“The Ex Hex” Warns Not To Mix Vodka and Witchcraft

What? They didn’t say anything about mixing rum and witchcraft (Photo by the author)

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If you spend a few moments scrolling the #bookstagram tag on Instagram, it’s hard to miss Erin Sterling’s The Ex Hex.

This book is a central feature next to pumpThis book is a central feature next to pumpkins, ghosts, witch hats, and other spooky décor, and it feels as if nearly everyone is reading this Book of the Month pick. And yes, I’m one of them.

Promotional materials tout The Ex Hex as “Hocus Pocus, but they bang,” promising a delightful (and steamy) modern love story set amidst a little magical mayhem. 

The basic setup is that at 17, our heroine, Vivienne (Vivi for short) had a little too much vodka and put a hex on the man who broke her heart, Rhys Penhallow. This didn’t appear to have much effect, at least not until he set foot in the town of Graves Glen once more and suddenly, bad luck becomes his middle name.

Vivi and Rhys must team up — and fight their still very real attraction to one another — to break the curse and save Graves Glen, with a nice Halloween / Samhain deadline because, you know, spooky season. 

I really, really wanted to love this book. I mean, what’s not to love about a witchy rom com set in a Salem-esque city?

Well, for me anyway, there’s the matter of a second-chance romance, which has never been my favorite trope. I generally consider myself the forgiving type, but if the reason for a couple’s break up is that someone was a dickbag (Vivi’s cousin’s nickname for Rhys), it’s a real uphill battle for me to get on board. 

That was strike one for me, and it’s nothing against the writing itself, more of a personal preference. I decided not to let this deter me, however.

I dove in, only to discover this book commits a second sin against my personal preferences — it’s written in alternating perspectives, flipping between Vivi and Rhys as we watch them fight the curse and their feelings. This is the going trend in romance these days, so I can’t really hold that against this book specifically. 

Except that being in Rhys’ head did not make me want to forgive him, even if it let me understand why he did what he’d done. At the end of the day, I just didn’t find him likeable. Which, again, probably comes down to personal preference. The hero was just not my cup of tea, potion-spiked or not. 

The final reason this didn’t become a new favorite for me is that some of the side characters felt a bit thinly drawn, such as the caricature of a warlock that is Simon Penhallow, and a certain other side character who seems to wink into and out of existence entirely for plot. 

I would’ve liked to see Rhys’ father humanized a bit, rather than being a gothic stereotype of a man, and wish the other character had been hinted towards or brought in earlier rather than materializing and serving their entire purpose in the span of a couple chapters. 

These big barriers to true book love aside, there was a lot that I enjoyed about The Ex Hex. 

The humor is spot-on, and I think the Hocus Pocus comp is a fair one, as the book has the right mix of goofy and spooky. The ways in which magic goes wrong are entertaining, while having some higher stakes to make breaking the curse feel important, as well, which I thought was nicely balanced. 

I also really liked how Sterling chose to resolve the major conflict of the book, but won’t go into too much detail about that in case you want to find out for yourself. 

If this had been a different kind of love story set in this town with these witches (but not, perhaps, this love interest), I think it would easily top my list of all-time favorites. I really enjoyed the small witch college town vibe and the humor throughout. I just ultimately never came around on Dickbag Penhallow, and thus, couldn’t really root for the Happily Ever After, which is, in my opinion, basically the point of reading a romance. 

I’d recommend this for fans of Practical Magic, Hocus Pocus, and second-chance romances. Also good for Gilmore Girls fans on Team Logan, I would bet, for the combo of small town and men I would personally never root for as endgame. 

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4 thoughts on ““The Ex Hex” Warns Not To Mix Vodka and Witchcraft

  1. I have seen this book so many times on social media. It does seem that nearly everyone is reading it.
    It does sound like a fun book. Such a shame you didn’t love it x

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