Book Talk: HEX, Chapter 13

Posted January 13, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


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 12: The town has voted! But the more important events in this chapter include abusive behaviour by Jaymer and the dog has disappeared.

Also: wherein a Lynn swears because seriously. Leave the pets alone, Dutch authors. What is it with you and fictional pet murdering?

Chapter 13 – Scene 1


Yes, if you haven’t noticed the part where I’m very underwhelmed by this book, I care a ton more about what happens to the dog (and why) than I do about just about everything else in this story. Because LEAVE THE PETS ALONE.

Anyway, the dog has mysterious escaped and the only way for that to happen is to open his run from outside. So, of course, it is entirely reasonable to assume that one of the townsfolk let the dog out as revenge for saying a dead guy had a right to a proper burial. Actually, I’m being mean because neither Ste nor Grim thing it’s in any way likely, but it’s more because a townsperson would just have given the dog poisoned food, not kidnapped the dog. Not because the townspeople are in no way scared enough to think this is an entirely sensible response to someone suggesting they be decent people. (To the dead body of a rapist. In case anyone had forgotten why the dead dude is dead.)

The dog food changes. Which is interesting only because the US brand name mentioned is also sold in the Netherlands. Anyway that’s pretty much it for the changes.

Chapter 13 – Scene 2

Oh, more history. We’re back to the Roman times for the Dutch version, but only to say it was a holy spot in which they buried their dead. Oh, and it was a place where there was a keep in the 11th century and where people have done horrible things. Because goodness forbid we forget that this kind of stuff has been happening for centuries.

The English version, like the other times, switches the Romans out for the Munsee and turns the keep into a 17th century lookout point. It also adds a note that’s specific to the US in that it remarks on the settlers having fled there from Europe because plague. (Hey, don’t look at me. That’s what the text says.)

We get some more scary suggestions of what’s happened to the dog. TRUST ME, WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED IS WORSE.

A fairy ring! Which, if for some reason you don’t know, is a circle of toadstools or mushrooms (I forgot). We get some interesting lore here which is basically the same, but I wanted to note that the Dutch name for a fairy ring is a witches’ circle. (Or a witches’ ring, but I prefer circle.) Which is a little less dissonant than expecting actual fairies to show up and get linked to witches, but that’s undoubtedly just me. You mention fairies, I’ll expect fairies.

Oh. We get more backstory on when the Wyler Witch was actively doing stuff to people without provocation. In the Dutch version, however, there was an execution in 1942. In the English version it’s moved to 1932, ten years earlier. Again, this is likely to make the story match up to historical events in the region. And, in a twist, the next date mentioned is moved up a year in the English version. There’s something else that happens in 1944, but in the English edition it’s 1945.

And we switch more dates around to match local things. Dutch Grim was born on February 1st 1957, when there was a catastrophic flood in the Netherlands and parts of the UK. American Grim, however, was born August 17th 1955 to match his birth date up to a local weather extreme: Hurricane Diane.

The next date stays the same: 1885 when Elsje Romershof disappears, which is when HEX was created. In the English version her name is Eliza Hoffman.

Now the books are lining up again, though. We’re just getting more foreshadowing of what’s about to come. (Don’t worry. They’re going to be diverging again shortly.)

We’ve got De Gelderlander becoming the New York Times, which… is… an interesting change. De Gelderlander is very clearly a local newspaper. Technically, so is the New York Times. Unlike the NYT, De Gelderlander has not reached any kind of level of fame, national or international. It’s a local newspaper and if you’re not local, you’ve not heard of it. The New York Times is… a very different story. It is massive. Now, the text is actually talking about the paper’s existence in the past, when this little girl disappeared, and the New York Times was, undoubtedly, not the massive international journalistic powerhouse it is today.

But modern readers will still take that idea into how they read the reference here. When you say De Gelderlander the disappearance is local news and, well, not widely discussed, covered or known. When you say the New York Times, the disappearance is, at the very least, potentially making national headlines and known to a lot more people.

Both influence the story and the way we read the motivations of the people who created HEX and both have the potential to do it slightly differently. I think I like the change to a bigger, more well-known newspaper. Throughout the book, so far, we’ve seen how scared the townspeople are of outsiders poking into their business. The idea that what happened was so big that a major national (international) newspaper thought it was worthy of reporting on must’ve scared the hell out of the townspeople. It’s a far more imminent threat than when it’s local news.

