Secret Faces: Thirteen Tales of Terror

Title:  Secret Faces: Thirteen Tales of Terror
Author: Kealan Patrick Burke
Synopsis: “If you are hiding from yourself, don’t expect anyone else to see you.”
Everyone has a secret. Everyone is someone else when the world isn't looking. Sometimes that person is good, sometimes that person is not. In Bram Stoker Award-winning author Kealan Patrick Burke's latest terrifying collection of short stories, you'll meet thirteen people who discover the horror of what happens when those secret faces are removed and the true darkness that dwells within us all is unleashed.
Publisher:  Self Published
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

From the first line of the introduction, Kealan captured my heart.  I am a sucker for authors that communicate via "Dear Reader" stemming from my love of Jane Eyre and I am not too badass to admit it. Introducing us to many authors and short story collections, Kealan Patrick Burke stokes the fire under an otherwise snuffed out flame of my short fiction enjoyment. He doesn't just make me want to read it, when I have been so reluctant in the past, but he makes me want to love it. Thank you for that, Sir.

A ghost story with a heartbreaking twist, my soul cracked a bit with this one. 

More crime than horror, Roger shows us our true selves often show up when our lives depend on it. 

The End of Us
CW: suicide
Kealan took us down the deep, dark rabbit hole of depression in the wake of a breakup.  I wept.  Coincidentally, today marks the 6 year mark of a relationship that I ended in March. I connected with Doug in ways I wasn't aware I needed to.  The emotion was real, tangible.  I could reach out to the words and feel the anguish, the guilt, the dismemberment of every single memory made and I knew this was more than a story, this was personal. Later, I read the story notes. I wept, again.

The Red Light is Blinking
CW: bullying
Like Hunger Games but only the best troll can win.

CW: domestic violence
In an Eco-dystopian post-apocalyptic world, females are our only hope. It took her 12 years, but she finally was able to avoid the punches and stand her ground. As a DV survivor, the sentiments of the main character rung true and genuine. Just remember, you are not alone and help is out there. ♥️

I'm Not There
Am I a vampire? 
Am I a ghost? 
How annoying would it be to put in contacts if you couldn't see your reflection? 

I'm Not There begs the question, are you present in your own life? 

Memory Lane
Losing my sense of self has to be up there on "most terrified of" lists. Memory loss and brain fog happen to be a side effect of a life saving medication I have to take.  I conquer my difficulty by constantly using my brain.  I read 8+ hours a day, do complicated puzzles, write and edit stuff, and constantly try to learn new things.  If I was to wake up one day and suddenly didn't now who I was, I'm not sure I would want to stick around to make new memories. 

I am not afraid to fly, or of terminals, but I am afraid of people touching me, so Kealan's deserted terminal sounds like Heaven. Until it wasn't. 

Forced Entry
The beginning of this story threw me.  I was so disconnected and lost that I was unsure if this was really written by Kealan.  And then the ending established it was definitely written by Kealan.

The Quiet
As a parent/caregiver to 7 children, I often fantasize about people losing their ability to speak.  If someone could invent a mute button for voices, that would be great.  However, on the other hand, I am a talker.  If you have ever had the joy of being in a conversation or DM with me, you know I will talk until I am told not to. (PS You can tell me to shh, I don't get offended) Communication has to have balance. There needs to be a give and take, a listen and speak. In this eerie tale, we explore the consequences of that imbalance. 

The One Night of the Year
A Halloween story! This story gave off a creepy Jeepers Creepers vibe. 

Written as a text/IM exchange, Kealan accurately describes the pigsty women trudge through on the regular. 

This story made me want to "Spring Clean" in September.  Everything must go! Marie Kondo who? But seriously, some of the best descriptive passages I have read are in these 13 pages. I could feel the weight of the trash entering my "bubble". I am going to go wash my hands.

Story Notes
I love these.  Every author should follow suit and include story notes.  These short paragraphs give the reader a more well-rounded experience of your work.  Once we understand your motives and can confirm (or deny) our thoughts the emotional connection solidifies. I especially connected with the bullying essay KPB included and the small glimpse into his personal life. 

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