The Hides

The Hides - Kealan Patrick Burke In my opinion there are only two authors currently producing dependable horror fiction; two authors who hit the mark every single time: Joe Hill and Kealan Patrick Burke. I grew up reading King and Koontz, but Stephen King's endings have been lackluster as of late, and Dean Koontz has completely lost his knack. Hill has yet to let me down, while Burke makes me utterly sick with envy. I've read numerous stories from Burke and enjoyed every one of them, whether they be full-length novels, novellas, or shorts. Every single one has been four-star reads or above. His characterization is brilliant, making even the most sickening characters sympathetic (KIN). His monsters are the stuff of which fever dreams are made (THE TENT), and his plots are twistier than an amusement park ride, and just as terrifyingly entertaining (JACK & JILL). He can be dark, funny, poignant, or flat out disgusting; basically everything a horror fan looks for in their fiction.

Like many of Burke's fans, I found him through his novella, THE TURTLE BOY, and instantly fell in love with his ability to tell a story. It would be over a year before I jumped back into the series, though, and I regret that wholeheartedly.

THE HIDES has one of the best openings I've ever read in a book. The prologue can almost be read as a standalone short story, as it has a full tale to be told, and one shocker of a twist.

The middle of the book is Burke doing what Burke does best: character interaction. Timmy's conversation with the librarian stands out the most. Yes, the scene is really nothing more than exposition, but Burke tackles it through realistic dialogue. He made a town's history interesting; something that usually bores me to tears. I enjoyed Timmy's back and forth with his father, as well, especially the scene where they share a smoke.

Now on to the meat of THE HIDES. This book is scary. The spirits that pop up are notable, and will stay with you long after you're done reading the scenes in which they appear. The hanged man really got to me, as did the woman clinging to the buoy. If you're looking for nightmares, seek no further.

Finally, the ending. I picked up THE HIDES because I'd just been disappointed by another book (STEELHEART) and was surprised to find the action I missed there present inside the pages of THE HIDES. There's a very clear image in my head as I type this of a woman blasting from the water and coming down like a boulder atop an ambulance. But even before that, there's the reveal of the titular monster. This part really shocked me, as I had no idea The Hides was going to be the, so to speak, boss battle. Burke's monstrosities never fail to chill me, but this big baddie had me wetting my Superman undieroos in fear for Timmy's life. I do believe I'll refrain from wearing leather anything for a while.

In summation, read everything Kealan Patrick Burke writes. Like, yesterday.