Book Talk: HEX, Chapter 7

Posted January 7, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Not-A-Review / 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 6: Exposition Galore! We learn the backstory of Black Beek and  the Wyler Witch insofar as people have managed to cobble it together.

Chapter 7

Laura van der Meijden becomes Laura Frazier. And the Vrij Nederland newspaper becomes the New Yorker. We’re back to the lack of past perfect tenses for past events that annoyed me so a few chapters ago.

Oh, and we learn that Doodletown is an island. I assume, then, that I misread the size of the polder Heuvelt was talking about in Dutch and the original is actually also more of an island than a continuous piece of land with the rest of Beek.

Primary school De Biezenkamp has become Black Rock Elementary and juf Miranda has become Mrs. Richardson.

The bunker that serves as a detention centre (and is what ‘polderdetentie’ refers to) remains a bunker, though it is now placed on Iona island rather than on an estate outside town boundaries.

And both versions use the phrase ‘to come out of the closet’ and then joke about holding a pride parade. (The most well-known Dutch ones, if you’re curious, happen on boats on the Amsterdam canal. It is massive and the whole city is packed.)

Oh! Oh! And now we’re getting some of the changes that I genuinely lament. Little bits of Dutchness that don’t carry over in a localisation. Instead of talking about the Witty Wieven – think Dutch versions of the elves of folklore – which, if I recall, are actually fairly local to the area the story is set in, the English version talks about Roswell.

And this is also where something else comes in. Sue’s Highland Diner. Remember when I said its original name was ‘De heksenkring’? That means ‘the witches’ circle’. We know from what Ste is thinking that the townspeople use the legend of Kat as tourist attraction insofar as possible. So you have this diner/pancake house which organises witch tours and the owner of which dresses up as a witch because they’re using Kat as advertising to sell their town to visitors. Which is a lot creepier when we see that point reflected in the names of businesses in the area.

Did I note already that Lotte, Timo’s girlfriend, becomes Laurie? I can’t remember. She doesn’t play a large role, being an Outsider.

Laurie wants to go to Europe after finishing high school, while Lotte wants to go to Australia. I assume Europe is a more popular destination for American students?

And then… Then we have an interesting note. Tiy and Ste are having a massive generational clash in this chapter. Tiy, idealistically, wants to make sure the world knows about the witch and see whether the world can find a solution where the inhabitants of Black Beek have failed to. Ste, being older, is more jaded and resigned.

If you recall, Ste and Jo moved to Black Beek when Jo was pregnant with Tiy. So when the big argument is less than an inch away from descending into namecalling and Ti accuses his father of messing up his life, Ste asks whether they should have aborted Jo’s two pregnancies.

Now, as you may know, the Netherlands is generally seen as fairly progressive when it comes to abortion. It is, certainly, a lot more accepted socially and sex ed explains what it is and how it happens. Abortion in the US is… a lot more fraught as a topic, shall we say?

So for Steve to keep that question… This chapter has made a lot of Ste’s progressive nature and the town’s ultraconservative stance. It’s so conservative, in fact, that I wouldn’t be surprised to see most inhabitants be vehemently pro-life. So, at least for me, the way Steve implies it in a fit of anger says a lot about who he is and what he considers important. Certainly more than in the Dutch version where abortion is far more accepted.

Oh! History lesson coming up! In the Dutch version the last time anyone tried to go public was in 1942 when Nazi sympathisers tried to tell the Nazis since they wanted to give Hitler the real occult deal. In the English version this happens in 1932 because workers had lost their jobs and tried to bribe the town into giving them back.

And on that cheery note, I shall leave you for today. This chapter doesn’t really have any other changes that are of note.

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