Thursday, October 5, 2017

Blanky, by Kealan Patrick Burke

 "The gift that keeps on living..."

 I first encountered Kealan Patrick Burke's writing with his novella, THE TURTLE BOY, which was published well over a decade ago. It was a staggering piece of fiction by a bold new voice, and Burke earned a Bram Stoker award for that exceptional novella. In the years since, Burke has quietly built a catalog of outstanding novels, novellas, and short stories, and he's edited a few excellent anthologies as well. He has been nothing if not dependable: If his name appears on the cover, you're going in for an eloquently creepy story. His latest novella, BLANKY, is no exception.

 Burke's quiet meditation on the pain of loss and the overwhelming power of grief centers around Steve Brannigan, a man who has had his life turned upside-down by the devastating loss of his infant daughter, Robin. Abandoned by his grieving wife, unable to work due to his crippling sadness, Steve exists alone, both in his pain and in the house where his child died. Finally mustering his courage to face up to Robin's death, Steve is startled when he goes into her empty bedroom and finds her blanket on the floor. The blanket that they buried with her.....

 As a father of two, a story like this would be a tough read no matter what, but Burke's beautifully understated prose was like a scalpel being wielded on my brain; He poked and probed at the fears that all parents have, and the results are both heartbreaking and devastating. I've been beating the drum for him for over thirteen years, and I'll say it again: Kealan Patrick Burke is the real deal. he never disappoints.

 BLANKY earns a creepy 8 out of 10 sinister babies: