Author Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Format Kindle Edition
Page Length 385
Publication Date 17 Apr 2013
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
Read Dates 21 Mar 2017 – 05 Apr 2017
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.
This is a masterclass in how to write contemporary horror. This has everything that I enjoy in a good horror story. It feels new and different to your average horror. I really like it when someone takes a classic, overdone theme and breathes new life into it. This is what we have here. I LOVED it.
The story is about a witch/ghost that haunts an American town. Although, when I say ‘haunt’, I sorta mean that she just exists there. The town has their own emergency decree and organisation (called HEX) to try and contain the knowledge of the witch. She’s creepy, has her eyes and mouth stitched up but she doesn’t really do much and is more of just an inconvenience than a haunting. She shows up in random parts of the town and the townsfolk use an app to track her last sighting. Sighting her isn’t too difficult, she literally stands in a family’s dining room at one point whilst they carry on with their lives around her. The townsfolk deal with her in a very nonchalant way and as long as people leave her alone she doesn’t really cause any problems to anyone. That is, as long as she is left alone. Do you see where this is going? It wouldn’t be a horror novel if everything remained hunky dory now would it? *Dramatic pause and creepy music*
I went into this knowing very little. The way the story started, I thought it would be an easyish read. There is a lot of dark humour (which I love) and I set myself up for such a read. I liked the characters, they are everyday people that are easy to relate to. The dialogue felt real. I thought the witch was interesting but I didn’t really see her as a threat to the other characters. Oh boy, how wrong was I? If there is ever a case of the quiet ones being the ones you have to watch out for, this witch covers it! I’m not going to go much more into the plot because it would spoil it, and you really should read this book yourself. What I will say is that this story could have so easily gone down the route of ‘witch kills lots of people in a gory manner and then hero of the town overthrows her to send her back to hell using an ancient incantation etc etc’, but it didn’t! This book is smart. The horror comes from places you would not expect. It is not a slasher horror – it’s a psychological horror more than anything else.
This felt similar to a Stephen King horror, with a splash of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (these stories popped into my head at a few points). The horror aspects are described in such a matter of fact way that it made me uncomfortable. There was several points when I found myself happily reading along and then having to stop to think ‘Hang on a second! That’s fucking horrendous.’ And speaking of uncomfortable feelings, it does deal with suicide, the aftermath of suicide and mental health struggles, which I found a little difficult at points. But then I quickly got drawn back into the story and was desperate to know what was going to happen next.
I don’t scare easily because I’m a real tough manly man, but I found myself looking around a little more than usual when walking alone down a dark street after reading this. Go ahead and grin Thomas Olde Heuvelet, grin away.
Anyway, I’m off to have nightmares. Peace and Love!