Then we have some more changes about the way the municipality is governed, but since we’re switching up from 1817 to 1871, that could also just be a typo. What’s more interesting is that the Dutch and English version have a slight difference here in that the original version specifies when the AIVD gained some measure of concern over Beek (1913) when the US edition only talks about when Black Spring gained independence by The Point.

Dead dog is very dead. Just so you know. In case you missed the memo when I last mentioned it. The discovery is actually a little anticlimactic because it’s used to draw an effective end to the discussion on how HEX came to be. Pete van Meer exclaims in shock, we get a paragraph of physical description and the conversation is drawn to a halt because dead dog is very dead.

Can I just… point out that for all that Ste is saying he likes the dog, his response to seeing his dead pet hanging from a tree is to sigh and go “How am I going to explain this?” and not, say, “OMG! NO!”? I can? Good! Because he totally does not act like someone who’s just found their beloved pet having died a horrible death at the top of a tree.

I would also like to take a moment that this is Olde Heuvelt actually being fairly kind to his readers. Me, if this was my horror story, I would’ve made sure they found the dog just before it was about to die, so they had just enough time to try and save it and had to watch entirely helplessly because they weren’t fast enough. Because I’m evil.

We do get some more details on how the dog died. It hanged itself, somehow, under the influence of the Wyler Witch, much like the story of the WW2 veterans we heard about earlier. (In fact, it’s implied to be the same spot, I think.) Ste has a moment of doubt about whether or not he caused the dog’s death by passing the fairy ring wrong, but it doesn’t last long. He is a scientist. Also he has a vision of both his sons having hanged themselves too. THIS IS NO WAY GOING TO COME BACK IN THE STORY LATER.

Anyway, Frank Hulzink becomes Rey Darrel and with that we end this scene.

Chapter 13 – Scene 3

Not a lot has changed in this section. There’s a dated reference in the English version, but it’s just a more clearly defined note compared to the Dutch.

Chapter 13 – Scene 4

Just so you know: if you’re reading this book and want to skip “How did the dog actually die”, skip this scene in its entirety. Which, all right, is probably more effective than watching the dog die in front of you as I would’ve been tempted to do to mess with the characters.

Here, also, if you’re curious, the date is identical in both versions. We’re in early November.

Tiy, dude, this is not the time to be lying to your father. I know you’re in shock, but seriously. You know perfectly well what happened. And he may be just about to tell them, but apparently the Wyler Witch has decided that this family in particular needs to bear the brunt of her wrath. Presumably because it was their dog, but seriously, Kat, assign blame where blame is due. Tiy was clearly guilty only of not being able to catch a fast dog. He was very vocal about disagreeing with Jaymer’s actions all throughout that. If you want to take vengeance for what happened to you, attack the dude who actually did it. Not the people who tried to, you know, STOP IT.

And this is…actually one of my issues with the book in general. Since I read in an interview that Olde Heuvelt actually changed the ending of the book for the English ‘translation’, I’m hopeful that he’s either changed this up or that I’ve just forgotten what we learn of Kat’s reasoning later, but she has zero reason to go after Tiy and his family. Not when compared to what some of the other people in the book do.

The horses spooking is, I think, more to do with them smelling blood in the nearby water and losing it rather than Kat deliberately targeting them, but we’ll see this later because this family is going to be absolutely central to what unfolds. I just. At this point, I’m actually honestly just annoyed not to know more about Kat’s reasoning. I don’t think she’s creepy, after all, and this really isn’t helping her cause. I just think supernatural creepiness is a lot more creepy when you know just enough of what they’re thinking to start theorising what they’ll do next, who they’re aiming for next and when you have just enough background to understand why they’re doing it. And we have zero background on why the Wyler Witch is still around to cause mayhem. (Yes, I don’t think “She became a malevolent being who takes pleasure in tormenting innocent descendents of the people who wronged her and everyone who even dares move into the area regardless of whether they’re descendents of the people who wronged her or not. She’s just terrorising a town because. Well. Because evil is as evil does.)

Anyway, that’s the end of chapter 13. The stakes are being raised.