The debut novel by Sarah Blackman (award-winning author of Mother Box and Other Tales) Hex explores the ways one woman uses language and stories to rebuild her own shattered sense of self.
Alice is a motherless child, born to a motherless child, and raised with neither care nor grace. Her response to this multiple abandonment is a lifelong obsession with her best friend Ingrid, or Thingy, as Alice calls her, and a sort of fantastic narcissism wherein she figures herself as the nexus of a supernatural world she understands through a blend of mountain lore, indigenous Cherokee legend, and the dangerous idiom of the fairy-tale girl who enters the forest despite being warned.
The novel is written in blended parts and is crafted as an address to Thingy’s daughter, Ingrid the Second, who is now in Alice’s care. Alice attempts to tell Ingrid the story of her life: her friendship with Thingy; her troubled relationships with her father, a small-town sexual troubadour; her stepmother, a hard-minded business woman who treats all interactions as commerce; her marriage to her husband Jacob, a silent figure of tremendous will; and her growing suspicion that Ingrid is another girl-child around whom disaster accumulates. Simultaneously, Alice tells the child the kind of bedtime stories she herself has used to make sense of her world. For Alice, and thus in Hex, the line between fantasy and reality is nonexistent, the mountain is older than its geology, and the world a limbo in which everything that has ever happened is coming around again.
Hex is a novel about violence—the violence of the fist, of the womb, of the story. It is also a novel about language and how we use it to build a world when the one we find around us is irretrievably broken.