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Jack & Jill by Kealan Patrick Burke
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Jack & Jill (edition 2017)

by Kealan Patrick Burke (Author)

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Member:jess_reads_books
Title:Jack & Jill
Authors:Kealan Patrick Burke (Author)
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2017), 104 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Jack & Jill by Kealan Patrick Burke

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In order to escape the brutal reality of their childhood, Gillian and John would visit the local cemetery by their church every Sunday. Perhaps an odd place to frequent, but they had their reasons. Here they would pretend to be Jack and Jill. They would roll down the large hill that separated the cemetery and the elementary school. Pretending to be Jack and Jill was an escape from the abuse they were facing in their father’s hands. This fantasy world brought them comfort until the day that John tragically died.

Gillian is all grown up now with a husband and two children. She is trying to make a normal life for herself, but recently the nightmares about her childhood and her father have gotten worse. The overwhelming fear from these nightmares, the feeling that someone is stalking her. A shadowy figure with their head wrapped in a plastic bag haunts her every move. The terror has become so real that these dreams have transitioned into hallucinations. Can Gillian gather the strength to fight back or will she ultimately succumb to the monster of her nightmares?

Coming in at under 100 pages, JACK & JILL packs a literary punch! This novella is dark and focuses on the sensitive subject of child sexual abuse. Despite this cringeworthy topic, this story is very readable. The pages reveal a look into Gillian’s adult world and the nightmares that haunt her, as well as the hallucinations that these nightmares have transformed into. She is consumed by her past to the point of being unable to sleep at night, hold a job, and know what is happening in her family. I’m not usually a fan of ambiguous, did that or didn’t that happen endings, but I was surprisingly happy with this one. There were definitely a lot of questions for me when I finished reading, but I think that’s ultimately what made me love the story. JACK & JILL is a read that is impactful no matter what the truth to the story ultimately is. Kealan Patrick Burke is an absolute mastermind novella writer and I can’t wait to pick up another! ( )
  jess_reads_books | Aug 13, 2018 |
I once believed that a good book had to be a long book. You know, over five hundred pages; up around there. This mindset came from a near-constant diet of King and McCammon, Straub and early Koontz. Then I stumbled upon the likes of Rick Hautala, Scott Nicholson, Jack Ketchum, and, most recently (last year, to be exact), Kealan Patrick Burke. Sure, a few of their books are longer, but I believe that their best work is well under the 500 page mark. Kealan Patrick Burke's JACK & JILL feels like a full-length novel. The character development is on point. The descent into madness is vacuum-like, sucking you down into the belly of the piece, and, once you're there, you'll want to dig deeper and scrabble to get out all at the same time.

JACK & JILL is quintessential horror. Burke pulls no punches. The dream sequences alone are worth the price of admission. Burke managed to create a monster so terrifying that I might swear off cellophane ANYTHING for a while. I can still hear the crinkling plastic.

The book touches on such tragedies as the death of a sibling, child molestation, and mental illness. If you cringed at the mention of any of those things, you might want to skip this book. This is, hand down, Burke's darkest story yet.

Now, about the ending. You might become unglued. You might just scream at your Kindle. Kealan Patrick Burke is a dark magician, highly-skilled in sleight-of-hand. He'll make you believe that quarter's been behind your ear the entire time. ( )
  Edward.Lorn | Feb 13, 2015 |
Kealan Patrick Burke has that rare ability only few good authors have and that is the ability to shock and surprise an unexpected reader. Jack and Jill is not an easy read and the complete antithesis of the rather bland and simple title. Gillian has been abused as a child by her father and this story is her quest for answers and salvation....to this end she decides to visit her father in the hope that by facing that which has gone before she may find some peace in her present life with her husband Chris and her children Jenny and Sam. The writing and the tension when the father and daughter meet is unbearable and for me KPB has described better than any author I know, the hatred and indeed twisted love that still exists, and the open wounds that will never heal. If this was not enough there are some shocking revelations...."He touches me, Mummy" and with those four words Gillian's nightmare has returned. When husband Chris seeks forgiveness "I've done something I'm not proud of, honey" the readers is taken on a last roller coaster ride to a conclusion that is brutal and sudden in its execution. This is brilliant writing from a true master of his art, a dark and twisted tale that will leave you breathless for more. ( )
  runner56 | Mar 6, 2014 |
Review copy

This is a review I posted on my blog when I read an advance copy earlier in 2013...

I've just finished reading an advance copy of a new novella to be released at the end of 2013. If you're a fan of Kealan Patrick Burke or of Cemetery Dance Publishers you may have already ordered the limited edition, signed, hard cover of this one. If you missed that window, don't despair, Jack & Jill will also be available as an e-book, probably in December.

