I was taken off guard by just how sad this novella is, and how deeply it hit me. Steve Brannigan is a man trying to hold himself together in the weeks after his young daughter’s tragic death. He is consoling himself with whiskey and soon quits his teaching job. Newly separated from his wife, the only company he has is the silence of his empty house.
... except for the thumping coming from upstairs.
This is the first story I’ve read by Kealan Patrick Burke, but it won’t be the last. His deceptively simple prose is key to the ingenuity of this short, horrifying tale: with only a few words or phrases he filled me with deep sadness, or fear. Think of early Ray Bradbury, but meaner. Having recently gone through a tragic loss of my own, this balls-to-the-wall rumination on grief and regret hit me especially hard.
Read for ‘Witches’ in Halloween Bingo. There is a witch, of sorts, at the center of this tale, but to say more would be a spoiler.