Starting off really well, what makes the premise of Hex so scary, for me, isn’t so much that the town is stalked by a centuries-old witch, but the fact that said Witch acted more like a spirit. Roaming from house to house at will, turning up any time anywhere she wished.
The creepy factors at play and the interesting characters we meet were so intriguing that I was willing to forego the issues that popped up from the translation from Dutch to English and the author’s clear fascination with breasts and nipples. But the further the story progressed, the more issues I encountered, knocking my enjoyment as a result.
Almost comical to begin. Katherine (The witch) shows up at the protagonist’s house, standing silently in the corner until the wife carefully places a dishcloth over the witches face to hide her decaying face complete with a sewn-up mouth and eyes and allowing the family to continue with their daily routine. But this is where the comedy stops. The story gets progressively darker until the dramatic end of part 1, when the slow-paced mystery switches gear and all hell breaks loose and that’s where my issues with the book started.
“In Black Spring they knew that desperate needs led to desperate deeds.”
― Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex
Like a TV show with an excellent first season and average second, my problems with the book stem from the first and second halves of the story boasting entirely opposing tones. The first half, an intriguing and suspenseful read with shades of The Ring and Blair Witch, cumulating in a truly heartbreaking turn of events that leaves you with more questions than answers.
The second half an action-heavy thriller that felt like a mixture of World War Z and Witchfinder General where characters’ mindsets and behaviours change dramatically from one page to the next, roughly half the mysteries that had been steadily deepening since the beginning remain unsolved and the shocking situations, blood and gore gets turned up to eleven, making all the hard work Heuvelth put into growing fear suspense seem pointless and the character development a red herring.
Maybe Hex would have been better as two separate books, giving Heuvelth time to wrap up all the plot threads, ease the reader into the change of tone and polish the ending so that the principal characters’ actions make more sense.
Overall, Hex offers up an original horror concept that mostly keeps you entertained but ends up derailed by poor execution and development that prevents it from being the 5/5 the story had the potential to be.