Below: Kev Harrison
Reviewed By Steve Stred
The second novella I’ve read from Kev Harrison, ‘Below’ was a highly anticipated read for myself the moment I saw the announcement news.
I’ve quickly become a fan of Kev as both a writer and a champion of the Horror Community. He’s always supporting myself, Kendall Reviews and a myriad of other fantastic authors and review sites, but also knowing just how awesome of a writer he is, he’s a must-read author already at this point.
With ‘Below,’ I was curious to see what he would do with a confined space story. His previous novella ‘The Balance’ was set in a forested community, but holding tension when the set pieces are restricted can sometimes be the toughest task. I was confident in Harrison being able to do so, but how effectively?
What I liked: The story follows Nick, a man who has looked up to his grandfather his entire life. His grandfather was hailed as a hero when the mine he was working in collapsed some fifty years ago. So, armed with a social media star and a camera person, Nick films his return to the site and their re-entry into the mine, which hasn’t been reopened since that fateful collapse.
This book bristles with nervous tension. Short, snappy chapters propel it along and you desperately want to know what is going on. Even when odd things happen (an example – clanging metal from within when that sound shouldn’t be possible) and the characters seemingly shrug it off, I found myself pushing that aside, because I frantically NEEDED to know what was going to happen.
I really enjoyed the three characters that make up the main cast. Each one was introduced briefly, but we came to really understand them and care for them in a short time, and it was also nice to see that the producer/Hollywood TV man was a caring individual. When things take a turn, we don’t get a section where he berates the people and tells them to push on and keep filming, instead, we get someone who devises a plan to help them to safety.
What I didn’t like: For a short book with such quick chapters, nothing really happens until about the 75% mark and even by that point you’ve pretty much figured out the what and the who. Not that it diminishes Nick and his story any, in fact, it really drives a lot of the impact home, but when dealing with a short page count, I was expecting the main action moment earlier followed by a survival tale taking up most of the back half.
Why you should buy this: Harrison really seems to have found his command of delivering eerie tales that nestle nicely in the novella-length form. Between his folklore tellings of ‘The Balance’ and now his biblical-infused subterranean piece ‘Below’ we’re getting some fantastic dark fiction.
If you’re wanting to read something that’ll make you feel claustrophobic and on the verge of hyperventilating, look no further.
Nick has revered his grandfather his entire life. The absent hero, his namesake, buried alive in his final act of courage an ocean and thousands of miles away.
Jess has outgrown her status as an all-action social media celebrity and the endless demands that come with it. Adventure Travel TV has thrown this unlikely duo together, promising Jess the launchpad she craves and Nick the chance to tell his grandfather’s story first-hand, in the newly uncovered mine that still holds his remains from the twilight days of the gold rush.
Is it a dream come true or a nightmare as someone or something stirs…BELOW.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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