Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Posted On 10 February 2022

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Oh my days, that start

Flipping heck this book starts with a total mind blowing scene – by which I mean you’ll need to sit behind a cushion.  To be honest, having read Hex, I already knew that this author could write some creepy prose and Echo is no exception.  What really stands out for me with both Hex and Echo is that although they’re both completely different stories they both rely on superstition and ever increasing fear.  I will mention that this book is not a book to race through,  it’s also not a slasher-type-in-your-face horror.  What it is is a character focused tale involving a traumatic experience that is slowly revealed with insidious subtlety until the dramatic conclusion ends in a turbulent finale.

I will only briefly describe the plot.  As the story begins we make the acquaintance of Nick Grevers a mountaineer who wakes up in hospital with horrific facial injuries, his climbing partner Augustin is missing presumed dead and all the evidence points to anything but an actual climbing accident.  From here we meet Nick’s partner Sam and experience his struggle to come to terms with what’s happened and from there other accidents occur and things start to look bleak.

Okay, what I really liked about this book.

The attention to detail in terms of the mountain climbing, the cold, the snow and the physical danger are excellent.  It’s atmospheric and then some.

There is a heavy play on superstition, the sort of elements that are woven into the story with such a deft hand that you could read this as hysteria, delusion or knee jerk reaction.  It’s a brilliant touch because you’re never quite sure what’s really going on and it puts you on the edge of your seat reading furiously to find out.

On top of this there’s the mystery of what actually took place and this is kept under wraps and revealed little by little. The writing is well done and I loved the way the author uses references to other horror stories with opening chapters taken from well known books together with references to Prometheus and Frankenstein.

The other really clever element is the characters.  Primarily Nick and Sam but also Sam’s sister, one of the medical staff who treated Nick originally and the people in the small village who really don’t like outsiders and any sort of upset in the balance.  We jump back to an earlier trauma that Sam and his sister experienced and how this affected them both in later life – in particular in terms of misremembering things and how this leads to feelings of guilt.

However, the really winning element of the story is the mountain itself.  Unfathomable, dangerous, elusive, ever changing, defying any attempt to conquer it.  Dark, mysterious and foreboding.

In terms of criticisms.  I think this is longer than I expected.  There is an element of reinforcement of certain aspects that begins to feel a little repetitive and certainly some points are stretched out. Not enough to spoil my enjoyment but I think it’s good to be forewarned that this is a slow burn.

I don’t want to really give too much away here which is why this review will be necessarily short.  This is a creepy and menacing story that relies heavily on exceptional characters, family ties and superstitions that have become so deep rooted that they almost feel like hysteria.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars.

Twist the bones and bend the back. Itch-it-a-cop-it-a-Mel-a-ka-mys-ti-ca


ffo.jpgHere we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .   This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below. This week’s theme:

Phone “Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it”

I thought this was going to be tough – but, a book immediately sprang to mind for this one.  A very unusual and creepy tale involving a witchy haunting: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt:


I’m not overly fond of the title font although there is a good reason behind the choice.  I like the colour, I think there’s plenty to lead the eye and then upon closer inspection you will notice the ghostly looking face towards the top of the cover.

Which is your favourite?

Next week – Plane

Future themes:

19/05/2017 – Plane “When everything seem to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it ….”

26/05/2017 – Mice “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘it might have been’…”

02/06/2017 – Moon “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”

09/06/2017 – Mummy “It shuffles through the dry, dusty darkness”

16/06/2017 – Guitar “You couldn’t not like someone who liked the guitar”

23/06/2017 – Cat “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this”

30/06/2017 – Hat “It is always cruel to laugh at people, of course, although sometimes if they are wearing an ugly hat it is hard to control yourself “

07/07/2017 – Gold “All that is gold does not glitter”

14/07/2017 – Boats “The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat…”

21/07/2017 – Planet “Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those who live on it”

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Posted On 2 May 2016

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26802679Hex is a unique story about a witch who haunts the inhabitants of a small town.  It’s a creepy tale that stays with you after you finish reading and gives you plenty of food for thought – but probably in a way that you really wouldn’t suspect.

