British Fiction Focus

Welcome to Black Spring: Covering Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Thomas Olde Heuvelt is a name you should know. The author of five genre novels and any number of unsettling short stories—not least ‘The Ink Readers of Doi Saket’, which you can read right here on—Heuvelt, who made his dark fantasy debut at age sixteen, went on to win the Netherlands’ Paul Harland Prize not once, not twice, but thrice. Three times, readers!

None of his award-winning novels have been translated into the English language to date. Happily, a bunch of his short stories have, and they’ve went down very well. In 2013, ‘The Boy Who Cast No Shadow’ was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette, and he and his translator Lia Belt won that award in 2015 for ‘The Day the World Turned Upside Down’.

So what’s next for Heuvelt?

Forgive me, folks, if I’m behind the times here—so far I’ve only suffered through the first four episodes, and I’m not inclined to read the novels, neither—but the following synopsis puts me in mind of nothing so much as Wayward Pines:

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 spiralling into a dark nightmare.

Warner Bros. is apparently in the process of adapting a TV series from the text of Hex, but before we see hide or hair of that, Hodder & Stoughton will bring us in Great Britain the book it’s based on, and here’s how it’ll look:


Gotta love a good GIF!

As familiar as the novel’s synopsis is, the buzz building around the first of Heuvelt’s novels to be released to English-speaking readers has me pretty pumped.

As indeed does the author’s inspiration. According to Hodder & Stoughton, who just announced their plans to publish Hex hereabouts late next April, “he calls Roald Dahl and Stephen King the literary heroes of his childhood, who created in him a love for dark fiction.”

That makes at least two of us, Thomas!

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.


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