Book Talk: HEX, Chapter 23

Posted February 20, 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)
  • 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 22: Ste and family have attempted to return to normal lives after the events that led to the public flogging of three teenagers who’d been working with Tiy on his OYE project. Creepiness of creepiness, someone has sneaked into Tiy’s bedroom in the middle of the night and played… something beside his ear. Repeatedly.

WARNING: This chapter contains graphic description of suicide and failed suicide.

Chapter 23 – Scene 1

The English edition adds more references to Hansel and Gretel. Or at least it adds a small paragraph noting that, in fairy tales, “the cruellest part is often overlooked: It’s not the depravity of the witch, but the mourning of the poor woodcutter over the loss of his children”.

And oh, yes, this chapter is going to be all about the manpain because who cares about the fact that the witch tried to murder and cannibalise the woodcutter’s children, right? That is nothing compared to how sad and upset the dad is to have lost his children even though he was the only who abandoned them in the woods deliberately in the first place.

Please. Spare me.

Ste is now curled up on the floor beside Tiy’s bed, telling us how very sad and terrible everything is and how he has no concept of family left – this “choose the dead, straight son over one’s living, breathing wife and gay son” is IN NO WAY going to come back to haunt this book – and just blah. I know I should feel at least sympathy for Ste at this point, but the writing doesn’t have the emotional punch to pull it off. It’s all just telling us what Ste is feeling and that he is feeling. It’s a difference I’ve noted between Dutch and English writing styles in general. Dutch writers are far more likely to describe emotions than to convince readers to feel them. Storytelling isn’t about drawing the people in to experience what the characters are experiencing in Dutch literature. It’s about writing a crafty book with pretty sentences more than it is about connecting to the emotions of the reader. I think, anyway. It’s one of the main reasons why I don’t like Dutch literature that much. It’s traditions don’t agree with me. (Makes it very easy to spot translations or who’s been influenced by English literature more than Dutch, though. They read completely differently and modern day Dutch books, apparently excepting this one, lean more towards capturing that sense of emotional connection that English considers important.

Anyway! My point is: Ste’s manpain. I am sorry, I have no sympathy. I understand why he’s not with his wife and living comatose son and I understand that he’s lashing out at them for still being alive, but pu-lease. I am very bored and would much rather read about the comatose son. Also apparently they couldn’t cut Tiy down because the Wyler Witch was there. I’ve no idea why they couldn’t cut him down since most attempts to do stuff around her have had only belated repercussions (and you’d think she’d understand wanting to cut a suicide down asap), though, because the book won’t tell us how she stopped them short of being present. What, did she stare at them with her sewn-shut eyes? I mean that would freak them out even more, I’m sure. I just wish we knew more about why this was so impossible in her presence.

And that is basically it. His neighbour stops by to try and convince him to go to the hospital and be with his family and… he can’t. Which is fair enough. He’s clearly entirely out of it and I actually don’t know why they didn’t send him to A&E or a psych ward evaluation or something because he clearly is too far out of anything to be left alone. But then I don’t know how hospital trauma care works when it comes to “Oh, hi, I walked in to find both my sons attempted to commit suicide and one of them succeeded. And also there is an evil witch that will not let me cut his body down because she is evil and she caused this” types of situations. There are some more minor name changes and tweaks to the text, but that’s more or less it, really.

Jocelyn’s family has moved from Delft (something like an hour to two hours by train, I estimate) to living in Atlanta, so there’s a bigger change there which is… interesting, really, given how much of a big deal the beginning of the book made about their inability to leave the town. I guess she’s not staying for long enough for that to take effect, but you never know.

Oh now we’re getting the Inquisition references. And also, in case you wanted to know, Ste’s flashback is all about getting his friend out of the room because Tiy is his son his and he does not want to share. And also apparently even though this is all Ste’s pov and we know they couldn’t cut Tiy down because of the Wyler Witch, Ste has actually not yet noticed the Wyler Witch until now. Unless the timing in that section is just messed up and this took place before he curls up on the bedroom floor, I suppose, but since it’s explicitly stated to be seven hours after discovering the bodies…

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