Damn, this is a tough read, but an excellent one. Kealan Patrick Burke delivers the goods once again with this harrowing story about child abuse, the scars the abuse leaves on a person, and how the scars manifest into horrific visions and nightmares.
A book needs to grab my attention from the first couple of pages, especially when it’s a novella. Burke does this with one of the best opening chapters of horror I have ever read, it’s a nightmare brought to life on the page. From here on in there are no words wasted as our small family is torn apart by grief and pain. Jack & Jill doesn’t let you settle for a moment as it continues its descent into psychological terror. Soon, the lines between what is real and what isn’t become blurred as Gillian’s life becomes more and more troubled. The dreams, the visions she sees are shockingly portrayed through vivid hallucinations, and when you add to this the fact that her marriage is in trouble, well, it’s a recipe for disaster.
I love horror in novella form and the pacing of this novella is a thing of wonder. I devoured every page with ease and despite its length, the atmosphere, tension and characterisation are wonderful. And, just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore, Burke delivers an ending that left me shaking my head in sheer disbelief. Gillian’s fragile mental state leads her down a dark path, a path on which she is unable to stray, a path that will lead her to the destruction of her own family.
Jack & Jill is an urban horror masterpiece of deeply unsettling dark fiction. The subject matter is difficult to read about, but the writing is right out of the top draw. The characters are real, they have real motivations which result in realistic behaviours. Kealan Patrick Burke’s mesmerizing novella is a must read for any horror fan. The cover art is fabulous too and it’s one of the reasons I bought it, so bravo, Mr Burke!
5/5 rusty coat hangers from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.