Saturday, 3 February 2018

Book Review: Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke

Phil Pendleton and his son Adam have a typical father-son relationship, although perhaps Phil is a bit too lenient with Adam - he is allowed to set his own bedtime, eat as much candy as he wants. However, what no one knows is that until a few weeks previous Phil had never seen the child before in his life.

"Four months to the day he first encountered the boy at Walmart, the last of Phil Pendleton's teeth fell out."

It blows my mind how Burke manages to pack so much into such a small number of pages. I THINK Burke might just be the King of Novellas – this is an official title and I’m coining it for him. Having read Blanky and Kin towards the end of last year, I was pretty excited to read Sour Candy as I am a huge fan of both Burke's writing and his ability to tell horror stories that are unique and memorable. And Sour Candy does not disappoint.

From the very first page, Burke manages to build this palpable sense of dread and it remains throughout the entirety of the story. I mean, a screaming child in a store is everyone's worst nightmare, but when that same strange kid (who is creepily dressed) shows up in your house acting like he's your son... shit gets even scarier. His photo is on your wall, there are photos of you together on your Facebook... it really is enough to send shivers down your spine. It's like some kind of weird, fucked-up Twilight Zone. And it's brilliant! Is this actually happening or has our protagonist lost his mind? The decline of his mental and physical health is terrifying, giving rise to an incredible psychological horror story. I also love how, like King, Burke generally writes about relatively normal everyday people, and places them into extraordinary situations.

The introduction of the elders really enhances the creep factor, and the disturbingly haunting cover will start to make a lot more sense. However, once again, Burke leaves me wanting more! I want to know more about the elders, more about Adam's previous "parents", just more, more, more! There isn't much more I can say other than I loved, loved, loved it! Burke deserves all the praise he gets, and he is very quickly becoming one of my favourite horror authors. Pick up a copy if you want to develop a lifelong aversion to sour candy... 5 stars!


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