Paul O'Neill's Reviews > Hex

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
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Five star concept, three star execution

I'm soooo disappointed in this. The concept is absolutely awesome and by all accounts it provides the backdrop for what should've been a classic. The writing, pacing and descriptive powers of the author let it down badly.

It's hard to put my finger on exactly what went wrong. The writers descriptions are so strange and random at points that it sucked me out of the story. 'his smile rose like a cloud of carbon monoxide...'. I'm pretty sure that gas is invisible. It put me in mind of the completely random and irrelevant imagery used in the book thief.

This is a horror book, and some parts of it are scary, but there are also parts that made me laugh which I'm sure wasn't intended. As a result, I was unsure how to feel about the tone of the book.

More than anything though, there was just the lack of any heart or emotion in the story. I didn't connect with this much at all, which is a shame as it should have delivered.

It does have some good points and the concept alone is worth reading about as it is original, as far as I know. The family dynamic is very honest and interesting for the main family. The ending is good (although fairly obvious from the get go).
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Reading Progress

May 3, 2016 – Shelved
May 3, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
June 4, 2016 – Started Reading
June 4, 2016 –
June 5, 2016 –
June 5, 2016 –
June 6, 2016 –
June 7, 2016 –
June 7, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Viv (new) - rated it 3 stars

Viv JM Do you think the problems with the writing might be to do with the translation? I did find it pretty scary at times, but like you didn't connect much - I don't think the characterisation was great (especially lacking in believable females I thought). I did love the concept though!

Chris Berko My biggest gripe is that it is so similar, in parts, to Pet Semetary. You're right though the concept was amazing.

Paul O'Neill Definitely didn't have any likeable females in it.

Possibly, but that shouldn't really be a problem and is just bad practise from the editors.

I wanted to like this so much! When the scary imagery happened, it was excellent. Just didn't happen too often and couldn't take it seriously after the whole lamppost scene...

Paul O'Neill I could only imagine the zillion stars I'd give it if Stephen King wrote it....

Paul O'Neill Chris wrote: "My biggest gripe is that it is so similar, in parts, to Pet Semetary. You're right though the concept was amazing."

That's a very good point Chris. I hadn't appreciated that when reading it but now that you mention it, it does have a lot of similarities.

message 6: by Jeroen (last edited Aug 15, 2017 02:05PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jeroen I haven't read Pet Sematary yet, but, as a Dutch speaking Belgian (and hence quite connected to literature culture from the Netherlands), the thing that struck - and appalled - me, was that this story is actually one gigantic rip-off from a short story, called 'The Painting', from a (in this region) very famous author of scary stories for children. I'll summarise the plot of 'The Painting' for you:

A painter visits a quant fishing hamlet to practise his skill. In this town, however, there is a woman, who is shunned by the villagers and even tormented by the children. One of her eyes has been sewn shut, because the villagers believed it to be an evil eye; wherever she looked, misfortune or even disaster would follow. So they closed it. The painter takes pity on this woman, and using one of his tools, he cuts the stitches of her evil eye. The woman tells the painter to leave town immediately, as she is grateful for his service and doesn't wish for him to be harmed. The painter flees, and after that, she removes her hand from her evil eye, and all hell breaks loose (as in, the entire hamlet gets wiped out).

I didn't even mention the fact that the villagers are described as "behaving almost like beasts" at one point. The main difference is that The Painting was WAY more frightening, of course because I was a child when I read it, but also because of the fact that the witch had such a human side to her, and as she was genuinely traumatised by the event of having her eye stitched shut, you cared for her, like the painter did, which made the horror - combined with the massive creep factor the author put in the ending through the paintings the painter did of the town - that much more effective.

Paul O'Neill Thanks Jeroen. I did not know that. I don't mind if a book is heavily influenced by another book or author in general. It does sound like this is a straight rip off though which is horrible.

Any recs for scary kids stories? If that's what you read growing up I'm scared to visit! Ha (just joking, or am I?).

Jeroen No problem. Indeed, after all, artists across all genres influence each other all the time! But paying tribute to a source of inspiration (like Stephen King sometimes does with Lovecraft) is one thing, copy pasting ideas is something else entirely.

I have a lot of recommendations. Unfortunately, all of them are Dutch books; there's actually (been)* a group of authors who call themselves - loosely translated - 'the horror company', who worked together to come up with and write child-friendly scary stories. But as far as I know they haven't been translated, which is a shame, because some of these books are put together very well and really deserve more exposure!

*They were big during the nineties, but they may have been disbanded by now. I'm not sure.

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