Katherine van Wyler was sentenced to death for witchcraft by the towns people of Black Springs in the year 1664.  Unfortunately for the people of Black Springs Katherine took her death sentence rather badly and ever since has haunted the towns people who are now, effectively, cursed!
I think Hex probably has one of the most unusual concepts for a creepy tale that I’ve ever come across.  A witch, who haunts a town and literally walks the streets or shows up in people’s houses.  What makes this worse is that Katherine has her eyes and mouth sewn shut and is wrapped with chains.  Her appearance is usually preceded by the smell of rot and dirty water and if the inhabitants listen closely enough they can hear Katherine whispering quietly a string of vitriol that can cause madness and worse in any that overhear her words.  Add to this the fact that most people have become almost immune to the sight of Katherine and in some, far from causing fear she has almost become a figure to ridicule or taunt.
Now, I must confess that this isn’t a horror story!  It’s not a slasher or blood filled fest.  It’s a book that is progressively creepy.  It lulls you into a false sense of security by showing you a town full of people who have come to terms with their own sentence.  And, make no mistake, living in Black Springs is a sentence.  Once you move there you can’t leave – I won’t go into the reasons why but trust me on this – there are no physical barriers but everyone knows that escape isn’t an option.  This is the beauty of this book – it’s like a work of stealth!  You’re reading along oblivious to the fact that you’re about to be hit by something strange and dark and more than that something that will shock you and keep you reading even if you want to stop.
So, to the town – Black Springs appears to be an average and picturesque place.  The inhabitants have had a long time to come to term with it’s resident ghost and are now experts at keeping everything under wraps (or tea towels for that matter!)  The odd thing is that nobody really knows the true story surrounding Katherine but everybody knows that if something goes goes wrong and upsets the equilibrium then the whole town could fall victim.  This is such a clever concept – everyone is dependent on everyone else and it really only takes one weak link for the whole thing to fall apart and spiral into chaos.  In turn it gives Black Springs an olde world feel – the people there live their life with fear and superstition.  They don’t always trust each other and can in fact point the finger of blame without a second thought.  Almost like a witch hunt all over again.
Of course, the last time that anything scary happened in town was so long ago that most of the residents have forgotten and although some still remain vigilant the younger members of the population are starting to resent the restrictions placed on them.  They want a regular life, they want to take pictures and tweet them, date people from other towns, go on holidays to far flung places and be reckless – and so we have a situation bubbling and about to boil over.  The town of Black Springs is a town stuck in the dark ages but with a young generation bursting at the seams to break into the modern century.  A generation of youngsters who secretly wonder how bad it could really be.
I can’t give away too much more about Hex without spoiling it.  It’s a very unusual ghost story.  It takes a look at people and how they sometimes react, particularly when under severe stress or fear.  The animal instincts that awaken, only thinly covered by a relatively new veneer of civility, when the going gets tough.  And the fact that sometimes the fear and the reaction it causes can be equally bad if not worse than whatever it was that caused the fear in the first place.
I definitely recommend Hex.  It’s such a compelling book, it will make you think, you’ll start the story and have questions, much like a new resident to the Town, and slowly the truth will become apparent – and just as you come to terms with what’s going on and think you have a grip on things everything will go to hell in a handcart!
I received a copy of Hex courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Author Interview: Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Posted On 30 April 2016

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‘Whoever is born here is doomed to stay ’til death.  Whoever settles never leaves.’

Black Spring looks, on the face of it to be a picture perfect town.  It’s a beautiful spot, house prices have rocketed and only a few people succeed in purchasing a place there.  Things are not always as they seem however and this story gives a very real meaning to the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ because once you succeed  in purchasing a property in Black Springs – you will never leave again!

Today I’m really pleased to be hosting an interview with Thomas Olde Heuvelt.  Thomas is a writer who has already received lots of attention and seemingly a very pleasing number of awards for his books.  His latest book, Hex, is creating a great stir among the blogging community and after completing this a few days ago it’s easy to see why.  This book manages to be creepy in a completely new way.  A combination of new and old meeting in a super tense and scary way!  My review will follow on Monday.

Firstly, welcome Thomas and thanks for answering my questions:

I feel that the books I read as a child had a big impact on my future reading and helped to shape the kind of books I now enjoy.  Which books would you say helped to influence you the most (I read that you love Roald Dahl and Stephen King for example – if you absolutely had to choose one book from each author which would that be and why?)

Well obviously, Roals Dahl’s The Witches. My babysitter first told me that one as a bedtime story. Then she read the book to me. And then she took me to see the movie. I was seven at the time. The moment when Anjelica Huston, the Grand High Witch, takes off her mask… man, I was so traumatized! I didn’t trust any women for the next six months (including the babysitter). Imagine what my winter was like, with women wearing gloves all the time. I saw witches everywhere. But of course, the scariest bit in the story was the little girl who was cursed and appeared in the painting, and gradually grew older and older in paint and then started to fade. That’s about as scary as it gets. Ever since, I wanted to write a novel about a witch’s curse.

