Book Talk: HEX, Chapter 21

Posted January 21, 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)
  • Kobus Mater (NL), Colton Mathers (EN), Colbus (both)
  • Jules Helsloot (NL), Justin Walker (En), Ju (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 20: The townspeople have proven that mob mentality and fearmongering is a terrible thing as the majority of people voted in favour of publicly flogging teenagers for stoning the Wyler Witch.

WARNING: This chapter includes graphic descriptions of flogging.

Chapter 21

We start this chapter off with a reasonably graphic depiction of the lead-up to the punishment itself. I will note only that the book wastes no time in throwing in another Sharia reference as soon as it can and this time the Dutch version does it too. In case you’ve forgotten from last time, there’s absolutely no reason for it. Olde Heuvelt could get the effect he’s going for by referencing Europe’s own history. Better yet, given that we’re dealing with witches it’s a far better idea, especially since it’s a topic where readers are likely to know more about the specifics of and, thus, have far more active and vivid imaginations.

You know. On top of the whole thing where it’s islamophobic and/or racist. (I’m still not sure because I’m brilliant like that. T_T I think it’s both, though?)

We are now on November 15th. We’re sticking to the same dates this time around.

Dutch weather becomes New York weather. Oh, and also, we’ve chained the boys up because clearly handcuffs just won’t do. Or something. Also the chestnuts that get thrown at them have become pinecones. And since I’m writing changes up anyway, I’d like to note that the statue in question has changed from being named Bronze Washerwoman (well, Bronzen Wasvrouw, but you know) to just being described that way.

Oh! Wait. The town didn’t have a properly trained police force, did it? That’s why they don’t have handcuffs.

And apparently Ste’s home is one where people were throwing plates last night. I would like to think that this is just a figure of speech to say there was a big argument, but a) the text actually says they had a big argument a little earlier and b) if it’s a saying at all, it’s not one that’s common enough to be interpreted figuratively even if that’s how it seems to be intended.

You know, I’m starting to think that the reason my own work is tremendously vague without betareaders asking me repeatedly to make it clearer is because my response to a lot of the things other people really like to see in fiction is “OMG STOP WITH THE BLATANT FORESHADOWING”. See Ste hugging his family close. YOU DO THAT, STE. IT’LL BE THE LAST TIME. Or one of them anyway.

The boys are described as either ‘Dutch boys’ or ‘All-American boys’ depending on the version, but the Dutch version notes that Burak is ethnically Turkish. The US makes no such distinction.

The radio stations the commuters stuck in traffic listen to have changed, of course, as have the landmark names. But what’s also changed is a little line at the end of the paragraph. The original Dutch reads (in translation): “The Netherlands was waking up. The world kept turning.” Or words to that affect. The English version says: “America was waking up. Good morning, America.” I’m going to assume that the phrase is a reference to some American morning tv or radio show, the same way that the Dutch phrase can be seen as a reference to a Dutch show, albeit an evening one. What I like about it is how the flavours of the sentences change. The Dutch is stronger on the portend and the sense of horror because the world as a whole doesn’t care and the paragraph has slowly been spreading and widening from the square this is happening on to far away where you might, just maybe, catch the ripples of what happened if you knew to watch for them.

It goes like this: we start off with descriptions of how the boys experience the flogging, then it spreads into the crowd closest, then further out and further out, growing more distant and faint until… the world just keeps on turning because it neither notices nor cares. It’s a horrific description, but the way it work is beautifully done.

The US version, however, doesn’t go quite that far. It halts and never carries through into the wider world. It begins and ends with the US. But there’s sense of irony to the phrase “Good morning, America” that has its own impact. It’s not a good morning, of course. People just think it is because they’re unaware of the atrocities committed so close to their homes. It’s also quite beautifully done, really, adding a layer of emotion that wasn’t there in the original on top.

Ah. Yes. Of course. The fact that these good, upstanding, faithful white people could ever resort to flogging is the fault of the Wyler Witch and part of some evil, nasty, diabolical plan. Guys, I know you’re deathly afraid of her and that you have good documented reasons not to untie her or anything, but has anyone ever tried just being nice to her? Like just treated her with some small modicum of kindness just because they’re kind people? I mean, the peacock Gemelda got her seemed to be all right (if frightened) until someone tried to take it away from her. And, seriously, this book has been so focused on trying to convince me of the cloying atmosphere of this town (and failing, sorry) that we have absolutely nothing to go on in terms of her motives other than what the townsfolk said. That works when you’ve got some kind of description-defying Lovecraftian eldritch horror rising from the depths. But this is a woman who’s been wronged and… that’s it. That’s… really not enough to build up several centuries worth of hatred and damnation, for me. I want to know more about Kat’s motives and situation. I want to know more about why she can’t be appeased. Like… I don’t need much. I would totally settle for a (slightly more present) theory that she’s been taken over by some devil or demon to exact revenge or something like that. I just need something that convinces me this is actually something a woman as badly hurt as Kat would do or how the supernatural got involved at all to start with.

Please let an actual partial explanation for what is going on with Kat be part of the changes that Olde Heuvelt made to this edition.

Interestingly, while the Dutch version has clean-up taking place until 10am, the English version has it take until 9am. That’s an hour less. I assume the implication is that the town needs to do less clean-up than in the Dutch version?

Anyway, that’s it for this chapter.