Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Hachette Australia) 2016, 404pp, RRP $32.99

As translated by Nancy Forest-Flier, Heuvelt’s latest novel is of course a study of evil (of all types), and while it works as a memorable horror drama, there’s also considerably more at work here, although you’ll have to read it yourself to learn of its deeper, scarier concerns.HEX - Thomas Olde Heuvelt - Hachette Australia - The Clothesline

The Hudson Valley town of Black Spring is basically cursed, although the townsfolk are happy enough when we first meet them all, as they’ve learned to live with the ‘Black Rock Witch’, a 17th Century woman named Katherine van Wyler who still wanders the streets, complete with sewn-shut eyes and a not-quite-sewn-shut mouth that seems to whisper quiet blasphemies. A surveillance and security company named Hex has long monitored the town and kept Katherine out of the limelight and away from potential prying eyes (there’s a proven fear that if you mess with her in any way, she can induce sudden deaths or drive her tormenters to suicide), but the younger residents of the town, particularly Matt and Tyler (sons of Steve and Jocelyn) are increasingly rebelling. Especially as the powerful veil of secrecy means that their Facebook and Twitter accounts are monitored, and that they can never truly leave town.

Heuvelt’s tale is an entertaining read with strong characters (like the abused Griselda, who sympathises with Katherine and brings her gifts and offerings), and yet surely the most memorable figure here is Katherine herself, who’s as much a victim as a victimiser and can’t be as bad as the olds make her out to be. Or can she?

Dave Bradley

This title is available through the Hachette website. Click HERE to purchase your copy.

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