I sort of struggled a bit with this prompt. Most books translated into English tend to be pretty classic novels that I sometimes find hard to read. I’ve already read the Millenium trilogy which would have been my first choice. Enter Amazon who suggested HEX for anyone who enjoyed The Woman In Black.
Aside from Stephen King, I don’t really read a lot of horror novels because I have an extremely over active imagination. It took me 6 months to get through IT, because I couldn’t read it if I was alone in the house or after 3pm, in case I had nightmares. So naturally, I had some trepidation about plunging into a ghost story, but plunged in I did.
Synopsis (from GoodReads)
Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.
Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters your homes at will. She stands next to your bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened.
The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in so doing send the town spiraling into the dark, medieval practices of the past.
What I Loved
HEX is a genuinely scary book. It is The Blair Witch Project of books – the concept seems simple but is so well executed that it’s freakin terrifying. It taps into that dark childhood fear that someone is watching you in the dark and is so well described that Katherine will haunt you for some time after the last page.
What I Didn’t
Look honestly, the characters were super unlikeable. I didn’t really root for anyone in this book except Katherine. It made it hard to care about what happened to them, which made certain parts of the novel a struggle to read.
The setting was changed from the Netherlands to the USA on translation, which I think really affects the way the characters are written. Occasionally things things that they said or did just didn’t quite ring true to me. Reading the afterword, the ending was also rewritten for English-reading audiences and it definitely shows. HEX is a scary book, until the last three chapters, where it all goes sort of…. weird. I’d be interested to see what Thomas Olde Heuvelt had written originally as I think it probably would have fit better with the rest of the story. It was a real disappointment for such an otherwise well written book.
What have you been reading this week? Share in the comments!