One of my favorite ways to relax is to read. Many people would say that horror books would be the opposite way to relax but I would disagree, there’s something about reading a truly terrifying novel that helps in calming my anxieties of the day and putting me at ease. However, finding quality horror books can be a struggle at times, and though I’m still constantly on the hunt for the next scariest book, I’ve managed to compile a list of truly talented horror authors that I know I can turn to. One of those author, Kealan Patrick Burke, has managed to create stories that send shivers down my spine and his latest novella, BLANKY, is no different.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this book, as it focuses on a husband and wife who have lost a child and the fractures it has caused in their marriage. As someone who hasn’t been married nor has kids, I assumed that the story would be one that I couldn’t relate with. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This story is much more than the supernatural horrors or the rise and fall of a marriage, but a study on how we handle traumatic events, how others perceive us during those times, and the consequences from our actions following said events.
BLANKY tells the story of Steve Brannigan, a father who has just lost his infant daughter and is watching his marriage crumble before his eyes. Stuck in a cycle of paralyzing despair, he has begun to seek solace through alcohol and television, barely making an effort to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. One evening, he hears a sound from his daughter’s room and discovers her old blanky, with badly sewn rabbits still intact, on the ground of the empty space. Initially the blanket brings good luck and promise of a fresh start but that is quickly shattered when he realizes the malevolence that encompasses it as well as the realization that he buried his daughter with this exact blanky.
What I loved so much about this story is that from the beginning there is an air of despair. Sure, that might sound depressing, but I like when my stories have a degree of authenticity to them. Steve Brannigan is a man who has lost a child, something that no parent should ever have to go through, and Kealan crafts a realistic narrative of a man on the brink of self-destruction. It’s hard for his story to not pull on your heartstrings and though you know something much more sinister is in store for this character, you still feel a pang in your heart for what he’s going through. I can’t say that I can relate to what Steve Brannigan has gone through but I do know what it’s like to feel empty inside, and because of this it allowed me to sympathize with him.
In terms of horror, this novella is filled to the brim and though it’s subtle in its approach, it leaves just as much of a lasting impression. I enjoyed the build up of suspense and tension as I put together the puzzle pieces of what was actually unfolding as well as the supernatural elements that come into play soon after the reveal of blanky. This story isn’t one that needs to rely on the use of gore to shock the reader, and though there is one scene in particular that is quite disturbing, it’s presented in a descriptive way through Kealan’s superb writing so that he doesn’t need to fall back on overused tropes to convey what he’s saying.
Overall, BLANKY is a creepy novella that slithers into your brain and never unlatches till long after the story is finished. Kealan once again shows how talented of a writer he is and is able to bring to life a tale that is more than just a superficial horror story, but one that also has a lot of heart and anguish. With a surprise twist and an ending left up to interpretation, BLANKY is a novella that will be talked about for quite some time by all those who have read it. If you are looking for a wicked story to keep you up at night, then do yourself a favor and pick up BLANKY immediately.