Review: Currency of Souls by Kealan Patrick Burke [audiobook]

Currency of Souls_Kealan Patrick Burke_Rich Miller.jpg
Currency of Souls
By Kealan Patrick Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My original CURRENCY OF SOULS audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

Few horror authors write as eloquently and thoughtfully as Kealan Patrick Burke, a Bram Stoker Award-winning author who carefully chooses each word that makes it onto the page for maximum impact. Textually, Currency of Souls is a fine example of Burke’s methodical deliberation, and narrator Rich Miller delivers a reading that is aurally arresting right from the get-go.

Currency of Souls is a bit of a genre mish-mash. Tonally, it feels like a modern-day western with it bar-room setting, the Sheriff, and a handful of misfits populating the near-dead town of Milestone, but there’s enough violence and death to put it solidly in the horror genre, as well as a few fantasy elements and plenty of tragedy to boot. Milestone, however, is more than your average run-down locale, and each of the barflies carries the weight of their secret sins like an albatross. This is a down of damnation, and it may or may not be Purgatory or at least some facet of it, and each of the drinkers are constantly being manipulated by darker forces to murder one another. To say much more, though, would be a crime.

Burke keeps the story moving along with plenty of twists and turns, betrayals, and double- and triple-crosses. None of the cast are quite who they appear at first blush, and Burke slowly reveals their true faces and natures in due course. The story itself is weighted in symbolism and degrees of complexity. Simply put, there is a lot going on throughout the entirety of this book. Listeners should expect to not only pay close attention to all the things being said but especially to what is left unsaid. I suspect Currency of Souls is a title that only grows more rewarding with multiple listens, and that future rereads will reveal additional previously unseen facets.

Rich Miller has a deep, brassy voice that immediately captures the atmosphere and tone of Burke’s work, perfectly in tune with the western genre elements present here. I was immediately lost in this man’s reading, lulled in by the strong, yet comforting rhythms of his narration. There’s a kind-of Sam Elliot vibe to Miller’s presentation, which I certainly dug, and the recording is crystal-clear enough that I could practically smell the smoke and whiskey stink of Eddie’s Tavern.

Currency of Souls is a bit like a good whiskey, in fact. The writing is smooth and read by Miller it leaves a pleasantly warm feeling deep in your chest, but the story itself is a complex and full-bodied spirit, possessing various layers of richness. Its narrative threads are knotty and tangled, and it takes some work to unravel before you can fully appreciate it. It’s the type of story you want to let linger a bit before you take another sip and see what else is there to discover.

[Note: Audiobook provided for review by the]

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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