Hexis

Hexis by Charlene Elsby

I’m not relentless. “Relentless” makes it sound like there’s something called “relent” and that I’m lacking it. In that sense, I’m not relentless, but perhaps I’m unrelenting. I could relent if I wanted to. But he always has to die. I mean “always” in two senses: at all times and all of the time. I can’t kill him all of the time. That would take too long. But all of the times I did, I did. I’d do it again. I could relent if I wanted to, but instead I’d do it again. If he’s different, then he’s the same and if he’s the same, he’s got to go. If he were different and not the same, then there would be two things and I’d only have to kill one of them. If only I only had to kill one of him. What a life I would live, if only I only had to kill him the one time. But death doesn’t always do him in.

The IndieMuse Review

I usually start off my reviews with a brief blurb of the book to give readers an idea of what the story is about. Hexis is a book that is nigh on impossible to blurb while simultaneously giving the reader an idea of what to expect, as it doesn’t have a story in the traditional sense. Hexis is a 150 page-long philosophical stream of consciousness. I appreciate I may have lost a lot of you already with this intro alone, and I think that is an apt an introduction to this book as you are likely to find.

The first thing to mention, to those of you who are still curious, is that Hexis is an incredibly dense book, almost to the point of being impenetrably difficult to read at times. Although it is relatively short, I read it in several sittings over a few days. I sometimes found myself absolutely riveted, but just as often found myself lost and more than a little confused and struggled with it, almost to the point in giving up entirely. I wasn’t expecting an easy read from a novel that opens with a lengthy quote from Aristotle and an easy read this most certainly is not.

If you can persevere, however, it is unlike anything you’ll have read before. The book is about an unnamed woman who is haunted by a decades-old abusive relationship. She sees (and often kills) this man everywhere she goes. Is it real? Imagined? Something in between? I was never quite sure, and I’m not convinced the answers are given to us either way.

Is Hexis a revenge fantasy? A horror story? A dark comedy? A philosophy textbook masquerading as fiction? All of the above, and it still doesn’t come close to defining the book. It is consistently laugh-out-loud funny, but also brutally violent, often shocking, and painfully downbeat. I doubt many readers would sympathize with the character, but there are a lot of universal truths that her experiences expose which may be sadly familiar to a lot of readers.

Just in terms of a pure horror book, it is extremely effective. There are plenty of harshly violent moments, and Elsby doesn’t shy away from them for a second. There are elements of revolting body horror that will turn even the strongest stomach and it is all relayed to us in darkly poetic, unflinching prose to make sure you never forget what you have read. Like all truly memorable horror books however, it’s the psychological horrors that will really stay with you.

This is not a book for everyone. I’d go so far as to say it’s not a book that would appeal to most people, but it is an incredibly assured and powerful book nonetheless. I can’t claim to have understood everything I read, but I very much appreciated the challenge it presented, both in terms of content and delivery.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

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