by Jenni Fagan
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A rage-fuelled thunderbolt… but this punchy, painful novel is no sermon: Fagan cultivates the occult energy swirling around her themes, even as she explodes the myths that enables male violence
Exceptional… I’m still reeling from it, it is devastating…"the purest light attracts the most impenetrable darkness” – that line just resonates and resonates… a stunning book, thank you for this
BBC Radio Scotland
This series has already produced two works of note and distinction. It raises the question – if a country cannot re-tell its history, will it be stuck forever in aspic and condemned to be nothing more than a shortbread tin illustration? Hex and Rizzio are showing the way towards a reckoning, and about time too
Scotland on Sunday
Hex, for a book about such trauma and agony, is a crisp, clear book… elegant and angry in equal measure
Hex is a powerful, fictional retelling of the North Berwick witch trials from Jenni Fagan’
Fagan’s writing is wild and exciting… [she] stirs up a powerful brew with her magical fable
One of the most stunning literary experiences I've had in years
[an] exhilarating, humbling homage to Geillis Duncan
[a] soulful, tender, powerfully moving retelling of the last days of Geillis Duncan
Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation
Unsurprisingly brilliant, a feminist warcry from one century to another as we spend the night with a young woman about to be slowly hanged as a witch. Beautiful, moving writing
Sarah Pinborough, Sunday Times #1 and New York Times Bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes
A powerful and compelling short novel
Hex is stunning, so powerful… Beautiful work!
Salena Godden, author of Mrs Death Misses Death
I devoured Hex and absolutely adored it. I mean, what a genuinely astonishing novel; gorgeous, heart-breaking
Waterstones, West End Edinburgh
the magical and the realism are always in perfect balance… Hex is both a timely and timeless publication
A perfect encapsulation of everything I love about Jenni's work - brilliantly real characters, shot through with feminist anger, word choice to make you shiver, & that knack of taking the road least expected
Kirstin Innes, author of Scabby Queen
Powerfully conjures a meeting across the centuries between Geillis Duncan, a young girl on the night before her execution for witchcraft in 1591, and Iris, a contemporary witch
this book is magnificent. I cannot think of a voice, or imagination, like Jenni Fagan’s
Terri White (journalist and author)
Really felt Jenni Fagan's anger coming off the page… brilliant
An ‘i’ Recommended Read
A fascinating and powerful book about the history and traumas of Scottish women
It's an exemplar of the form, a book that tells its story across space and time from a writer who is fully engaged with both subject and style
Snack Magazine,10 Best Scottish Books of 2022
Stunning book. Read this in one sitting on a Sunday morning. It's 100 pages make such an impact. Sublime writing
GoodReads FIVE STAR REVIEW
This novel sent chills right through my bones
Lizzy’s Literary Life, Blog
A poignant new perspective on Scotland’s notorious North Berwick witch trials
Hex is fantastic!
Packs a mighty punch and has lots of important messages about misogyny, prejudice, abuse and inaction which was rife in the sixteenth century and still permeates modern lives
Linger Longer with Books
Hex is excellent and everyone should read it
Visceral, damning, shimmering with literal prowess and prose all under the heady guide of something much darker, this tremendous read shall stay with you forever
Daniel Bassett, Waterstones Bookseller
Small but mighty … the mere fact that this tale is based on real events gives the story a powerful, disturbing authenticity
Fagan’s hypnotic narrative reveals the might of language which can bring its own kind of justice in one single sentence
Dundee Courier, Book of the Week 10/10
Written in lucid prose, no word is wasted in this taut story. Hex is an extraordinary prose poem to the brutality, abuse, and repression of women through centuries to the present’
Historical Novel Society
I love the idea — drinking in historical fiction as a series of shots
Katherine Faulkner, author of Greenwich Park and The Sunday Times’ head of news projects
Fagan’s prose could not be more suited to her subject – at times stripped back, at others almost incantatory
Hex is an exceptional example of how to tell a story
SNACK Mag, EIBF Preview
Her work gives glorious voice to ancient Edinburgh tenements, to the Devil’s daughter, to the care-home kids, to witches, to all us pariahs and cowgirls
Witchcraft and feminism meet in one short novel that leaves a powerful impact on the reader
Faber Blog, Indie Bookshop Recommendations
About the Book
A powerfully poignant tale of one of the most turbulent moments in Scotland's history: the North Berwick Witch Trials.
IT’S THE 4TH OF DECEMBER 1591.
On this, the last night of her life, in a prison cell several floors below Edinburgh’s High Street, convicted witch Geillis Duncan receives a mysterious visitor – Iris, who says she comes from a future where women are still persecuted for who they are and what they believe.
As the hours pass and dawn approaches, Geillis recounts the circumstances of her arrest, brutal torture, confession and trial, while Iris offers support, solace – and the tantalising prospect of escape.
Hex is a visceral depiction of what happens when a society is consumed by fear and superstition, exploring how the terrible force of a king’s violent crusade against ordinary women can still be felt, right up to the present day.
'This series has already produced two works of note and distinction. It raises the question – if a country cannot re-tell its history, will it be stuck forever in aspic and condemned to be nothing more than a shortbread tin illustration? Hex and Rizzio are showing the way towards a reckoning, and about time too’ – Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday
Jenni Fagan is a poet, novelist and screenwriter, and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Jenni was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists after the publication of her debut novel, The Panopticon, which was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the James Tait Black Prize. Her adaptation of The Panopticon was staged by the National Theatre of Scotland to great acclaim. The Sunlight Pilgrims, her second novel, was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Encore Award and the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award, and saw her win Scottish Author of the Year at the Herald Culture Awards. In 2022, Polygon published her most recent novel, Hex, and The Bone Library, a new poetry collection written during her time as a Writer in Residence at the Dick Vet Bone Library.
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