Book Talk: HEX, Chapter 25

Posted March 6, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 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 24: We see the effect that recent events have on Grim and the way the Wyler Witch has suddenly changed her patterns and Grim is wondering what could possibly drive Tiy to this, but is not at all thinking about the fact that there’s at least three people in the town who have very good reasons to hate Tiy.

Chapter 25 – Scene 1

Okay, so Max has woken up now, but he’s catatonic and totally unresponsive, so I’m not sure how that means he woke up? Can someone medically inclined explain what is going on here?

Ste also apparently knows what it’s like for Maxmatt under the bandages because of his own medical experience, but damned if I know what that experience actually is. And he is left alone to talk with his father-in-law about what happened and we’re supposed to feel so sorry for his plight that he can’t be truthful or talk about all the awful things that happened prior to this moment. I’m sorry. I’m all out of sympathy. I’m feeling more sympathy for poor, neglected Jo and Maxmatt since no one really seems to give a damn about them and their well-being at the moment, certainly not Ste. He’s all about Tiy.

Also Jan, the father-in-law’s first name, has for some inexplicable reason not become John but Milford. I think I may have mentioned that, but in case I haven’t? And nope. Other than Maxmatt waking up (sort of) and Ste’s emotionally lashing out at people for existing in the privacy of his own head, that is pretty much all that’s happened in this scene.

Chapter 25 – Scene 2

So there are no donors for Maxmatt, who needs a cornea transplant, and Ste and Jo are both lost in their grief and unable to comfort each other. I SWEAR THIS IS THE MOST FUNCTIONAL FAMILY.

Also despite previous discussions and potential for what Tiy would’ve wanted, they’re going to bury him in the town because Ste wants his son near him. Also possibly outside forces are making him do it. We don’t know.

Oh, and Jo wants to be held by her husband and is asking for help and all the dude hears is Tiy asking him for help in his memories. And, like, I get that this is an important moment. It’s to show us how badly Ste is doing and where his messed-up priorities are and how terrible his shock is and the situation they’re in being awful and all that good stuff that’s setting us up for later revelations of actions and making sense of his choices, but. But. All I can do is sit here and be like “Yawn. Well, of course you only care about your dead son”. Also, he compares hugging his wife to hugging a ‘hunk of dough’ that leaves him feeling nothing because, clearly, he loves her very much and finds strength and emotional sustenance and all that good stuff in her presence in this difficult time.

Chapter 25 – Scene 3

Also this scene contains discussions of the aftermath of suicide and its effect on surviving family and friends and it’s NOT all related to the actual narrative in the book, so tread with some caution is this is a sensitive matter for you. It is one for me.

Jo is now on anti-psychotics because she’s having delusions and is imagining that nothing happened and having panic attacks. I would like to note here that Ste is supposedly TOTALLY FINE. (He’s not, obviously so, but we’re definitely supposed to see him as having it more together than his wife because, obviously, women who are traumatised go off to have hysterics. Ugh.)

Also he is unable to give his wife and still-living son the attention they ‘needed and probably deserved’. Please note that the emphasis is mine. Please also note that this is presented to us as a general part of the narrative commentary more than Ste’s thoughts on the matter. I think we’re supposed to take it as Ste’s thoughts being “Well, they deserve better than I’m giving them, but I just can’t” but I find the narrative reads more like it’s approving of Ste prioritising his dead son’s memories over his living family who needs him because they only probably need his support. I would also like to note that the Dutch version does not contain the word ‘probably’ (nor a Dutch equivalent, obvs) and the whole point is moot in Dutch. It was a deliberate addition to the English text because, clearly, this book needed more misogyny and queerphobia. It’s not like the Dutch sentence didn’t work! It actually worked quite well! It’s all “I know my family needs me, but I am too overcome with feels to be there for them” which is heart-breaking. The English more closely goes for “I think my family needs me, but I’m not sure and I’m too overcome with feels anyway”. Which is… also heart-breaking, really, because it highlights just how fractured the family has become with Steve being totally unable to understand what his living family members need from him, but that’s just… not how the way it’s written comes across to me.

OH, GODS, STE. SHUT UP. He’s talking (well thinking) about how Tiy’s girlfriend is going to just let him go and move on by next year and. Like. Okay, here have a personal story.

I had a younger cousin. He was very similar to the way Tiy’s been described. Popular, kind, witty, had a girlfriend, etc. The main difference is that, unlike Tiy, he wasn’t great at studying in the sense that he was maybe pushing himself way too hard to perform academically and be perfect and that actually hurt his grades rather than did him any favours. Anyway, my point is: he was a well-loved, well-liked boy about Tiy’s age and with a girlfriend he loved a lot.

He killed himself.

And like Tiy it was a horrible and nasty way to go and everyone was upset and hurt and, look, I’m going to skim past to just point out that he broke up with his girlfriend because he didn’t want her to go through school as “the girlfriend of the suicide” and she is still hurting even though it’s been several years. And there are obviously things I’m not talking about because they’re private, but my general point is that I take personal offence to the way this book handles the aftermath of Tiy’s suicide because I do not have any reason to believe that this book’s characters work like that and every reason to believe that they don’t. I am not even okay with this clearly being Ste’s own twisted thoughts on the matter because the narrative is so terrible at calling out stuff like this in general. If you spent over 2/3rds of the book not calling out or otherwise making questionable and –ist stuff clearly marked as “This is what the characters think, not how the world works”, then I’m not about to suddenly make an exception to assume so now.

And I am the snarliest because I am grumpy and already upset and this tiny whole section just reads like it wants to shit on my family’s and my cousin’s girlfriend’s experiences and I AM NOT OKAY WITH THAT. Eff this. Let’s move on. I only need to read about 100-odd pages more and I can be DONE.

Meanwhile, Jo is having another near-nervous breakdown while Ste is TOTES fine and he is uncomfortable with his wife’s tears and feels about being told platitudes. Because god forbid we have Ste actually spend a moment comforting his wife instead of just listening to what she’s saying.

Ste is also getting sympathy from Gemelda who, we can tell as the reader, is clearly more informed about what is going on and what’s happened than Ste is. He’s also comprehended… something. We’re not sure what because the text goes out of its way to tell us that Ste doesn’t know what he’s comprehended and offering us more foreboding.

And that’s it for this chapter.


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