The other book that had such a deep impact on me that it forever influenced me, is Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. It was King’s first novel that I read, and if you’re not familiar with it: it’s by far his darkest. I was twelve at the time. Up till then, I had read some creepy stuff, but you know, they were children’s books (okay, except Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and they always had a happy ending (even Dracula did). And now I was suddenly confronted with this ultimately dark nightmare that kept on spiralling down into the abyss and left no hope for reconciliation. That screwed up my expectations! And boy, did I love it.

Witches and curses – seem to be something that have fascinated us for hundreds of years, not to mention other things that go bump in the night.  We seem drawn to things that scare us.  What drew you to witches and curses in particular?

It’s a kind of primordial fear of powers that are invisible and untouchable in times of insecurity, but that are very much there to haunt and hurt you. That’s how people in the old days used to accuse others of witchcraft: whenever something inexplicable happened, there had to be someone you could blame. The same fear plays a huge part in HEX: although it’s set in modern day, whenever something bad happens in Black Spring, the townsfolk turn not against the witch, but each other. They’re looking for a scapegoat… as what’s really at the core of the situation, is something we’d rather not talk about. Our own weaknesses, fears and insecurities. Rather than a book about supernatural powers, HEX is about the depravity of mankind when we are put in nasty, unwanted situations.

I have a couple of scary ghost like stories that happened in my past that I’ve eventually talked myself out of as whims or dreams – do you have any creepy stories of your own that you can share with us?

I’m always a bit reluctant to talk about real-life ghost stories, as they are always secondhand accounts. I wasn’t there, so I have no way to verify the experience, so that naturally turns them into stories. Maybe they saw a shadow, or a twist of their imagination, or something that wasn’t there at all, or something that was very much dead. I’d love to see a ghost one day. But no, since the day I died, I stopped believing in ghosts.

(I had to reread that answer a couple of times!! – I was like ‘what‘ – and then I was ‘okay that just freaked me out!‘)

In terms of your writing you have a number of short stories already under your belt not to mention a Hugo for your novelette The Day the World Turned Upside Down.  Do you have a preference in terms or your writing:  do you prefer short or longer stories?

I enjoy both: they’re different art forms. Writing short fiction makes you reconsider everything you do, and definitely makes you a better writer. I’m lucky that I am succesful in both. But the fact that short fiction is, well, shorter, doesn’t make it necessarily easier. Or faster. I wrote HEX in five months. The Day the World Turned Upside Down is a tenth of its length, and it took me six months. At least it got me a Hugo Award. That was a bit of a surprise: I always considered it to be a story of magical-realism, not science fiction. But you won’t hear me complain: that rocket looks pretty nice and shiny on my writing desk!

Can you share with us what you’re up to next??

First, I’m finishing a book called Hidden Faces. It’s again a pretty scary book, about another passion of mine: mountains. And climbing mountains. And it’s about obsession and possession. Then, in June and July, I’m going on a tour through the US for HEX. And later this year and in ’17, the book appears in many other countries like China and Brazil and Turkey and France, and I would love to visit each of them.

Quick Fire Questions:

  1. What are you currently reading? Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. Effective and scary!
  2. What is your ‘comfort’ read – a book that you’ve reread a few times and still love? Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Altough I have a dozen more. I call them teach reads – they teach me something new every time I read them.
  3. Which book most took you by surprise (either in a good or a bad way): Again Life of Pi. I did so not see that ending coming, and it was the most beautiful thing ever, which actually changed my view on life.
    4. Stranded on a desert island – which book would you rescue? Probably the entire Robert Jordan saga. I never read it but it looks big enough to build a shelter from against the sun.
  4. Which fictional character would you choose to be for a day! Probably Arthur Roth, the inflatable boy in Pop Art by Joe Hill. I mean if you try something different, why not weighing a few ounces for a day?

Thomas, thank you so much for taking part.  I love your answers and can’t wait to read more of your work.

Everyone, below is a bit more information about the other blogs taking part in this tour for Hex I hope you can go and check them all out:


If you’re feeling particularly feisty (or brave) here’s a little trailer to scare the bejesus out out of you:  (Caution: watch this during daylight and in company – not at dark, sat alone with the curtains open behind you – just saying!)

Thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for organising this event.


Waiting on Wednesday: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt:

26802679The incredible, horrifying thriller from Thomas Olde Heuveult, the Hugo award-winning author of ‘The Day The World Turned Upside Down’, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Adam Nevill and Stephen King.

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay, 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. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s beds for nights on end. So accustomed to her have the townsfolk become that they often forget she’s there. Or what a threat she poses. Because if the stitches are ever cut open, the story goes, the whole town will die.

The curse must not be allowed to spread. The elders of Black Spring have used high-tech surveillance to quarantine the town. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break the strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into a dark nightmare.

Expected publication: April 28th 2016 by Hodder & Stoughton