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Saturday, December 23, 2017

REVIEW: Jack & Jill by Kealan Patrick Burke @kealanburke

Jack & Jill
by Kealan Patrick Burke


Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

My Review:

So normally novellas and short stories don't hit me as hard as a standard book would.  Not in this case.  First of all, it's Kealan Patrick Burke - I read his horror novel, Kin, and immediately knew I had to read more of his work.  When I saw him posting about this novella, based on the nursery rhyme (kind of), and in a darker, more horrific way, I could NOT pass it up!

I loved Gillian and her brother (the Jack to her Jill), John's ritual of tumbling down a hill as an escape from the abuse they received at the hands of their father.  Flash forward to the future and we find that John has passed away.  While Gillian has moved forward in her life, basically disowning her father, getting married and having two children, she cannot leave the past behind  It has a tenuous hold on her, its tendrils grabbing onto her soul.  Her nightmares intensify as she relives her brother's death and soon it starts to appear in her real life.  Is she going insane?  Soon she doesn't know what's real and what's not.  

For a quick read, this one really packs a punch.  It's dark, gritty and a look at how sometimes your nightmares are all too real.  Burke knows how to bring full on horror to his descriptions.  The chapters where she's dreaming, or even when she's hallucinating, are cringe worthy in the best possible way.  

Now, the subject matter may not be for everyone.  And the ending may have some of you scratching your everything.  Personally, I loved it.  I was satisfied and didn't need all the answers.  When something is written this way and it's done right, then I'm happy to let my imagination take me in any direction I want.


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