aPriL does feral sometimes 's Reviews > Hex

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
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'Hex' is the worst disappointment I've had this year so far from my stack of books.

The book was translated from Dutch to English, so from the start I thought the writing was odd, with off-of-the-beat misplaced idioms alongside the manner of speaking that someone has having learned English from action movies (the narration reminded me of how the Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks spoke), with odd cadences and peculiar constructions in places. Still, it was a terrific book for 200 pages. The paranormal witch character is terrifying! I had to sleep with the lights on the first night after starting the book. Then, exactly at chapter seventeen, it turns into a horrible tone-deaf book written seemingly by a middle-school kid who has watched many Sy-Fy movies without knowing anything about adult life and nuances. The artistry of writing an emotionally coherent story goes completely missing. The book becomes one as if written by a 15-year-old using his parents, neighbors and teachers as characters, who all become one-dimensional fodder to feed the reader irrational suffering and scenes of riot and social chaos.

Gentle reader, in reading the last half of the book, I felt a bit like I do in beginning to watch a TV soap opera which has been on television for 20 years - one is a bit lost for three weeks until the plot and characters are fully sorted, but there are recognizable ongoing plots: that scene is an strange man and woman arguing about getting a divorce because of an affair, this scene is a cop examining the scene of a crime, next there is a businessman arguing with people about who was responsible for a leak to the press - entertaining, pretty and shiny, all very stock footage and comfortably familiar, yet without depth or reality. The soap opera seems like only a staged show with a bunch of actors acting out some sort of a script, and I feel no emotional investment whatsoever. As time goes on, the various subplots become understandably linked and important, and the actors become favorite people one likes or dislikes. Unfortunately, what happens to this book is exactly the reverse: the subplots become unimportant and abandoned, and the people become one-dimensional actors performing a script of disjointed, unconnected scenes of meaningless action and movement.

There are also ongoing warnings of doom throughout the book from beginning to end, which give the ending away. Like a typical SyFy channel movie about young adults marooned on an island, you know the only mystery will be who is still breathing by the end of two hours of gory murder.

Ok, I'll describe the story:

Do not buy a home in Black Springs, a lovely little middle-class town in the Hudson Valley in 2012. It is a quiet landscape divided up into large plots of meadow and forest, with burbling springs which usually burble clean water. However, sometimes the water burbles red....

A curse was placed on the town centuries ago by a witch, Katherine van Wyler, who was first accused of witchcraft, and then who was tortured and murdered after she was forced to kill her innocent little zombie boy. Katherine's malice grew large after her death in 1664, so huge she keeps returning to wreak vengeance. The witch isn't as powerful as she had been originally, not since 1713 when Dutch villagers caught her ghosting about in the woods and sewed her eyes and mouth shut. Now, she walks about town along her customary routes, with guest appearances inside people's houses. However, she is not harmless. She can kill people if they understand her whispered words, if one makes the mistake of leaning in close to listen. Folks who have heard what she has to say suddenly are hanging from ropes by the neck or jumping off of cliffs. And, do not touch her. Yes, she is corporeal when she shows up. Touching her brings bad luck in the days that follow. Very, very bad luck.

The people of Black Springs have learned to live with Katherine. They have to. Once people buy a house there, they are trapped like flies in a glass bottle. Anyone who leaves the town, walking or driving past the boundary, after buying a house in Black Springs, suffers from a terrible urge to commit suicide. It does not happen quickly, but the urge builds up over days, until it is irresistible. Since the main business of the town is tourism, the 2,000 residents of Black Springs tell no one visiting the town. Only new house-owners are told the secret. There is a government military post which watches over Black Springs, as well.

Through the use of apps, the town reports Katherine's whereabouts constantly, being careful to ignore her presence and not touch her when she is standing inside a kitchen or a bedroom. Despite her sewn up features, her whispering is continuous. Most people throw a washcloth over her head and walk around her, until without any visible cause she vanishes, showing up in someone else's house. Kids who are born in Black Springs are tutored carefully on how to behave with her.

