I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Balance by Kev Harrison
Published by LVP Publications on April 28, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Horror, folk horror
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When myth becomes nightmare ... The price of blood is always blood.
Natalia's in trouble. She only looked away for a second, and now her brother's hurt. Her relationship with her mother is fractured, her brother's condition is deteriorating, and her only hope lays deep in the unforgiving forest. A secret spoken only in whispers offers a way out. But when help comes in occult forms a sacrifice may be the only way to restore the balance.
Humanity and nature collide in The Balance by Kev Harrison, a modern reimagining of the Slavic folk tale of Baba Yaga, set in Cold War Poland.
The Balance epitomises everything that I love about folktale horror. It’s a story of balance, order, the coming full circle. There’s secrets at every corner, an unknown set of scales allowing harmony and control. What happens when humanity grasps for more control, more power? Will that balance tip and allow everything to come crashing all down? Time doesn’t exist whilst reading this book. Yes, you can hear it whittling down, each tick getting louder and louder until it beats furiously in your brain, making the tension all that more palpable.
The balance is a work of art.
This book crept up on me and felt like a sledgehammer on the back of my head. Where even do you begin with this story? Natalya’s 10-year-old brother injures his leg whilst climbing a tree, the fall makes him break his leg but that isn’t the most worrying part – he has a laceration that most likely will become infected, which of course it does. The local doctor heals the bone to the best of his abilities, but he has no antibiotics and pretty much no access to any. The boys condition worsens, and Natalia is in a bind…allow her brother to either lose his leg or succumb to septicaemia or seek help from a shunned member of the community. Help that lives deep in the forest.
The Balance is a story that will have goosebumps creeping up your arms. Kev Harrison has nailed his exquisitely torturous method of storytelling, something that would have fit right in on “Tales from the Crypt.” It’s referred to as a retelling of the Slavic folktale of Baba Yaga. I was completely enthralled by the prospect of a gatekeeper, if you will, keeping the balance between nature and the village. The villagers may feel threatened or frightened of her but there will come a time when you will need her influence.
They say there is always consequences for your actions, and nothing has been truer for the residents of this small Polish village. Don’t expect the secrets to be revealed at a nice steady pace, Harrison likes to give you a swift kick to the genitals where the action is concerned. Once everything becomes unravelled its like an avalanche in the alps. I won’t lie, I loved everything about it!
The Balance was utter perfection. There was nothing that didn’t work. Characterisation, worldbuilding…gah, just everything *insert chef’s kiss* I particularly enjoyed Natalia’s resilience. Despite her brother’s accident, she manned up and took responsibility, despite her mother being a complete dragon about it. Even though seeking out alternative help would land her in the shit with her mother again, she did what was best for her brother, to hell with the consequences. Harrison is an author that deserves all your trust because he can deliver. The authentic feel of the small village, frustrations and strains, the author had me from the start!
The Balance is like nothing you’ve read before, forget it all! Intense, atmospheric, and beautifully told. Harrison is a fabulous teller of stories and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
ABOUT KEV HARRISON
Kev Harrison is a writer of dark fiction and English language teacher from the UK, living and working in Lisbon, Portugal. His nomadic lifestyle has previously taken him to various cities in the United Kingdom, as well as to Turkey and Poland. He has an unquenchable thirst for travel and is passionate about food, photography, and music, as well as fiction. He is a staff writer for This is Horror and has had short fiction published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. His first novella, The Balance, will be released early in 2020, through Lycan Valley Press.