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HEX by Jenni Fagan
Edinburgh, 1591. Geillis Duncan sits in a dank underground cell on the last night of her life. At only fifteen, she has been convicted of witchcraft and will hang at dawn. As Geillis bides her time, she hears an unfamiliar voice. It is Iris, a young woman from the distant future (2021), visiting her in seance, lending both ear and shoulder, so that Geillis should not spend her final hours alone.
Drawing from the historical record of the North Berwick witch trials, Hex is a brilliantly unforgiving interrogation of institutionalised male violence and the disturbingly similar ways in which it has been inflicted on the bodies of women through the ages. It is mostly Geillis’s story - of becoming a pawn in her boss’s plot to disinherit his powerful sister-in-law, of the horrific sexual torture to which she is subjected so that she will confess, of the guilt of accusation made at her most degraded moment. Iris listens, but she too has suffered at the hands of men. In their shared experience there is solace and grace, dignity and defiance; a reclaiming of power, if not of life.
Poetic, formally innovative, and wonderfully odd, Hex damns as it burns. Incendiary.
Hex by Jenni Fagan