But some boys are tired of Black Springs and Katherine. They want to break the curse and leave town. Unfortunately, they do not have any idea of how to do it. There were experiments in the past, but everybody who tried to hurt or kill Katherine, again, died. Tyler, Jaydon, Burak Lawrence and Justin, all around 17-years-old, about to graduate from high school, have a plan....

I suspect YA readers who adored The Maze Runner will like this. I think 'Hex' is a better book, but it falls into the same kind of nonsensical plot outcomes and character behavior, especially when the author is writing from the viewpoint of some adult characters.

I can recommend the first 200 pages. Unfortunately, the last 200 pages are garbage.


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Reading Progress

June 17, 2016 – Started Reading
June 17, 2016 – Shelved
June 17, 2016 –
page 186
48.44% "I laughed as I placed my bookmark where I was stopping for the night. 'Hex' is silly, if a fun read, I thought. I reached up to turn out the light. I hesitated. SHE might pop in. It would be dark. Really really dark. I'd be with HER, the witch, in the dark. No such thing, of course. But SHE is terrifying. And I'd be in the dark. So dark. I left the light on all night."
June 18, 2016 –
page 447
100% "I am very disappointed. It is a fun scary book for 200 pages. Unfortunately, the second half of the book is nonsensically stupid and irrational. I cannot recommend this book. One-star. I will review later."
June 18, 2016 – Shelved as: bizarre-wtf
June 18, 2016 – Shelved as: horror
June 18, 2016 – Shelved as: its-not-what-i-was-expecting
June 18, 2016 – Shelved as: magical-drama
June 18, 2016 – Shelved as: mysteries-potboilers-thrillers
June 18, 2016 – Shelved as: paranormal
June 18, 2016 – Shelved as: older-teen
June 18, 2016 – Shelved as: young-adult
June 18, 2016 – Shelved as: why-does-everyone-love-this-ick-ick
June 18, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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Paul O'Neill So much potential that just gets squandered. Shame as I thought it had one of the best premises for a book I've read in a long time. Just failed to deliver. Good review and I completely agree.


aPriL does feral sometimes Thank you for your comments, Paul.


Brian Anfauglir So agree. "Textathons until silly o'clock"? Who talks like that?


Paul O'Neill It's rare when you can recall the exact instant a book turned from a decent book to a mediocre one. A certain scene with a lamppost done it for me here!


aPriL does feral sometimes It was like someone else wrote the last half of the book. Like you Paul, I felt it was clear as glass when it changed to awful writing from one moment to the next, between the end of one chapter and the end of the next.

Something REALLY odd happened in the writing of this book!


aPriL does feral sometimes Brian wrote: "So agree. "Textathons until silly o'clock"? Who talks like that? "

I am not young, but even I thought, what teens talk like this? It seemed to me this is a nerdy writer imitating what he thinks natural teenage slang is like. 'Silly' just does not belong in being used like that. Maybe it was something teens in the Netherlands said? IDK.


[Name Redacted] I'm glad I'm not alone in this. Such a disappointment.

And as someone who works with adolescents, NO-ONE talks like that.


aPriL does feral sometimes [Name Redacted] wrote: "I'm glad I'm not alone in this. Such a disappointment.

And as someone who works with adolescents, NO-ONE talks like that."


I still wonder what happened to the writing, even now, months later. Such a great horror concept trashed!


message 9: by Andreas (new) - added it

Andreas Henriksson Entirely agree with this review. I got the impression that the end was just written to follow through on an idea for a social commentary, for which the author sacrifices all characters and in-world logic. In the first half, the author wants to lure the reader in before he will make this (rather uninteresting) commentary. Turns out, he is rather much better at luring readers in (as authors of fiction tend to be) and perhaps should tune down his need to make social statements.


aPriL does feral sometimes Thank you for your comment, Andreas.


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