This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 20.1.
You’ve got to love a book that disses Twilight not once, but twice. That being said, there are myriad other reasons for reading Michelle Krys’s Hexed, not the least of which is Krys’s engaging characterization and willingness to subvert narrative expectations.
Indigo Blackwood is having a rotten day. Her best friend, Bianca, is being a hag (in the colloquial rather than supernatural sense); her undesirable neighbour, Paige, successfully corners her for a ride (which seriously infringes on Indigo’s cool factor); and a body lands in front of her car as she drives home. What is most disturbing, though, is that the dead man was holding a paper inscribed with Indigo’s mother’s Wicca shop address.
Enter Bishop: previously dead, seemingly stalking Indie, overflowing with sarcasm, yet apparently necessary in Indie’s quest for answers. Indie’s mother is almost paranoid about protecting her “Bible,” properly titled The Witch Hunter’s Bible. When she is accosted, and the Bible goes missing, Indie swears she will get it back and sets out to find Bishop, whom she knows is somehow connected. Instead, he finds her, and insinuates himself into her life, revealing to her the world of magic to which he—and Indie, it turns out—belongs. Magical stuff happens. I can say no more than this without spoilers; suffice it to say that lurking within the events that ensue are moments in which the reader’s expectations are—sometimes violently—disrupted. Krys manages nonetheless to retain her readers’ loyalty; her writing inspires readers’ trust in a way that is necessary to carry us through the rough patches. The one narrative expectation that is not subverted is our desire for an at-least-somewhat-happy ending.
The dénouement, though, is the one moment that disturbed me. I felt betrayed. Hexed contains an epilogue, three pages in length, which reveals the central conflict of the as-yet-untitled sequel. Why was this necessary? It is almost as if the publisher needed a hook to lure readers into purchasing the next installment… But Hexed in and of itself contains a successful, cohesive narrative arc. There is a hint of where the story might go, and that is enough. Krys’s characters, her plot, her narrative voice all engage the reader successfully: we want to stay in her world. The attempt to trick readers into further engagement seems crass and manipulative, when the story inspires reader loyalty on its own merits.