Jack & Jill: Kealan Patrick Burke
Reviewed By Steve Stred
“They turned the rocks a few days before.”
Oh, how Kealan Patrick Burke has a way of crushing a reader.
I snagged a bunch of KPB’s releases last year, really digging ‘Kin,’ ‘Blanky,’ & ‘Sour Candy,’ and loving his two collections ‘Dead Leaves’ and ‘Dead of Winter.’
The problem became – Steve has too much on his TBR. So, while I have a dozen or more of his works, I kept putting them off and putting them off. Absolutely foolish.
But – what that did do, was clear my mind from any synopsis about ‘Jack & Jill,’ and boy did I pay for that.
The story follows a husband and wife, struggling with their relationship as they drift apart. A big sticking point for them is the decline of Gillian’s mental health. She keeps reliving the death of her brother ‘John’ and the horrific childhood she had.
Now it’s causing modern-day issues and Gillian decides it’s time to confront some of her past head-on.
From here, Kealan takes you on a hellish ride filled with panic-attack inducing dreams and real-life horrors. I was squirming throughout as we get more and more of Gillian’s back story and when finally she has her face to face with a monster, utterly heartbreaking.
When all is said and done, Burke finishes it with one of the more brutal endings I’ve read it some time.
Kealan Patrick Burke is one of the best writers I’ve ever read. He’s also one of the nicest guys out there and takes the time to interact and answer questions from fellow authors, fans and friends. He leads by example – not only as a human but also as an author.
I state this just to say that if you’re not reading KPB’s stuff, you really are missing out. Time and time again he’s delivered an emotionally complex story that covers the gamut of what we know and love to be ‘horror.’
While this one will be incredibly hard for many people to read, I found it a really fascinating psychological journey and one I’m certainly glad to have taken.
‘Jack & Jill’ is another fantastic offer by an author who releases better and better works.
Outstanding stuff. Can’t recommend this or any of his works enough.
Jack & Jill
When they were kids, Gillian and John used to visit the local cemetery every Sunday after church. It was a curious place for children to frequent, but they had their reasons. The main attraction was the lofty hill that separated the cemetery from the elementary school, and the act of tumbling down it like Jack and Jill was a ritualistic escape from the abuse they were suffering at their father’s hands.
It was an escape that lasted only until John’s tragic death.
Now, Gillian is all grown up. Married with two children, she has managed over the years to force the trauma of her nightmarish childhood into the darkest recesses of her mind.
But lately there are dreams, and in them Gillian sees impossibly vivid reenactments of the horrors she endured as a child. Nightly, she sees John die all over again, only not in the way she remembers.
And something else is in those dreams, stalking her, a terrible figure with wire-hanger hands and a plastic bag wrapped around its rotten face. A monster whose reach starts to extend beyond the boundaries of sleep into the waking world, threatening everything Gillian holds dear.
A monster she once called Daddy.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
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