When I was first introduced to Kealan Patrick Burke by way of his short story in Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror, I knew immediately he was an author I would be reading more of. After checking out Sour Candy and, now, Blanky the only thing I don't know is why I haven't read more of his work. It's a personal deficiency seriously in need of correcting.
Burke goes for the emotional jugular with this one, sinking his nails in deep and ripping loose scores of entrails chockfull of feelings. This novella is drenched in loss, uncertainty, and misery. Steve is a broken man, attempting to soften his shattered soul with whiskey in the weeks following his infant daughter's death. He and his wife have temporarily separated, but he's hopeful for reconciliation, particularly after they share a tender moment following the rediscovery of their infant's favorite blanket.
Except...that blanky? Didn't they bury it with their daughter?
What follows is a seriously intense examination of heartbreaking loss, of families torn apart, and of a strange and mysterious malevolence. This book is a short but wicked sucker punch, and I think anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one will recognize the fundamental emotional truths on display here.
Burke's writing is top-notch, with a wonderful focus on its characters. There's a beautiful sort of economy at work within Burke's wordplay, and in just a few sentences he's able to get you close to tears, scare the hell out of you, and have you hoping for some kind of victory for Steve. He toys with reader's expectations every bit as much as he does with Steve, and there were a few moments that seriously shook me. Burke may be a sadistic storyteller, but when the books are this good, I don't mind reading them with masochistic glee.
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