I was recently introduced to Kealan Patrick Burke by a fellow bookstagrammer and horror enthusiast, the fabulous Sadie Hartmann (aka Mother Horror) and I am so glad I did. Dead of Winter, a collection of Burke’s short stories and his latest release, felt like a good place to start, plus the cover is epic.
The collection starts of with Snowmen, a tale told from the perspective of a young boy haunted by shadowy figures in his backyard. This story is perfectly creepy, staying with you long after you finish the final word and it is not only the perfect start to this collection but it’s also my personal favourite. From there, it takes a festive twist and of course, I use that term in an ironic way. Story number two is Doomsday Father Christmas, a truly depressing take on our consumer driven Christmas and the with that you are dragged further into the cold, dead winter by Burke. Next up, we have Black Static, a short, sharp punch to the gut from the perspective of a man resentful of having to care for his father through deteriorating mental and physical health. This is followed by Visitation rights, a story about a divorced father during a resentment filled visitation with his two daughters. This is one of those stories you end up reading again immediately after finishing because you can’t quite believe what happened. Home depicts a panicked father, worried when his wife and daughter do not return during a particularly harsh winter’s day. This one is genuinely emotional and honestly a little heart breaking. The Quiet depicts a now paraplegic man contemplating his life and the tragic events which led him to that point. This story really demonstrates Burke’s writing ability and is quite frankly, short story perfection. It’s another tear jerker, touching on some truly emotive topics. Last up, They Know and wow, what a finale. This is horror at its best and you will continue thinking about it long after you close the book. It’s one of those stories which takes you one way before dragging you screaming the other way. It reminds me of the movie Phantoms (if you haven’t seen it, watch it immediately) and is just as creepy!
Overall, this is a truly chilling Collection of stories which makes me want to read more of Burke’s writing. I’m giving this one 4 stars out of 5!!