Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm not generally one for witch stories. I don't know if I just feel like the genre is played out, or if I don't get the impression that there's much new to be said, but they've never really grabbed me even though I'm reading more horror than I ever have before. Hex, though, changed my mind a bit. A modern way of dealing with a long-standing trope, it hits all the right beats for a classic story while being totally unique.
Hex takes place in a smallish town. The town is basically under significant lockdown due to a witch that has been haunting the town for hundreds of years. There's a military outpost nearby due to the haunting, the town itself has cameras everywhere to track its movement and location, there are rules about outsiders, about coming and going, and so on. The witch herself has her mouth and eyes sewn shut for reasons lost to the modern world, but no one really dares to test whether it's necessary. Kids prank the witch, sometimes they just put a drape over her when she's in the way, but it's the big elephant in the room. Of course, some teens have had enough, and what they do disrupts the entire town and the tenuous existence that they exist in.
In many ways, this reminded me of Wayward Pines in a sense, in that there are a lot of minor story points revealed along the way that help explain some of the weirdness. But, while it has its elements that remind me of certain things, what's great about this book is how utterly unique it is. This is a story that can't exist in any other time, and can't exist without the international discussions about the internet, about modern surveillance, and without the sorts of stories horror books tell about humanity in and of itself. There's never a dull moment here, and it just makes for an amazing read.
This is an interesting read, too, because the original story is in a different language and has a different ending specific to that area. I don't know what that ending is, but man, if it's half as good as the English language one, I hope it gets translated. For now, though, if you like weird stories at all, you need to shoot this to the top of your list. One of my favorite recent reads.
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