Dead Leaves – Kealan Patrick Burke
Reviewed by Steve Stred
This is my second collection of short stories I’ve read from KPB and it just so happens to also be the other collection of seasonal themed horror stories that he’s released. The first was Dead of Winter and that focused on snow filled horror around the Christmas season. As you can gather from the title and the cover, this is a collection focused on the time of year horror lovers embrace; Halloween.
I don’t think I can really add anything towards why Kealan is simply stunning as a writer. He’s won a Bram Stoker, continually puts out top notch content and is one of the most engaging writers out there across a number of different platforms.
But what I will say is this – if you haven’t read any of Kealan’s releases yet, it’s time to change that. I’ve often found short story collections are a fantastic way to see if you’ll enjoy a writer you’re not familiar with, because it removes the fear of commitment. The fear of buying a 500 page novel and then finding out it’s not for you. Short story collections are quick bursts of energy and can really gauge if the writers voice jives with your readers ear.
Dead Leaves covers all of the spooky grounds you would expect in a Halloween based collection. Ghosts, ghouls and creeps abound and Burke weaves the stories at his will. One thing I find infuriating with his stories (in the best way possible) is that Burke chooses each word so perfectly that you’ll reread the passages several times and feel the darkness crawl deeper into you each time.
One story from this release I’d love to point out is actually the last story. The eight before it are all stellar and top notch, but I found everything about “The One Night of the Year” unnerving. The man without a family, now just him and his dog. He sits and waits for ‘them’ to come out of his corn field, on that one night of the year. It gave me goose bumps it was so good and I actually read it a second time.
If you love Kealan already, this is a fantastic addition to your already large collection. (Come on, we all know nobody who enjoys KPB only has one of his books!)
If you’re new to KPB this would be a fantastic jumping in spot before checking out his other releases.
This is a win-win for new fans and prior ones as well!
Star Rating (out of 5): 4.5*
Strange text messages portend a strange kind of apocalypse…
Two brothers find themselves drawn to the only house in the neighborhood not decorated for Halloween…
A man returns to his hometown to bury his overbearing mother, and finds more than memories awaiting him in the shadows of his childhood home…
A young girl walks a lonely country road, recalling a rhyme that brings with it memories of death…
A teenager hoping for romance gets more than he bargained for when the object of his desire introduces him to the object of hers…
An aging millionaire awakes buried in a cheap coffin with only a lamp and a bell for company…
The son of a woman accused of being a witch accepts the villagers’ peace offering at her funeral, but all is not quite as it seems…
A woman with a violent past realizes that this year’s Halloween party may be coming for her…
and a lonely trick-or-treater awakes in a house rumored to be a place of death.
Steve has a new book out will ALL PROCEEDs going to charity!
Steve Stred is an up-an-coming Dark Horror author. Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick.
Steve also has a number of works on the go and enjoys all this horror, occult, supernatural and paranormal.
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
You can visit Steve’s Official Website here