Book: Heksenhoeve by An Janssens
Release Date: October 4th 2016
Tags: Fantasy / Supernatural / Mystery / Belgian Author / Occult / Diversity / Mental Health / OCD / LGBTQ+ / Transexual / Trigger warnings / Mentions of Suicide / Abuse
Wie de Heksenhoeve binnengaat, komt nooit meer naar buiten
In het Meerdaalwoud ligt een oude boerderij verscholen. Wandelpaden lopen er in een wijde boog omheen, geen konijn of hert waagt zich in de buurt, en de bewoners leven er nog zoals honderd jaar geleden; er is geen elektriciteit, de wc is een hokje buiten en water komt uit de waterput. Maar wie of wat houdt de bewoners daar… en hoe kunnen zij iets te maken hebben met de moord op een studente, tien kilometer verderop in het bruisende Leuven?
Vragen voor Sander Dats. Hij is slechts het hulpje bij de federale politie en door zijn allesoverheersende teldwang is hij het mikpunt van spot, maar dit is zijn kans om zich te bewijzen. De zaak neemt echter een onverwachte wending wanneer Sanders ex Anouk op de Heksenhoeve terechtkomt en de bewoners haar niet meer laten gaan.
Who goes to the Heksenhoeve, never returns.
In the Meerdal Forest an old farm is hidden. Paths go around in a wide circle and no animal dares to go near it. The inhabitants have lived there for a hundred years. There is no electricity, the bathroom is outside and the water comes from a well. But who or what keeps the inhabitants there? And what do they have to do with a murder on a college student, 10 km away in the lively Leuven?
Questions for Sander Dats. He is just the help with the federal police and his all consuming counting obsession makes him the focal pint of ridicule, but this is his chance to prove himself. The case however takes an unexpected turn when Sander’s ex ends up at the Heksenhoeve and when the inhabitants won’t let her go.
Ever since I first saw this book over on Oog op de Toekomst I knew I had to read this. I had been wanting to give this Belgian author a try but this standalone just seemed much easier to try than a whole trilogy right of the bat. I’m glad I read this book but it isn’t flawless by a long shot.
This book is a supernatural mystery. When a college student is murdered and one of the witnesses has gone missing, Sander knows there is more to the story than what his superiors think. I enjoyed the whole aspect of the supernatural bit. There was a bit of occult in this book and it referred to cults and brainwashing. I specifically call this book a mystery rather than a thriller as some do because I was drawn in by the mystery aspect of it all but to me there was no real thrill in the book.
Character wise I like Sander right from the start. Sander has OCD and has to compulsively count or something bad is going to happen. I thought this was done really well. It is a part of him. I also liked how he made it clear it wasn’t as easy as just not counting as a therapist told him. That is not how it works. But I also hated how everyone regarded him. Like he was some neurotic idiot. Which is probably an accurate presentation of how society views those with OCD. But it still sucked because he was so smart. And a good guy. Which is why I hated even more how his ex thought about him.
Anouk is the second main character of this book and I had a lot of problems with her. Mainly because of how she thought about Sander. After having been in a relationship with Sander for 6 months, she still clearly didn’t know anything about OCD or ever even bothered. I don’t know what Sander sees in her. When the book started the first few chapters were in Sander’s point of view. So when we suddenly got Anouk’s I was disappointed and drawn out of the story, especially because of her views and in the first few chapters of her point of view nothing happens.
Something else that bothered me was that even though I enjoyed the occult and supernatural bit, it really needed a lot more deepening. I guess for a book under 300 pages you can’t expect that much but for it to be solved I thought we would really dive into this and none of that happened. That was a shame. It could have enriched this book.
Another thing I did like was the addition of a transgender, though I wasn’t necessarily pleased with the roll she got to play. Other than that I would point out this is certainly can be a triggering book as it has abuse on and off the page and mentions of suicide and murder.