Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke

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I’ve been going on a journey recently with regards to Kealan Patrick Burke’s books, and boy what a journey it is turning out to be.

Steve Stred who had read and advanced copy of my novella Juniper and kindly offered me a quote to use in the publicity of it mentioned that my writing reminded him of Mr. Burke – so I did what anyone would do and decided to check him out, and so I purchased a great many of his works. Boy what a compliment to be compared to Kealan Patrick Burke as his writing and ideas are off the chain – and any comparisons made to such a fine horror writer are greatly appreciated (thanks Steve)!

So, on with the show.

Sour Candy is a tremendously dark and disturbing beast of a book. It’s full of great imagery and scope, and above all of this has a fascinatingly ugly story which grips the reader around the throat and throttles them into submission. It’s dark, terrifically weird and a complete mind fuck – just how I like my novellas!

Our protagonist finds himself witness to a strange incident, which is the catalyst of the story, the ground zero if you would – an event that seems just a run of the mill parent child encounter in the local supermarket. But what he doesn’t realise is the importance of the encounter, the darkness that is brewing, until its too late an has leeched itself onto him and his subconscious and begins slowly sucking the very marrow from his bones and his sanity from his mind. 

What I love about this tale is that it is set in the ordinary, set in the observations and opinions that we make so freely – but Burke quickly switches this from the ordinary to the extraordinary in the blink of an eye, but instead of this being jarring or confusing, you can’t help but believe the events that are unfolding and transpiring as you read – it’s maddening and I loved it. 

Burke creates an eerie, unnerving tale which creeps under your skin and attaches itself to your soul like a parasite. The way in which he handles the material and weaves the darkness so assuredly, ensures that he has you exactly where he wants you – under his dark spell, and he’s not going to let you get away unscathed. 

If creepy goings on are what you are after, a novella that moves at break neck speed and with horror and unrelenting tension flowing through the pages then look no further than this delightfully peculiar tale.

Believe me when I tell you it’s a very original take on Invasion of the Body Snatchers and when you next see a child screaming uncontrollably in the sweet aisle and their mother staring blankly into space, make sure you head directly to the exit, whatever you do, do not engage!

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery   

Kealan Patrick Burke

Born and raised in a small harbor town in the south of Ireland, Kealan Patrick Burke knew from a very early age that he was going to be a horror writer. The combination of an ancient locale, a horror-loving mother, and a family full of storytellers, made it inevitable that he would end up telling stories for a living. Since those formative years, he has written five novels, over a hundred short stories, six collections, and edited four acclaimed anthologies. In 2004, he was honored with the Bram Stoker Award for his novella The Turtle Boy.

Kealan has worked as a waiter, a drama teacher, a mapmaker, a security guard, an assembly-line worker at Apple Computers, a salesman (for a day), a bartender, landscape gardener, vocalist in a rock band, curriculum content editor, fiction editor at Gothic.net, and, most recently, a fraud investigator.

When not writing, Kealan designs book covers through his company Elderlemon Design.

A number of his books have been optioned for film.

He is represented by Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House and Kassie Evashevski at Anonymous Content.

He lives in Ohio with a Scooby Doo lookalike rescue named Red.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

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