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.BLANKY by Kealan Patrick Burke
Also by this author: , , ,
on September 12, 2017
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Psychological Horror
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In the wake of his infant daughter's tragic death, Steve Brannigan is struggling to keep himself together. Estranged from his wife, who refuses to be inside the house where the unthinkable happened, and unable to work, he seeks solace in an endless parade of old sitcoms and a bottle of bourbon.
Until one night he hears a sound from his daughter's old room, a room now stripped bare of anything that identified it as hers...except for her security blanket, affectionately known as Blanky.
Blanky, old and frayed, with its antiquated patchwork of badly sewn rabbits with black button eyes, who appear to be staring at the viewer...
Blanky, purchased from a strange old man at an antique stall selling "BABY CLOSE" at a discount.
The presence of Blanky in his dead daughter's room heralds nothing short of an unspeakable nightmare that threatens to take away what little light remains in Steve's shattered world.
Because his daughter loved Blanky so much, he buried her with it.
A new novella from the Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of SOUR CANDY and KIN.
BLANKY, by Kealan Patrick Burke, is an emotional, literary work of art–nothing less than I’d expect from this veteran storyteller! While the title may seem innocent enough, the cover clearly shouts out an eerie malevolence, giving the reader a sense of unease just as they are about to turn to that first page.
“You say you can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a child. Let me make it easy for you. It’s the beginning of the end of your world.”
Stephen is struggling with the recent loss of his infant daughter, Robin. His wife, Lexi, has “temporarily” moved in with her parents in order to grieve alone.
“. . . everyone has lost someone, and nobody knows how to cope . . .”
The sense of overwhelming loss immediately permeates the reader’s senses. We endure Stephen’s loss of his child, his wife, the normalcy and routine that his life once had, and even his own will and convictions.
“. . . Self-preservation is an amazing thing. It can make fighters of the fallen . . . but it can’t last forever . . . When you’re beaten, sometimes it’s best just to stop struggling and embrace the end . . . “
The darkness of this novella was impossible to dispel–yet at the same time, I found myself perversely not wanting it to end. The words Burke uses evoke the feelings with such certainty and fluency that they are simply magical on a page.
“. . . Losing someone makes you lose yourself . . . “
Stephen’s depression is compounded further by the physical distance between he and his wife. With Lexi choosing to grieve on her own, she is, in effect, blocking out her husband as well, citing the memories of their house–“. . . The house where we became us . . . “–as too painful for her.
As usual, Burke nails overwhelmingly, not only the atmosphere and tension of this tale, but also that of the characterization of all of the individuals involved. The heartfelt meaning of this story is unequivocally natural human emotions and how some try to go on after a horrific loss. The prose is simply . . . perfect . . . at conveying the exact thoughts and feelings you would honestly find in a situation like this.
“. . . All these moments, even the less pleasant ones, are snapshots we can never replace once they’re lost, and it leaves us wishing for just the slightest glimpse of them if it means we can feel whole again. If it means we can pretend just for an instant that we’re still alive . . . “
There are times, too, of optimism, of “maybe they will be able to move on”. Unquestionably, Burke is a master when it comes to the human psyche, and his words are able to effortlessly guide the reader along the paths he wishes to show us.
However, there is much more to this story than that.
Before little Robin’s birth, Lexi had procured for her a strange baby blanket at a vendor’s market. The seller, an old man with a misspelled sign that read “Baby Close”. At first, nothing appeared “off” with Blanky, and Lexi even went as far as to say it was the infant’s favorite toy.
When Stephen later thinks he hears a noise coming from the now-empty nursery upstairs, he goes in to find Blanky now lying on the otherwise bare floor. A tangible part of his departed daughter’s life, he and Lexi are soon wrapped up in happy memories of their baby girl.
Slowly though, sinister thoughts and dreams begin to plague Stephen each day and night. He couldn’t voice the problem that nagged at him, but once accepted, he couldn’t “pretend” otherwise.
“. . . We should never have seen Blanky again. Because we buried her with it . . . “
With this, the story instantly crosses over into psychological horror. We’ve passed from the logical emotive side of things, and gone into a realm where anything is possible, where nothing can be predicted with any amount of certainty. Yet Burke is able to seamlessly weld these two worlds together, making them inseparable to both Stephen and the reader as the nightmarish journey continues.
“. . . the edges of the world can cut you . . .”
When the reality you count on can no longer be trusted, do you surrender your sanity, or fight back no matter how unlikely the result may be?
“. . . Blanky had come home . . . “
BLANKY is another spectacular tale from Kealan Patrick Burke. This is a story that is rich with “real” characters, poignant emotions, and that darker side which can truly take your imagination . . . anywhere. Few authors can make a story work as well as this one.
About 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.