I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.by Kealan Patrick Burke
Published by Amazon Digital Services on November 13, 2015
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Psychological Horror
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At first glance, Phil Pendleton and his son Adam are just an ordinary father and son, no different from any other. They take walks in the park together, visit county fairs, museums, and zoos, and eat together overlooking the lake. Some might say the father is a little too accommodating given the lack of discipline when the child loses his temper in public. Some might say he spoils his son by allowing him to eat candy whenever he wants and set his own bedtimes. Some might say that such leniency is starting to take its toll on the father, given how his health has declined.
What no one knows is that Phil is a prisoner, and that up until a few weeks ago and a chance encounter at a grocery store, he had never seen the child before in his life.
The story SOUR CANDY, by Kealan Patrick Burke, is perhaps the best psychological horror novella that I have read, to date, in 2015!
Phil Pendleton is a man living a happy life with his girlfriend, Lori, when an innocent encounter with a woman and boy at Walmart send him spiraling into near mental insanity. On the way home, a fender-bender begins to show Phil just how MUCH has changed. . . Suddenly, Phil finds the boy from the store at his home,and everyone around informing him that this is his son, Adam.
“In a situation in which every rational person is telling you a fact and you’re the one who denies it, doesn’t that make you the one most likely wrong?”
From that moment on, Phil finds himself in the midst of a Twilight Zone nightmare, where escape is not an option. “He felt trapped in a bizarre otherworld in which everything was crooked, but the harder he fought to extricate himself, the more tangled he became.”
Burke effortlessly controls the circumstances of Pendleton’s new “life”, even bringing in some Lovecraftian themes. The emotional and mental torment Phil goes through, I found more chilling in nature than any sort of “physical” torture. We see first hand the slowly diminishing control that he retains on his sanity, and begin to wonder that if he were able to extract himself from this sham of an existence, would he ever be able to truly “live” again.
Even with the way Phil’s resolve slowly weakens into an almost acceptance of his situation, I was shocked at the casual tone in which Burke presents the following statement: “Four months to the day he first encountered the boy at Walmart, the last of Phil Pendleton’s teeth fell out.”
Rather than minimize the horror, the blandly stated fact really intensified the fear, anguish and horror that I felt. Kealan Patrick Burke is able to masterfully manipulate the reader’s emotions with such apparent ease. This is a quality I feel that make his books so effective, and so memorable.
There is no question that I will be eagerly reading everything that Burke puts into print!