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Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

A review by Nalini Haynes

Never mix magic and vodka. Especially not curses. A young woman just learnt that the love of her life – or, at least, her love of that summer – is betrothed. She and a dear friend play at hexing the creep. When the candle flame burns ridiculously high, it’s a hint that maybe, just maybe, their pretend ex hex became real.

Over the years, Vivienne (the jilted one) occasionally cyber stalks Rhys Penhallow. His life seems rich and full, so she assumes the curse didn’t take.

Then Rhys returns to her town, Graves Glen, for a 25-year renewal of the ley lines (?!) under cover of a founders’ day ceremony. Once within town boundaries, Rhys’s life goes to shit.

But, although Vivienne specifically included not being able to locate the clitoris in the curse, Rhys has no problem with that specific task.

Loose ends

Rhys and Vivienne broke up because Rhys told her, after 3 months of sex, that he was betrothed. He planned to return to his home in Wales to break off the betrothal to stay with Vivi.

Weirdly, Rhys never explains the significance of betrothal to witches. Vivi interrupts him but they don’t return to the subject. Neither does he explain what happened with his betrothed or his father on the topic, although it’s safe to assume his father was pissed off. When his father, Simon, is currently angry with his son, he doesn’t refer to the broken betrothal either. It just seems… irrelevant? Although it seemed to have been important when Rhys and Vivi broke up.

Small town tropes

I’ve read a few different books/series recently with the small town trope; specifically small *magical* town. Who knew it was such a popular trope?

I guess my experience living in small towns ruined me. I’m a city girl or give me actual BUSH (“bush” in this context is forest, untainted nature/wilderness. Why this use of language? I’m AUSTRALIAN).

However, I’ve reached the point in my “mature” (har har) old age that I appreciate the small town tropes while simultaneously shuddering. IMO there’s more than a tad horror here… Think of the Stepford Wives but combine that with a small town and EVERYONE knowing – or thinking they know – everyone else’s business.

The verdict

Never do magic OR ANYTHING ELSE while under the influence of vodka or any other mind altering drug (except maybe caffeine?) is an excellent lesson too.

Safe sex is a theme here. In a recent book someone basically says “It’s ok you don’t have a condom, I’m on the pill”; this is NOT a positive example of safe sex. I’m glad to say The Ex Hex is sex positive AND safe sex positive.

Overall, the Ex Hex is a fun romp with sexytimes, small town magical community tropes and safe sex. I highly recommend.

I read this novel because it was recommended by some of the SFWA romance writers.

Book details

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9780063027473
ISBN10: 006302747X
Imprint: Avon (HarperCollins)
Released: 2021
Format: I read the ebook, which has 320 pages
Category: romance, romantic comedy, fantasy

The Ex Hex bookcover: a man and woman fly past the moon on a broomstick

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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