All I knew about this book before diving in was that it involved Baba Yaga. An old witch in the woods whose creepy cottage you don’t want to happen upon on your jolly ramble through the trees.
But Kev Harrison’s Bab-Yag is a very different kind of lady, and not a villain after all. Yeah she lives in the woods, but it’s her job to help maintain the balance.
The locals, however, are certainly of the persuasion that she’s an evil witch in league with the devil. When she helps a local kid with an infected broken leg on the verge of a necessary amputation, these local do-gooders are not best pleased. And that’s putting it mildly.
You see, Natalia feels responsible for her younger brother falling and breaking his leg whilst out playing one day. When the wound turns nasty and the doctor is unable to get his hands on the required antibiotics, it seems Natalia has only one choice. She doesn’t think that Baba Yaga is the monster the locals portray her to be, so she takes her bro for some natural medicine.
Cue the full-on lynch mob crazy villagers!
This novella is not a balls to the wall scare-fest, and I’m glad about that. Whilst the whole thing holds a dark vibe, it’s the story that drives it. You just know there’s something not quite right about the whole situation, and the prose grips tightly, imploring you to keep on reading.
I blasted through this in a couple of days, and couldn’t wait to find out what happened. The ending is an action packed battle with death, gnarly injuries, and a twist that I didn’t see coming.
While not pants-soilingly frightening, there are some genuine scares on offer. When nature fights back against the fire n’ fork wielding locals, there are some great descriptions of the carnage. My toes curled at one or two!
I went into this preparing to be scared by an old lady in the woods, yet ended up being right on her side. I can’t really say too much more without being a big old spoiler pants, but I’m definitely recommending this to all horror lovers, especially those with a penchant for folk horror tales.
Categories: book review