reviews

Book Review – Hex

hexBook: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Original Release Date: April 2013
Genre: Fantasy Thriller/Horror
Reading Format: Paperback
Edition: Dutch edition by Luitingh Sijthoff
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads (Dutch) / Goodreads (English) *

* Currently this book is only out in Dutch. Next year this book will be published in English. Unfortunately this also seems to mean the setting will change for the English version which I personally think is a shame.

Dutch Synopsis

Wie er wordt geboren is gedoemd er tot zijn dood te blijven. Wie er zich vestigt komt er nooit meer weg. Het ogenschijnlijk pittoreske dorpje Beek is in de greep van de Wylerheks, een vrouw uit de zeventiende eeuw wier ogen en mond zijn dichtgenaaid. Zwijgend loopt ze door de straten en dringt ze de huizen binnen, nachtenlang staat ze aan je bed. Iedereen weet dat haar ogen nooit mogen worden geopend.

Er wordt alles aan gedaan om haar aanwezigheid geheim te houden. Maar als een groep jongeren besluit viral te gaan met de heks, laat ze de moderne samenleving langzaam maar zeker afglijden naar middeleeuwse praktijken. En dan is de wraak van de Wylerheks nog niet eens begonnen…

English Synopsis *

A small town in the Netherlands, called Beek, is in the hold of the Wyler witch. The Wyler witch is a woman who was prosecuted for being a witch in the seventeenth century and whose mouth and eyes were sowed shut. She walks through their streets, visits them at home. The towns people fear her. Everyone knows her eyes and mouth should never be opened for fear of her vengeance.

Beek does everything it can to keep their secret from the rest of the Netherlands through high-tech surveilance and a virtual quarantine. A small group of teenage boys however do not agree with this and plot to expose the Wylerwitch on the internet. But they don’t realize which events their actions will trigger…

* Freely translated

Review

Since I don’t think the synopsis prepares you well I will start with this. Trigger warnings for this book: rape, mentions of physical abuse, suicide, language, zoophilia.

As seen above this is not a book that will be for everyone. But don’t let it scare you away either. It is a horror and fantasy thriller. The plot I found very interesting and it grabbed me reasonably early on. I think this might have had to do with the first scene that made me say out loud, ‘What the hell is going on?’ I got hooked. I wanted to know what was happening. The start of the second part of the book got me to shed a tear. Yes, this is the second book in my whole life that made me cry! There had been such a build-up and I think emotions exploded. Unfortunately after that the book lost me a little. I think the author pushed it too far right after that.  I felt a little disjointed with the book from then on. The horror was strong at the end. However more so than that I think the book is about us as a society and how we can act inhuman to others and forget our own morals when we think we are under attack. When we are scared. And that is important to realize in these days.

It is set in a small town in the Netherlands, the country where I happen to live. There is so much familiarity. Small references, Dutch sayings. I just felt so connected to the town even though I’ve never been there. It was just like other Dutch towns, like one I grew up in. It made it easy to connect to the setting and have it pictured in my head, more so than I have with other books.

I do have some other issues besides the ending with it. There were some scenes from the camera that were written mostly in present tense. As most of the book is written in past tense, this bothered me slightly. I understand why he choose to do this, but it jolted me out the story a little at the start and that was a shame.
Next to that there is a focus on the youth. Now there was a long period where the Dutch youths would use cancer as a curse word. Today society reacts to it stronger and I think it is used less now. But this is often used in the book by the youths. I have to be honest that it bothered me. I don’t think the book needed it. There were enough shock factors in the book already. And they could have cursed without using cancer.

As for the characters, I thought I wasn’t emotionally invested in them up until I had the second part of the book and I cried because of what happened to two of them. It does take a while to get in to them. Grim is a character that I had issues with because he had weird fantasies. Later on in the book it connected with me that this was more than likely caused by influence from the Wyler witch without him realizing himself and it became normal to him to have them.

I am conflicted about this book. There are parts of it that I loved, but there are other parts of it that disgusted me. But then this is a horror/thriller and isn’t that a bit the point? If you read this, be prepared for the book to be stuck in your head for a while.

Happy nightmares!

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7 thoughts on “Book Review – Hex

  1. Hi Annemieke,

    A while ago you asked me what about my thoughts about this book. Well, right now I’ve reached the part where the witch’s eyes have been opened (I don’t consider this a spoiler since you know from the get-go this is going to happen). That means I have less than 100 pages to go before the end.

    My impression: I am genuinely shocked. But not because of it being scary (it isn’t), nor because of the trigger warnings you gave at the beginning of this review, but because of the shameless intellectual and creative heist Thomas Olde Heuvelt pulled off with this book. Worse yet, he stole everything from my childhood’s favourite author, Paul Van Loon. So, basically, the sole purpose why I’m reading it all the way through the end, is to jump to Van Loon’s defense and call out the plagiarism this book is rife with. If Goodreads reviewer J.G. Keely* profile text “I am a critic–which is to say I am in possession of a poetic licence to kill” is true, then my review of Hex will be my first murder. So, I guess this gives you an idea of what you can expect. I really feel that people should know that there’s almost nothing authentic about Hex, except maybe for the author’s somewhat disturbing fixation on boobs/nipples.

    *(you should check him out if you’re planning on specialising in fantasy – he may come across as a bit arrogant, but he has VERY interesting views on the genre and in my opinion is usually pretty right on the money)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for leaving your thoughts here Jeroen. I’ll look into this some more.

      Is it all from one Paul van Loon book or multiple? And did you read the rewritten one or the original one? I have to say I did read some Paul van Loon but only Dolfje and such. None of his other works really so I would not have recognized it. But I’ll be looking into what you say a bit more when I have time (probably September) and see what I will do with it since I have waved the Hex flag a bit here and there and I was planning on reading the rewritten one later this year.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi! Sorry for the late response. I started typing this shortly after you replied, and then for some reason I got distracted and that’s how I only returned here several weeks later. 😦

        If you’re going to look into it, I can make your investigation very short and easy: it’s from one Paul van Loon book. Actually, one short story of his book, to be precise. I’m talking about “Het schilderij” from “De Griezelbus 1”. I was looking for a way to include a screenshot from the first two pages because those alone already make the resemblance obvious, but I didn’t find any (and that’s when I got distracted, as mentioned before).

        Like

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