Ginger Nuts of Horror
By Tony Jones
“Blanky” will have you throwing away your kid’s favourite blanket for good!
“Blanky” is a tremendously effective novella you’ll devour in and around two to three hours. Maybe even one sitting, that’s a Ginger Nuts of Horror guarantee. After reading a couple of excellent reviews on other sites I had high hopes that this introduction to the work of Kealan Patrick Burke who has published many novels and novellas since 2005 would be worthwhile. Those other reviews were bang on the money and I will most definitely be dipping into his back-catalogue again soon. Do post some tips if you’re a fan of this author.
“You say you can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a child. Let me
make it easy for you. It’s the beginning of the end of your world.”
The novella opens with a brutal few pages, charged with emotion including the fantastic sentence quoted directly above. This opening sequence will totally suck you in and keep you totally enthralled until the equally brutal and very clever ending. Narrated by Stephen, he reveals that he and his wife are recovering from the cot-death of their baby girl Robin. In the aftermath of their loss Lexi has since left him and returned to live with her parents, no longer able to live in a house full of memories of where she lost her nine-month-old child.
First up I’m going to give minimal details on the plot, as I don’t want to spoil what is a real beauty. The death of the child is handled so powerfully, Stephen’s pain soaks into your psyche as he constantly reflects upon his daughter’s brief nine-month life. Picking up the plot several months after the death Stephen is struggling to return to his job as a teacher, drowns himself nightly in the bottle, reliving happier moments with his family, and hopes his estranged wife will return to him. Although he narrates the story it is clear he is in a very bad way.
After another night of drowning his sorrows he goes into Robin’s room, most of the baby’s stuff is gone, boxed up and stored away and it is a room he rarely visits. The couple emptying the room is another powerful flashback scene. However, after hearing a weird thumping noise coming from her upstairs bedroom, he finds himself in her room and sees a blanket lying on the ground near the window. Not knowing how it got there, he initially thinks squirrels must have dragged it out of storage or it has been blown out of a cupboard or overlooked in some other way. Realising it was Robin’s blanket, her favourite blanket, in his drunken stupor it gives him an excuse to phone his wife. He tells her he has found “blanky” which she thought was lost. She recognises the blanket straight away and comes to his house to pick it up and a lost connection to her daughter. And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot.
I’ve read so many fantastic horror novellas in the last couple of years, and “Blanky” is right up there with the best of them. Stephen is such a brilliant and convincing narrator he’ll quickly suck you into his family tragedy which escalates beautifully as he collapses. There are some terrific scenes of dread, some of which are particularly cinematic and recalled great J-Horror films “Ring” and in particular “Dark Water” and that’s a major compliment. Once “Blanky” has set the scene, it really picks up pace and starts to rock and roll quickly, with terrific tension, set pieces, developing into a powerful character driven story motivated by grief. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster and don’t forget that ending. Fabulous.
In the wake of his infant daughter's tragic death, Steve Brannigan is struggling to keep himself together. Estranged from his wife, who refuses to be inside the house where the unthinkable happened, and unable to work, he seeks solace in an endless parade of old sitcoms and a bottle of bourbon.
Until one night he hears a sound from his daughter's old room, a room now stripped bare of anything that identified it as hers...except for her security blanket, affectionately known as Blanky.
Blanky, old and frayed, with its antiquated patchwork of badly sewn rabbits with black button eyes, who appear to be staring at the viewer...
Blanky, purchased from a strange old man at an antique stall selling "BABY CLOSE" at a discount.
The presence of Blanky in his dead daughter's room heralds nothing short of an unspeakable nightmare that threatens to take away what little light remains in Steve's shattered world.
Because his daughter loved Blanky so much, he buried her with it.
A new novella from the Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of SOUR CANDY and KIN.