5th November, 2019
Review: Dead Leaves by Kealan Patrick Burke (Independently Published)
Two brothers find themselves drawn to the only house in the neighborhood not decorated for Halloween…A man returns to his hometown to bury his overbearing mother, and finds more than memories awaiting him in the shadows of his childhood home…A young girl walks a lonely country road, recalling a rhyme that brings with it memories of death… Two brothers find themselves drawn to the only house in the neighborhood not decorated for Halloween…A man returns to his hometown to bury his overbearing mother, and finds more than memories awaiting him in the shadows of his childhood home…A young girl walks a lonely country road, recalling a rhyme that brings with it memories of death…A teenager hoping for romance gets more than he bargained for when the object of his desire introduces him to the object of hers…An aging millionaire awakes buried in a cheap coffin with only a lamp and a bell for company…The son of a woman accused of being a witch accepts the villagers' peace offering at her funeral, but all is not quite as it seems…A woman with a violent past realizes that this year's Halloween party may be coming for her…And a lonely trick-or-treater awakes in a house rumored to be a place of death.
Wow! I'm usually not a huge fan of short stories but Burke's collection blew me away. I read this on Halloween as part of All Hallow's Read and was so mesmerised that I finished the book in one sitting, accompanied by a glass of mulled wine.
Burke's writing reminds me of the early Stephen King. Some of his stories are just a bit eerie, others are terrifying and yet others will simply break your heart. I particularly liked the story about the two brothers and the one about the girl in the abandoned house (category: heart-breakers) as well as the tale about the millionaire (category: pure horror - I was getting heart palpitations while reading, but then I'm a bit claustrophobic). But really, they were all great and well-executed. Burke just knows how to make his readers' skin break out in goosebumps. Still, despite all the creepiness the author never loses sight of his characters' humanity (or what's left of it) and all tales have an intense level of empathy to them. The author clearly is a master builder of atmosphere and tension with all stories leaving a lot up to the imagination, which is amazing as what's happening in your mind afterwards is sometimes way scarier than if it had been said explicitly on the page.
Dead Leaves is a wonderfully creepy little collection of stories and a perfect read for autumn. I'll definitely check out other works by the author and cannot recommend this one enough.
Rating: 5/5 stars
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