending hits and I was hollowed out by the shock of it. Oh yes, this is definitely one of the scariest books I've read in a long time so I'm not surprised to hear that a big film/TV company is capitalising with a planned series. No matter how good it may be though, I doubt it will be as good as this book; there's not a lot out there that is.
(Thank you so much Hodder & Stoughton for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If horror with a hint of originality like Hex is your thing, we also highly recommend Slade House by David Mitchell.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt at Amazon.com.
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