Kealan Partick Burke... Now, where do you place this writer in the grand scheme of literature labels? While reading Underneath, I found myself asking this question more than once.
For a suprisingly short novella, Underneath packs in an incredibly dark story of vanity, reputation, peer pressure, bullying, guilt, destruction and manipulation. When the high school bully Freddy dares Dean to ask out the "scarred girl" Stephanie - who has facial burns from a fire - he does so only to avoid another beating so severe he "pees blood". As the date gets closer, Dean tries to get himself out of it, but is too much of a coward to admit the truth to Stephanie and hurt her feelings, and can't face the thought of another beating at the hands of Freddy.
Sat in the car with Stephanie on the Peer, Dean begins to see the girl that exists beneath the scars, and warms to her. Things swiftly move from one thing to the next... until the unthinkable happens. Freddy crashes the date in violent and humiliating fashion, leaving Dean with scars he will never be able to see past.
This book is currently FREE on Kindle, from Amazon - but be warned. The book comes with a clearly stated warning of violence and stong language... which leads me to the question: What kind of writer is Kealan Patrick Burke, exactly?
A high school setting would automatically assume itself YA status - until the violence of the story steps in, in a very adult manner... But this violence is directly related to teenage issues, so is it adult? The story's themes are adult, and the heaviness of the concepts of guilt and helplessness aren't that common to the YA genre, but when they are eminating from teenagers in direct response to "relationships" and "bullying", does this change things?
When reading Underneath, I came to a conclusion by the end: Kealan Patrick Burke wants to f*** with your head. If you're an adult, he wants you to worry about what your kids might be reading. If you're a teenager, he wants you to question yourself, and the good person you thought you were. After all, you chose to read this.
There is nothing "nice" about this book. There is no happy ending, the conclusion has an eerie lingering question you can't quite grasp, it's horrific in most ways. It's horror writing, and it's good horror writing - but do not be fooled by it's YA elements. It is probably anything BUT what you're expecting.
I have read Kealan Patrick Burke before (The Turtle Boy), and I would read more of his novels. I like the fact that he is so unpredicatable and it can't be denied that he has talent for gripping short stories that are truely dark at their very heart. I would not, however, recommend him. I think his stories have the ability to offend a good many people - and while I'm ok with being horrified, I won't make that decision for others.
Read at your own risk! haha
book cheap creepy dark fiction free free books genre horror Kealan Patrick Burke kindle novel review the turtle boy Underneath writer YA
Underneath - review
Emma is a designer living in Bristol, UK. A self-confessed stationery addict, book lover and TV sci-fi geek, she enjoys sketching zombie-eyed women and finding her next source of inspiration in the pages on the bookshelf.