Title: Dead Leaves: 9 Tales from the Witching Season
Author: Kealan Patrick Burke
Page Count: 129 pages
Rating: 5 / ✨✨✨✨✨
From Bram Stoker Award-winning author Kealan Patrick Burke comes the second in his series of seasonal collections. Featuring several reprints, a brand new story “The Toll”, an introduction, and rounded out by the author’s recommended reading and viewing lists for the season, DEAD LEAVES makes for the perfect autumnal read.
“Sometimes there’s enough darkness in the world without adding to it under the guise of something pretty.”
Kealan Patrick Burke is one of the more recent authors I’ve discovered through the amazing bookstagram community, and he was very quickly added to my “auto-buy authors” list – a list that consists of authors that could release anything – ANYTHING, from poetry to cookbooks – and I’d buy it and read it eagerly. The first thing I read by him was one of his novellas, ‘SOUR CANDY‘, and I immediately bought a few more ebooks by him!
With DEAD LEAVES, I’d seen it around on Instagram and Goodreads, and it looked perfect for my October TBR, so I grabbed the ebook on sale for my Kindle. Two stories into it, I knew it was something I wanted to have a physical copy of on my shelves, so I used part of my birthday book gift card and scooped it up! The spookiness of Burke’s writing lends itself perfectly to the creepiness of each story, and I found it difficult to choose a favorite – or even a couple!
There are 9 stories in total collected here, with one of them being published for the first time. The short book packs an even bigger punch than just with the great stories, too – Burke also includes an introduction, as well as a list of his recommended horror movies and books, perfect for anyone looking to broaden their viewing & reading horizons into the macabre.
I’ve included a brief description of a few of the stories I liked best below – although I started with 7 of 9 and had to keep downsizing to get here, so honestly, they’re all worth reading!
✨ How the Night Receives Them ✨
A young girl walks home alone at night, recalling words quoted by a man she hopes will meet her on her way.
The quote from the top of this review is from this one, and it’s probably my favorite in the bunch. It’s more sad than scary – although parts of it are a bit creepy – and sad stuff always gets my vote. I’m not sure why I like being sad so much, but ‘it is what it is’ and I loved this one!
✨ The Toll ✨
A ruthless businessman wakes up to find that he’s been buried alive. As he considers the decisions and people that may have led to his present situation, he doesn’t experience true fear until a twist reveals itself.
Aside from sad things, I also really enjoy being misled in my books, thinking things are one way only to have them switched up on me by the end – although I like this only if it’s done cleverly and with little hints that you can go back to and think, “AHA!”. This story definitely nails that, and I loved the old-timey voice the narrator has.
✨ The Tradition ✨
A woman finds herself wandering an old, run down house, unsure of how she got there or where her friends are. As we learn of what happened to her, the story gets increasingly spooky, leading to a satisfying climax that rounds out the collection nicely.
I think this one (as well as some others, but this one especially) would make a great episode of a TV show. It’s so atmospheric, and the narration is so jarring at points due to the girl’s confusion, that I feel like it’d look really neat if done visually.
There are plenty of other stellar stories in here – Andromeda, a tale of terror in texting; Tonight the Moon is Ours, about a creepy fairy stone in Ireland and the unsettling friends a boy visits it with; Will You Tell Them I Died Quietly?, involving a small town full of secrets, and a witch!
I’d also highly recommend checking out some of the author’s other books! See them all here.