‘The Ex Hex’: A spell-binding Halloween romance novel

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Dive into the witchy world of Graves Glen and Vivienne Jones in ‘The Ex Hex.’ (Photo courtesy of Madeline Marriott ’24)

Madeline Marriott, Assistant Arts and Culture Editor

The town of Graves Glen, G.A. boasts cascading mountains, cozy cafés and a secret population of witches.

When nineteen-year-old witch Vivienne Jones, the protagonist of Erin Sterling’s “The Ex Hex,” gets her heart broken after a whirlwind summer romance, she attempts to pick up the pieces by putting a lighthearted curse on Rhys, the man who caused her pain.

The magic wasn’t supposed to be real. Now, nine years later, Rhys is back to perform his ancestral duties as a descendant of the town’s founder, and it turns out the curse was successful, and it might be more powerful than Vivi could have imagined. Even worse, its power is not just affecting Rhys, but the whole town.

With the help of her cousin, Gwyn, and her aunt, Elaine, Vivi has to team up with Rhys to save the town from chattering skeleton toys, a library ghost and other nefarious forces that lurk beneath the surface.

There is a lot to enjoy in “The Ex Hex.” Sterling excels at building the world of Graves Glen to be a charming and complex place where humans and witches coexist peacefully. The familial bonds between Vivi, Gwyn and Elaine are tender and realistic. The banter between all of the characters, not just Rhys and Vivi, is witty and clever. 

Vivi goes on a personal journey to find out more about her family, sharpen her skills as a witch and fix past mistakes, all while still making new ones. Because Vivi is a complex, relatable female protagonist, I found myself rooting for her success. Watching Vivi’s journey and its ultimate conclusion was rewarding enough to keep me invested in the book until the end. 

Although this book is a romance, the relationship between Vivi and Rhys ended up being my least favorite part. Rhys Penhallow is certainly as charming as Sterling intended. He’s a worthy object of Vivi’s affection, and the chemistry between the pair is electric.  However, it might actually be too electric—and that is where my problems begin.

The conflict of the book is time-sensitive. Vivi and Rhys are on a quest to lift the curse before it can ruin the town’s most profitable holiday, Halloween. Despite this, Vivi and Rhys spend a significant amount of time pursuing what they both agree will be a short-lived romance. These interruptions felt odd when they were involved in a quite urgent situation. This lack of urgency slowed the plot significantly in the final third of the book and took away from what I considered to be the most interesting parts: the ghost-hunting and spell-casting of Sterling’s rich universe.

Despite its problems, “The Ex Hex” is a charming fall read. If you’re looking for something romantic to get you in the Halloween spirit, pick this one up and enter the world of Graves Glen with Vivi and Rhys.