The story starts with a dream, a nightmare really. Gillian is a wife and mother of two. She and her brother John were victims growing up. Her brother is long gone and all of those events weigh heavy on her mind, even after all these years. When they were young, they would often spend time rolling down a hill together. "Though my brother's name is John, and mine is Gillian, between us we are Jack and Jill. It is a fantasy, an escape, a secret identity no one can touch, further strengthened by this weekly ritual."

Jillian's two children are about the same ages as she and her brother John were in those days. Sam is nine and Jenny is fourteen. Maybe that's contributing to the dreams...nightmares.

For the most part, the horror in Jack & Jill is mental stuff as we watch Gillian's slow descent into madness or is that really the case, perhaps what Gillian perceive's is reality. Either way, Burke does an excellent job of walking the fine line between the two, leaving much to the reader's imagination and personal bias.

The author has posted the first chapter of Jack & Jill at his website, www.kealanpatrickburke.com, and has graciously allowed me to re-post that chapter here. Enjoy.

ONE

A sky-spittle speck of rain hits my cheek. My heartbeat thunders in my ears, competing with the hollow sound of my own breath bellowing in and out of my lungs.

I tell myself this is why I can’t hear John.

Gradually, I roll over on my side. I look at the school. The windows are black, neither reflecting the world nor showing what might exist within. I feel a vague tightening in my gut at the thought that soon it will consume us. To the right, I note that the man is gone. Further right, John is sprawled on his back, arms splayed out as he too stares up at the sky.

Unsteadily, I get to my feet, black sparks pulsing in my vision. I fear I might be sick, but close my eyes and allow the last of the disorientation to pass.

“You win,” I call to John, because even though I’m not sure which one of us reached the bottom first, it is safe to assume it wasn’t me. Besides, there is no competition here. There never is. I love John more than anything else in the world. Alone, the events we’ve been forced to endure would have destroyed us. Together, we can find solace in a world that seems to shun it.

There is blood on the grass.

I stop walking as more rain pats my face, not yet able to fully register the long thin shadow that edges its way into my periphery as the man I thought was gone reappears.

The blood, an odd color, more like bad movie blood than anything I have seen in real life, forms a thick wide ragged carpet leading from halfway down the hill to where John lays unmoving three feet away.

The man waits, in no hurry for me to discover his handiwork, and I am in no hurry to look upon him. I know who he is.

“John?”

I step closer to my brother.

Ferocious agony locks my chest and I drop to my knees in grief. I’ve been here before, though the horror never gets old. I know all too well the pattern of this malignant dream and my throat closes, trapping a scream. My breath catches. I try to close my eyes, and find that I can’t.

The stump of John’s neck paints the grass crimson.

My heart crashes against my ribs. Bile fills my mouth.

Fear and terror turn to rage, as I finally look to my right, to the thing awaiting my attention. I do all of this because it has been rehearsed, practiced a thousand times over twenty-odd years of dreams.

The man is tall and thin, and though a clear plastic bag has been wrapped tightly around his badly decomposed head, I recognize his face.

It is my father, and his mouth is wide open, filled with maggots that tumble free only to be trapped again in the folds of the bag. They move languidly against the plastic.

He is wearing a funeral suit stained with dirt. His white shirt and bare feet are spotted with my brother’s blood.

I weep and bring my hands up to cover my eyes, but they too are made of plastic and hide nothing. Certainly not the gruesome gleeful bobbing of my father’s suffocated head, nor the senseless fact that he has rusted clothes hangers for hands. Like a fish, John’s head has been hooked through the roof of the mouth on one of them. His handsome little face now looks like a poor imitation, absent in death of everything that made it beautiful in life.

Finally the scream escapes, a train of utter anguish that plunges free into the cold air. It is mimicked by a peal of thunder as the sky splits and the rain falls in sheets that have more weight than is natural. I am soaked in an instant. Rising from my knees feels like I am struggling to stand underwater.

The plastic bag turns a foggy gray as hurried, excited breath obscures my father’s face. Behind and above him, darkness rushes across the gravestones, creeping down the hill like spilled oil.

He raises the unburdened clothes hanger to show it to me and I hear his voice inside my head. Such a good girl. Do you remember how it felt to have it inside you? Twisting? Turning? It takes guts to know, and I know your guts. Such a good girl.

* * *

If you'd like to read more from Kealan Patrick Burke. I can highly recommend his novel, Kin, the highly successful Timothy Quinn series and my personal favorite, Currency of Souls.

Note: Jack & Jill is now available as an ebook at Amazon.com. ( )
  FrankErrington | Jan 2, 2014 |
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