‘Hex’ by Thomas Olde Heuvelt Book Review
In making his English language debut with the horror novel Hex, Dutch author Thomas Olde Heuvelt has shown readers all over the world that he is a force to reckoned with on the bookshelves. Beautifully combining gothic horror and Orwellian science fiction to tell a story of a town trapped by fear whether they want to admit it or not. The town of Black Spring in upstate New York, has a dark secret, one that has put the town under constant surveillance. An undead woman who was executed for being a witch 300 years ago, wanders the village with her eyes and mouth sewn together for fear of what evil she would unleash on the world. The agency known as Hex has been charged with keeping the secret of Black Spring by monitoring everyone through surveillance cameras, phone apps, and keeping a log of who goes in an out of town. Living in this town full or paranoia and an undercurrent of fear is Steve Grant and his family adjusting to this as their version of normal. Steve’s oldest son Tyler and his peers have had enough of living in fear, and utilizing a GoPro and the power of social media they plan to document the witch known as Katherine. But their actions inevitably lead to grave consequences for the town of Black Springs.
Thomas Olde Heuvelt balances a wide ensemble of characters to do a truly remarkable job in building the world which they inhabit, where they have come to view a three hundred year old witch walking down the town streets as normal. With Hex, the author deftly performs a balancing act with multiple genres leaving no doubt in the minds of many that he will leave a huge mark in horror literature. Not only does the young Dutch writer opts for a slow burn type horror, spending the entire first half of the book slowly amping up the dread and suspense while familiarizing readers with the town he has created. It is in the second half of the novel which begins with a jolt, where everything goes to hell for the characters and each chapter is filled with scares and emotional gut-punches. My only complaint about this book is in the lingo utilized by the teenage characters which already comes off as dated despite the recent release of the book itself. But as Joss Whedon himself pointed out as he wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is perhaps the greatest challenge in writing characters in this age range due to the constantly evolving nature of their language. But this is only a minor flaw in this masterpiece of a book which is bound to captivate a wide array of different readers. It easy to see why critics and writers all over the literary world are hailing Hex as one of the best horror books of the decade so far.