Published by Hodder and Stoughton
28th April 2016
Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.
Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters your homes at will. She stands next to your bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened.
The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in so doing send the town spiraling into the dark, medieval practices of the past.
Creepy, this book is very, very creepy. The Black Springs Witch, Katherine Van Wyler has haunted the town for 300 years, appears where she likes and the town folk know that they can never leave the town for any significant amount of time, and that Katherine, whose hands are chained and lips and eyes sewn shut, should never be free, never be able to speak and never to be able to see or the whole town will be doomed.
The way they deal with Katherine in the first half of the book is amusing, if a little bit odd – the simply ignore her, what do you do to something you don’t want to see? You cover it up, that’s what they do, putting construction huts round her, or hanging a dishcloth on her head.
The youngsters want to be free, and with access to the internet they plan on telling and showing via Youtube the world about Katherine, but interest in the town in monitored so they have to be careful.
This is where the trouble starts, from the beginning the author makes it clear that the witch cannot be touched, abused, goaded or mocked. She is there and you like with it, if you try and leave you will become extremely depressed and kill yourself.
The events in the book are well thought out and the characterisations are brilliant, Steve, Jocelyn, Tyler and Matt are our main protagonist, Steve and Jocelyn moved to the town prior to the children being born, by which time it was too late to leave. Tyler wants to expose Katherine, with his friends Jaydon and Lawrence, together the film her and record her whispers, until things get out of hand, and some of the gang start abusing her.
There are some truly horrible moments in this book, some really nasty things are done to Katherine and in turn to those who taunted her, and there is a very nasty twist at the end.
As the truth becomes apparent to Steve as to the only way the town can be saved, he is resigned to know it never will.
And on the final page a terrifying knock on the door.
Anything else would be spoilers.
The back of the book advises that this is reminiscent of early Stephen king and it really does have that dark quality about it.
This has been translated from the Dutch and I really hope the more of Heuvelt’s work is translated soon.
I gave this 4 out of 5* on Goodreads