Monday, July 22, 2013
I just met Kealan this weekend at Necon and I asked him what of his work I should start with. Since we had been discussing my interests in terms of horror he said that he thought THE TENT would appeal to me. He was dead on.
What begins as a well written character study of a man who is in the last throes of screwing up his life, slowly turns serious as the man, his wife, and young son are lost in the woods while camping. Kealan builds the tension using small details. You can feel the man's discomfort, both physical and emotional, as events spiral downward. Then, just as you're starting to think that this story is all about internal conflict, the man stumbles across something in the woods. That's all I'll say as the real terror and horror begin right there, and it turns ugly fast. And just when you think things might be winding down, it gets worse.
Now here's the other thing. Kealan can write and I don't mean just tell a story well. His prose is rich and darkly lyrical, and if that sounds odd when talking about a gruesome horror story, you'll just have to trust me or better yet, read it yourself. He's also got a very original imagination. Just when I thought I knew where he was going, he took a turn in an unexpected direction and we know how I love to be surprised.
Anyway, I'm going to go find some more of his stuff to read. I'm urging all my horror fan buddies to give Kealan Patrick Burke's THE TENT a try. In some ways it reminded me of Stephen King's early work, in content if not in style. You know, back when King was turning out those nasty little short stories that had teeth like Gray Matter, The Boogie Man, and The Raft. Good stuff.