Author: B.E. Balfinny
Published: November 2017 by Oakwood Press
Category: Supernatural, Thriller, Horror, Book Review
When freelance writer Kate Murray’s Great Aunt bequeaths her a cottage in remote south Kerry, she is overcome with the peace and beauty of the little stone house. Set high up a hillside overlooking the ocean, even David, her architect husband, falls in love with it.
The short first chapter telling of an old woman gathering items together before leaving the house to complete a task she wasn’t looking forward to, but something that had to be done, is a great hook and gives the immediate sense that something untoward is in the offing.
As the only living relative, Dubliner Kate Murray has inherited her great aunt’s cottage in Westcove, County Kerry. Kate couldn’t believe her luck and she and her husband David were on their way to see what state the old cottage was in. Pleasantly surprised to find it liveable, and with a spectacular backdrop, they set about settling in. Kate wanted to swap city for country living and hoped she could persuade David, then Kate could live her dream.
She turned to him and followed his gaze. He had his back to the front of the cottage and was staring out over the front garden to the view beyond. Her breath caught. How had she not noticed that a minute ago? The view was stunning. The hillside plunged out of sight below the end of the front garden but there was an uninterrupted view over the lower land along the coast and out to sea. A shard of sunlight sliced through the cloud-crowded sky and fell on the rock-strewn pasture, the purple crags of the shore and the blue-grey sea.
Kate’s enthusiasm and feeling for the cottage is clear and it does seem idyllic. Even Dave seems to be coming round to the idea of living there. While exploring their immediate vicinity, they have a strange encounter with the old woman who lives in the last cottage at the end of their lane. She does her best to make sure they keep their distance and stay away from that end of the lane. Kate and Dave learn a little more about the old woman from the proprietress of the village shop when they go to stock up on supplies. Kate’s curiosity is aroused when she learns there’s a stone circle on the hill past the old woman’s cottage. Old Fingal’s Rocks. One evening, as she finds the gap in the hedge leading up the hill to the standing stones, Kate has no idea of the danger and the nightmare that will be unleashed after her visit.
Written in the third person, the narrative flows well and is easy to read. B.E. Balfinny’s descriptive prose certainly conveys Kerry’s ancient and rugged beauty, as well as the atmosphere of an unforgiving, wintry and mystical landscape. The existence of the supernatural seems entirely possible and believable. The feeling of menace and evil is distinct, it gave me goosebumps. As things became more sinister Kate was either very brave or very foolish, I’d have been out of there quick smart…. although it may have already been too late. Great writing and an excellent debut. If you like supernatural horror without the gore this could be for you. I’ll be interested to see what the follow up offers.
I chose to read and review Marked for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy free on Amazon.
B. E. Balfinny lives and writes in an old stone house in the wilds of southern County Kerry, Ireland, an area steeped in myth and tradition. Here, stories are passed from parent to child and survive centuries intact, connecting the present with a dark and misty past.
Whether walking the narrow lanes at twilight, listening to tales of the unexplained around a peat fire whilst an Atlantic sou’wester rattles the windows, or wandering alone amidst the mystical ringforts and standing stones of the ancient Celts, south Kerry never fails to supply ample chilling material for students of the supernatural.
The Kerry region, its people and its folklore provided the inspiration for Balfinny’s first novel, Marked, set in the fictional south Kerry village of Westcove.
Those who enjoyed Marked should look out for the second instalment of The Kerry Horrors series, scheduled for release on Amazon in Spring 2018.