Balm of Gilead
Aaron Lebold
Independently published (April 5, 2024)
Reviewed by Nora B. Peevy

If presented with a magical balm that could cure you of a fatal disease, what would you do? Would you do anything to get it? This is the question that faces Ryan, ex military in the Middle East, when he meets Omar. Omar shows him the Balm of Gilead and offers him a deal. Cure his ALS for the head of his enemy, Khaled, but is Khaled the enemy or is Omar? Is the Balm of Gilead a blessing or a curse? When Ryan calls on his old military buds to go on a mission to collect the head of Omar’s enemy, he is convinced it will be an easy mission, but they soon learn there is more to the story. Who is evil and who is good or are there only shades of grey in this story?

This tale is a fast one. It doesn’t take much time to read, but it does make one think about the powers that drive man’s ego and what it means to be a human and alive. One of my favorite comical scenes is when a character has his head cut off and continues to repeatedly run into a wall. Lebold puts a creative spin on zombies in this book.

Aaron Lebold describes himself on Goodreads as “an author of psychological horror, sometimes dabbling in extreme elements.” This sums up Balm of Gilead well. Being a youth worker and an addictions counselor also influences his work. Omar is a character who is addicted to power and the Balm of Gilead at all costs. He is an incredibly angry man. Lebold says in an interview with Nedia Aria on August 7, 2023, “The concept of anger and the damage it can do are the same if you yell at someone or cut their head off. Decapitation is a louder statement than raising your voice … I try to look at everyday emotions and amplify them in a way that they are hard to ignore.” I think Aaron Lebold more than succeeds at this in Balm of Gilead.

If looking for other books to read from this author, you can find his complete list on Goodreads. He has penned Born Sick, Genocide, Pennyroyal Tea, The Sheriff of Salem, Quarantine, other novels, and novellas, and has appeared in more than one anthology as well as The Horror Zine. He’s been writing since 2017 and his novel Born Sick won second place in the Godless 666 awards for Best Novel of 2022.

About Nora B. Peevy

Nora B. Peevy is a cat trapped in a human’s body. Please send help or tuna. She toils away for JournalStone and Trepidatio Publishing as a submissions reader, is a co-editor for Alien Sun Press, the newest reviewer for Hellnotes, and has been published by Eighth Tower Press, Weird Fiction Quarterly, and other places. Usually, you can find her on Facebook asking for help escaping from her human body or to get tuna. Tuna is nice. Cats like tuna.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This