Thomas Olde Heuvelt was born in Nijmegen, the Netherlands in 1983. He began writing from an early age and with just nineteen years old, he published his first novel De Onvoorziene, which was only published in the Netherlands. After multiple nominations, he won his first HUGO Award in 2015 for the short novel The Day The World Turned Upside Down. In 2016, TOR Books launched his first international novel HEX, which has been published in more than 10 languages ​​and has been praised by personalities such as Robin Hobb, John Connolly, George R.R. Martin, Joe Hill, and Stephen King who called it «Totally, Brilliantly Original.»


Black Spring is a small town in the outskirts of New York. It could be any town, routine, boring, if not for Katherine Van Wyler who has terrorized the town since she was sentenced to death for witchcraft … in 1664. After her death, the inhabitants of Black Spring sewed up the eyes and mouth of the witch as a warning for all the villagers. Releasing the witch from her sutures would bring death and misfortune to everyone in the village, this warning has been passed from generation to generation until the today.

HEX is an application developed specifically by the villagers to be able to monitor the witch’s activity and her actions at all times, in this way the villagers can almost completely avoid contact with her.

Black Spring has two fundamental rules; never talk about the witch with anyone outside the town and never, under any circumstances, free her from her sutures. Once you get to Black Spring there is no going back. Anyone who moves to town is condemned to stay forever. If someone dares to leave town in a few days ends up committing suicide, it is part of Katherine’s curse.

Due to all these restrictions and knowing that they will never be able to leave the town a group of teenagers begins to record videos of the witch to upload them to the Internet. And thus expose their existence to everyone, in the hope that this will help to free them. However, what adventure provokes is something much worse and darker.

On the other hand, there are two versions of the novel, at least two endings but that (for obvious reasons.) I will explain in the part WITH Spoilers.

Review NO spoilers

Normally the sub-genre of witches is something that I avoid almost automatically. Sorry, they have never been my thing. So when I started to see in some Facebook groups about horror literature that more and more people were talking about this novel, and that everyone was praising her non-stop I decided to investigate a little more.

The first thing that caught my attention was the large number of great authors who praise Hex. I told myself that if John Connolly talked about it then the novel would be well written and would have an exquisite style. That if Robin Hobb and George R.R. Martin had been delighted, so on the fantastic side there would be no failures. And of course, if Joe Hill and Stephen King said it was a novel that had to be read, then on the horror side everything was guaranteed. So without further thinking I decided to buy it.

A pleasant surprise

At the beginning of the novel I received the first pleasant surprise. Heuvelt does not waste time with prologues or previous chapters to explain the history of the witch, he knows that he has 500 pages for it. The novel wastes no time. It begins in a big way in the middle of the Grant family’s breakfast, Katherine appears. But it is not the appearance of a witch that amazes us. It is the familiarity with which the children and parents of this family take the incident, have breakfast and chat while the witch observes them as if she were another member of the family. They even refer to her as «The Gradmother.». After all, they have been a resident of Black Spring almost their whole life and are used to it.

Little by little, we learn about the origin of the witch. Heuvelt uses the daily life of her characters to gradually release the legend of Katherine (we will talk about her in the part with spoilers). The origin is simple. A woman who was accused of practicing witchcraft 450 years ago and who was burned at the stake, the woman, who was indeed a witch, swore to take revenge on the people and since then has wandered among them provoking with her curse that no one who moves to Black Springs can ever leave the town. Those who do begin to feel like committing suicide within a few days, so far everything simple and perhaps not too original you could think. Well, it is not in the witch where lies the origin of the novel.

A dependent society

Heuvelt uses Katherine and the characters of the adolescents to tell us about this society increasingly dependent on technology. We see one of the boys recording breakfast with his family to upload it to YouTube and even his family sees this as normal.

On the other hand, when the boys begin to record the candle as part of their process to document its existence and make it public, Heuvelt speaks to us, as a subtext, of cyberbullying, of this demonization and exhibition of the «stranger» or the «weirdo» misfit.

Finally, there is HEX, this application that serves to monitor the witch … and the whole town. An elegant way to talk about the capitalistic loss of the right to privacy and totalitarian societies. A loss of which we have been gladly participating every time we install an application and give away access to all our data as long as you are not the misfit. Who is not in the fashionable social network or who is not a participant in new trends.

