Kealan Patrick Burke is an Irish author who won a Bram Stoker Award for his 2005 novella "The Turtle Boy". Along with editing anthologies, writing comics and short-stories, Burke has authored five full-length novels. I discovered the author through his novella Thirty Miles South of Dry County. It was originally published by Dark Fuse in 2016. Now, it exists in a collection called Milestone: The Collected Stories Vol. 1. It's self-published in both ebook and paperback.
Burke invites you to a place called mining community called Milestone. It's a raindrop on a rural route that few have seen...willingly. You see, Milestone is a place you visit once a lifetime after certain circumstances - dire or otherwise - have occurred. With invisible walls that seem to surround it, I felt like the town was similar to the video game/film Silent Hill. It's shrouded in fog and has mysterious forces that seem to affect people in different ways. The dead and the living call the town home.
When an elderly, dying man named Tanner finds his friends have disappeared, he makes the fifteen mile drive to Milestone. There are many reasons why he has avoided the town his entire life. Once he arrives, he sees horrific things, including a mysterious self-appointed town mayor. To Tanner's dismay, the town knows his secret. What is it?
With Thirty Miles South Of Dry County, Burke presents a vivid portrait of rural America, brush stroking with remarkable detail considering his Irish upbringing. Tanner is the embodiment of the aging small town Southern man. The town of Milestone is a macabre exhibit that's surrounded with a smooth Gothic curtain. There's mystery, suspense and menace packed into this scary short novel.
This book also irrigates previous roots sewn in Burke's novel Currency Of Souls by utilizing some of the same characters and locale. The two works are independent and compliment each other in much the same way that master storyteller Stephen King frequents Derry and Castle Rock. It is this enhancement that should satisfy long time Burke fans while still enticing newer audiences.