Book Talk: HEX, Chapter 10

Posted January 10, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Bilingual read-through of HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

List of Prominent Characters

So, the NL and EN tags are the ones actually used in the story. If it’s listed for both then it’s a shorthand I’m using to note which of the characters is which. Where no name for ‘both’ is included I haven’t used a name for both. (Expect this list to get updated per chapter!)

  • Beek (NL), Black Spring/Black Rock (EN), Black Beek (both)
  • Stefan (NL), Steve (EN), Ste (both)
  • Katherina (NL), Katherine (EN), Kat (both), aka Wylerheks (NL), Black Rock Witch (EN) Wyler Witch (both)
  • Jolanda (NL), Jocelyn (EN), Jo (both)
  • Timo (NL), Tyler (EN), Tiy (both)
  • Oma (NL), Gramma (EN), Granny (both)
  • Max (NL), Matt (EN), Maxmatt (both)
  • Robert Grim (NL, EN)
  • Claire Hamer (NL), Claire Hammer (EN)
  • Jens van der Heijden (NL), Warren Castillo (EN), Jenren (both)
  • Jasmine Aerendonck (NL), Bammy Delarosa (EN), Jasmy (both)
  • The Aerandoncks/The Delarosas, Aerenrosa (both)
  • Martijn Winkel (NL), Marty Keller (EN),Winler (both)
  • Loes Krijgsman (NL), Lucy Everett (EN), Loucy (both)
  • Pieter van Meerten (NL), Pete VanderMeer (EN), Pete van Meer (both)
  • Marieke (NL), Mary (EN), Marie (both)
  • Laurens (NL), Lawrence (EN), Lau (both)
  • Jelmer Holst (NL), Jaydon Holst (EN), Jaymer (both)
  • Mirna (NL), Sue (EN)
  • Burak Sayers (NL), Burak Şayers (EN)
  • Bert Aerendonck (NL), Burt Delarosa (EN)
  • Gemma Holst (NL), Griselda Holst (EN), Gemelda (both)

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 seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear.

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, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past.

In chapter 9: Tiy and the gang start up more experiments. We also learn that Jaymer has always had a penchant for violence towards the Wyler Witch. Oh, and also, Jaymer pokes the witch with sticks and threatens to assault her because he thinks it’s funny.

TRIGGER WARNING NOTE: Chapter 10 features mention of a past rape and a face-to-black rape. This post, thus, mentions them and discusses the way they’re used as a narrative device. (Hint: My conclusion is ‘badly’.)

Chapter 10

We’re now onto Halloween! Or, as they Dutch still calls it, All Hallows’ Eve, because they don’t celebrate Halloween. (Or they didn’t until the onslaught of Halloween films from the US.) The Wickervrouw becomes the Wicker Woman, which is basically what it says on the time and the more interesting note here is that the Dutch version specifically uses ‘wicker’. Which, to be fair, is the correct Dutch term as far as I know, but it’s not like Dutch doesn’t have its own wicker history to draw on, so I find it a curious note that the English term seems to be the more dominant one.

Lia Belt becomes Liza Belt. Jan Orthensen becomes John Blanchard and Smorenhoek becomes Ackerman’s Corner.

It’s basically what you’d probably expect of a ritual where you burn a wicker person, though it’s of course got a little tied up with the Wyler Witch over the years and it’s as much “This is our one day of the year where we actually get to mess with the evil terrorising us” as it is what it originally was. Or more so.

Grim adds animal cruelty to the reasons to think him an absolutely horrible and nasty person. (Look, he wants to reintroduce medieval animal torture ‘games’. I know I’m probably supposed to be thinking he’s doing it for a lark to poke fun at the committee and the whole concept of the festival in general, but I don’t think it was made particularly clear in the narrative itself. Sorry.)

I am… I’m just not. Going to cover his negative thoughts about Outsiders. I’ll just say he thinks they should all go and commit bestiality and leave it at that. I DO NOT LIKE GRIM.

Granted, I don’t like a lot in this book and basically the fact that I know what will happen to Grim is about the only narrative highlight I can think of because yes I can be petty and vindictive. BUT HE HAS YET TO SHOW A SINGLE REDEEMING QUALITY AND WE’RE A THIRD OF THE WAY THROUGH THE BOOK.

Also, you know that very important Do Not Touch rule? Yeah, they broke it in 2003 when they pinned a button on her and it decided to not melt the way the sunglasses did.

Oh, look. More foreshadowing of the “But it was not what the protagonist expected!” kind. And we get a pov switch in the same scene and THIS IS YOUR TRIGGER WARNING FOR A RAPE THAT OCCURS IN THIS CHAPTER.

But first I point out that I will never get over the fact that the church in the English version is called the Crystal Meth Church pretty consistently. In Dutch it’s consistently the Bartholomeuschurch (Bartholomew Church). Anyway, inside this church is a dude called Arthur Swinckels. Or Arthur Roth in English. I forget why Arthur is locked up, but Gemelda is pretty sure he’s dead because she sort-of not-quite didn’t-actually starve him but she was just following orders and doing what the Wyler Witch wanted. Also he’s very purple and mad because, you know, it’s autumn and he’s naked and chained to a wall and stuck in his own excrement.

And now Gemelda is afraid of checking whether the dude is dead because she’s doubtful he is and apparently it is the same doubt she felt when her husband raped her years ago. And then Arthur opens his eyes and she screams and Arthur pins her down with his body and starts pinching her breasts and she disassociates and then afterwards she is filled with all the rage and beats him to death with a broomstick. I just. I’m just going to leave that there. Suffice to say that I am extremely unhappy with the whole scene – for one, there’s no good indication why a woman who’s been hinted at as being physically strong cannot fight off a half-starved man before he gets sexually violent and we learn enough about Gemelda that she could easily have freaked enough to beat him to death when he grabbed her wrist rather than after he’d raped her. I mean, I get the free-instinct taking over, but I don’t think it works in the scene, even assuming that the rape was actually narratively necessary (which it wasn’t, but horror needs sexual violence because it is the ABSOLUTE WORST thing you could possibly do to a woman?) I just. I hate this scene. So much. I hate the casual misogyny in this book so much.

Oh and also remember way back when they had the story about the plague and the bird on the church in another chapter that was all about scene setting? There’s an owl on a church that no one notices exactly when Gemelda is beating Arthur to death.

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