“Oh, the darkness. If only he could enter back into it! If only he could undo his deeds.” – Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex
Evil can manifest in numerous ways, whether in plain sight or lurking behind a veil of deceit. For those familiar with the lore of witches, particularly in the United States, mass hysteria was a common result of the negative stigma associated with such a practice. In retrospect, it was understood that people, specifically women, fell victim to the accusations of sorcery, ultimately leading to their deaths.
A modern telling of a town fallen under the curse of a vengeful witch, Tomas Olde Heuvelt’s long-form horror novel, Hex, challenges the idea that modern society has evolved beyond the limited understanding of the past in dealing with witches in a humane manner.
Black Spring, New York is a small community managed by a council in order to ensure the safety of its local inhabitants by keeping watch and avoiding the witch at all costs. The witch, formerly Katherine van Wyler, was put to death in 1664 for accusations of sorcery. More than 300 years later, the residents at Black Spring continue to witness the frail, distorted form of van Wyler, bound by chains with her eyes and mouth sewn shut. Residents visited by Katherine are compelled to carry the burden of the Black Spring curse that restricts its residents from ever leaving town for too long. Those who tread of the dangerous path of prolonged departures are driven into madness, ultimately leading to their suicide.
Heuvelt keeps readers invested in the storyline, as well as the characters. He doesn’t conceal details to blind the reader in any way. From the beginning, the reader is acquainted with the townsfolk, its history, and Katherine van Wyler. Even with all the details in plain sight, the reader will continue to be deceived by unexpected circumstances.
Hex offers a modern witch-hunt account that challenges our own arrogance in a civilization that proclaims, and firmly believes, our tech-savvy culture will deliver us from the ignorance of the past. Heuvelt’s approach in presenting such an original story proves that ideas can still be unique as well as entertaining and easy to follow. Hex, in some ways, reflects our current social climate and how we, as a society, chastise those who we feel threaten our way of life, and the belief that our modern way of thinking is superior to the notions of yesterday. Hex is surely worth the dive into Heuvelt’s world.
Heuvelt is a Dutch author whose written five novels, Hex being his latest, as well as received several accolades, such as the Paul Harland and Hugo Awards for his works.