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Side by Side Book Review: THE BALANCE by Kev Harrison

THE BALANCE by Kev Harrison
Richelle's Review:

When I said horror is tough but teaches us lessons, this is what I meant. This book started from page one made me feel the dread of what’s to come. The character connection is immediate and you can’t help but feel for the characters. I got folklore and grief horror from this one. I’ve never heard of Baba Yaga so I had no idea what to expect but I was definitely pleased with the results. 

Here is a snippet of the story: When myth becomes nightmare… The Price of blood is alway blood. Natalia is in trouble. Her brother gets hurt under her watch and his condition is worsening. The church and local doctors are no help with the mounting snow so she seeks out help in the unforgiving forest. 

“𝙀𝙫𝙚𝙣 𝙎𝙖𝙩𝙖𝙣 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙜𝙪𝙞𝙨𝙚𝙨 𝙝𝙞𝙢𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛 𝙖𝙨 𝙖𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙜𝙚𝙡 𝙤𝙛 𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩.”

The town that is built around this story is small with the Catholic Church in its prime. Religion in books always seems to give me the creeps. It terrifies me when people follow a leader blindly. No if, and  or buts because god will smite you or something. Maybe even a lightning bolt will come down to strike us. I really enjoyed the instant connection I had for this story but also the grief weighed on my heart the whole time. I loved Natalia as the main character. She is a strong, fierce little girl who will do anything to make things right. My mind took me places and tried to predict the future of where this book would take me. While I could predict the ending, I couldn’t predict the journey we would take to get there. I gave this one 4 ⭐️


Amanda's Review:
I admit that I haven't read a lot of folk horror, but this book may very well make me seek out some more from the sub-genre. The story gave me some serious Brother Grimm vibes (you know, the type of cautionary children's story that may just be a tad too dark for children). I was totally digging it. There was this whole fairy tale'esque atmosphere, while also keeping with a Cold War Poland setting. What Kev Harrison did with this book was magical. ⁣
The Slavic folk tale of Baba Yaga is reimagined in the tale of a sister, Natalia, who would go to great lengths to help her brother, Kuba. Her devotion to her brother leads her deep into the forest, against her mother's wishes, to visit the "witch" in search of healing for her brother's injured leg. Sadly, Natalia and Kuba quickly learn that everything has a price, and Kuba's healing sets in motion a series of events that disrupt the balance of nature. ⁣
The sibling bond was done really well, and it was evident that Natalia had a very kind heart, especially when it came to protecting her brother. However, much of her existence was wrapped up in her relationship with her brother, to the point where I couldn't really pinpoint who SHE was. Also, the synopsis indicated that the book was set in Cold War Poland, but I think more detail could have been used to further immerse readers in that setting. Through much of the book, I felt as if it could have been happening in any Old World European village. ⁣
4.5/5- Overall, The Balance was a beautifully written tale. I always love a book with some underlying value beyond the surface narrative. Harrison explored the concept that everything is connected and that the world needs balance to thrive. Harrison's very accessible writing propelled the narrative as a great one sitting read. The ending was one that I found to be really powerful and surprising. I would TOTALLY recommend this to both horror lovers and non horror fanatics alike. There are certainly some pretty horrific scenes, but this story transcends the genre confines and will resonate with many types of readers. ⁣
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Sadie's Review:
Every so often, I’ll download something to my Kindle I’m really excited about so I’ll read the first couple of pages to ‘see what happens’. I don’t mean what happens in the book--I mean, what happens to me; to my reader’s heart. Will the story urge me to go on past those first few pages?
It’s an exciting experiment that I love trying out. THE BALANCE by Kev Harrison is just over one hundred pages so I figured, if I get sucked in, I could probably just breeze through it in an hour or so, and guess what? That’s exactly what happened.

Fans of horror featuring witches, folklore, and a well-paced story are going to want to buy this for their Autumnal/Halloween reading list. I can’t think of a better book to binge-read on Halloween night. Imagine a little village set in Cold War Poland. A sixteen-year-old girl and her ten-year-old brother live with their mother. Out in the woods, tragedy strikes. With a depleted, emergency health care situation, the children turn to alternative medicine. All of the events that happen after this single, life-altering event, set into motion ‘The Balance’.

I am in awe of Kev Harrison’s storytelling voice. My reading experience took me back to the days when I would read out of Grimm’s Fairytales to my little sisters. A re-imagined tale of Baba Yaga for a modern generation of horror readers. This was captivating, unputdownable, and deliciously suspenseful. I had to know what was going to happen. My reader’s heart was one hundred percent emotionally invested. Again, horror lovers looking for the perfect Halloween read, this is your book.
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