However, the most terrifying thing about the novel is in the second part. The part in which Heuvelt tells us that man is man’s wolf, perhaps it is Katherine who unleashes hell, at least in this version of the novel since it has two endings but we will talk about that later, but it is the inhabitants of Black Springs themselves who turn against each other and end up representing the true horror, much like what usually happens with the narrative of Stephen King.

Four reasons to read Hex.

So before we get to the part where we will talk with Spoilers I will give you four reasons to buy HEX:

  1. It comes recommended by many of the best authors of our time, again; Connolly, Hobb, Martin, Hill, King, do you need more reasons?
  2. In a sub-genre that is often repetitive, HEX offers you a fresh and updated vision of how to approach the subject of witches and curses. But also, while talking about the ultra-technological world we live in and issues such as harassment of the difference without falling into the propaganda pamphlet.
  3. The name of Thomas Olde Heuvelt is a name that will surely come to stay among the great fathers of modern horror. I guarantee it. So you can get ahead and get to know him once and for all. So in 10 years when his best works are among us for you will already be an old acquaintance.
  4. Warner has already acquired the rights to take it to the screen and/or make a television series. So when that happens you will surely want to read the novel, you can go ahead and buy time.

From here a brief review with Spoilers will begin. So if you do not want to know anything else to read the novel calmly, stop here because you still have time.

Review WITH Spoilers


In particular, there is only one aspect of the novel that I did not like. Around page 50 a young couple moves into town. The people of Black Springs do everything to convince them not to buy the house, although they could have tried a little more, and not to move to Black Springs, without, However, as was obvious, they buy the house and move to the village. When they first come across Katherine who appears in her bedroom, they watch them terrified through the surveillance system.

Well, this helps the locals trying to reassure themselves to tell most of the Katherine legend and explain what happens to those who try to move in or out of there. The problem is, that nothing else happens with this couple. I think that these outsiders who have just met the witch could be a more important part of the story and help establish some kind of resistance. However they serve as a pretext to tell the story of the witch and disappear almost completely except for a couple of almost anecdotal appearances.


In case you do not want to read the novel but you want to know what it is about, or you simply want to know it once even if you plan to read it later. Here I will explain in broad strokes the legend of Katherine and the reason for her seams in Hex.

Katherine was a single woman with two children in Black Springs in 1664. The whole town suspected that she practiced witchcraft but no one had any proof until some neighbors reported that Katherine’s son had died from smallpox, a son she adored. When days later they saw Katherine walking with her resurrected son, the villagers told themselves that now they had all the evidence they needed and they arrested Katherine and her two children. The sentence was cruel and much more inhumane than any act of witchcraft. She would burn at the stake but first, she had to kill the son who had been resurrected with the art of the devil. Otherwise, her daughter would burn with her.

Returning from the dead

When Katherine returned from the dead she swore revenge against all the inhabitants of the town. Again they tried to burn her but her rage and power was so much that she killed practically all of them, until they found a way to neutralize her, suture her eyes so that she could not see them and their lips so that their curses could not be more than weak whispers, in this way although they could not neutralize or end her at least they could limit their power and be able to continue living in Black Springs even if it was with the witch.

So remember, if you ever see a woman dressed in black walking from head to toe with chains and shackles, don’t worry, you are not in too much danger. Yes, as long as you stay at a distance where you cannot hear her whispers. Although if you run into her it might be better to cancel your vacation, something tells me that you are doomed not to be able to get too far away.


When Thomas Olde Heuvelt published the novel in its original language (Dutch) the story took place in a small town in Holland and the ending was much more classic. Free from the seams of her eyes and lips, Katherine unleashed a true hell in the town that ended in a pandemonium where everything, or almost everything, burned to the ground. SHE was the cause of the disaster.

Well, when the rights for the translation were sold together with the translator and the editor decided to make some changes to the novel. The story is practically the same, only it has some cuts and some chapters are longer, although the main change is the end. At the end of this version, the international version we could say, when Katherine is freed from the seams her power is magnified and she begins to exert her influence over the people. However, it is they who are overwhelmed by the panic of the witch and savagery. Man’s own begin to turn against themselves, killing each other while the witch watches them. In this new version (which I prefer), Katherine is one more victim of human evil

Written by Alex De Saro