The Turtle Boy – Kealan Patrick Burke

the turtle boy artwork

Kealan Patrick Burke is simply one of my favorite horror authors, and The Turtle Boy is the novel that put him on the map.

A Bram Stoker Award winner, Burke has published numerous horror novels, over one hundred short stories, and four collections. And if that isn’t enough, he was also a vocalist in a metal grunge band.

The Turtle Boy is Burke’s first novel, and although his writing and storytelling improved significantly with each new release (Kin may be his very best), The Turtle Boy stands the test of time as one of the great coming of age horror tales ever written. So well-received was The Turtle Boy that it served as the launching point to a five book series – The Timmy Quinn Series.


In the first book, we meet Timmy Quinn, a young boy trying to find his way through a lazy, hot summer, when he and a neighborhood friend sneak off to the old pond down the road. When they arrive, the friends discover a boy they’ve never seen before seated across the pond, bobbing his bloody foot in the water. The strange boy claims to be “feeding the turtles.”

What happens next is part ghost story, part coming of age horror, complete with serial killer overtones – a masterpiece page turner, an amazing accomplishment for a debut author. At times sad, and often scary and tense, The Turtle Boy catches your attention early and never lets go. Once you begin reading, you will have a hard time putting The Turtle Boy down, and an equally difficult time resisting the next four books in the Timmy Quinn series.

The Turtle Boy: A Dive into Darkness with Kealan Patrick Burke

In the vast realm of horror fiction, some stories linger in the mind, not just for the shivers they induce but for the introspective journeys they take us on. “The Turtle Boy” by Kealan Patrick Burke is one such tale. A novella that marks the beginning of the Timmy Quinn series, this story is not just a piece of horror fiction but a contemplative exploration of childhood, innocence, and the shadows that often lurk behind ordinary lives.

Set in the balmy heat of a summer in Delaware, “The Turtle Boy” introduces us to eleven-year-old Timmy Quinn, who stumbles upon a mysterious boy at a local pond. This boy, bereft of speech but with an unsettling penchant for drawing turtles, is the harbinger of a series of chilling events that soon envelop Timmy’s life. As the narrative unfolds, Burke masterfully oscillates between the idyllic and the macabre, crafting a tale where the line between reality and nightmare blurs. The titular “Turtle Boy” becomes a symbol of the unseen horrors and buried secrets that often hide in plain sight, and Timmy’s encounters challenge the very notion of innocence associated with childhood.

But Burke’s storytelling prowess doesn’t stop at creating a mere horror tale. He delves deep into the psyche of his characters, bringing forth a narrative rich in emotional depth. Timmy’s journey is not just about confronting external horrors, but also about navigating the complex terrains of grief, loss, and understanding. The pond, which serves as the story’s focal point, transforms into a mirror reflecting the darker aspects of human nature and the burdens of the past. By intertwining the personal with the supernatural, Burke ensures that “The Turtle Boy” stands out as a story that is as haunting as it is poignant.

turtle boy kealan patrick burke

“The Turtle Boy” by Kealan Patrick Burke is more than just a horror novella. It’s a multi-layered narrative that challenges our perceptions of childhood, forcing us to confront the uncomfortable truth that darkness often resides where we least expect it. With its intricate blend of horror and introspection, the story is a testament to Burke’s ability to weave tales that linger long after the last page is turned.

Kealan Patrick Burke

Kealan Patrick Burke, born in Dungarvan, Ireland, stands as one of the most distinctive voices in modern horror and dark fiction. The landscapes and myths of his homeland deeply influence his stories, providing a unique backdrop against which he weaves tales of personal and supernatural horror. Burke’s journey into the world of literature wasn’t a straightforward one, but the challenges and experiences he encountered along the way only enriched his narrative voice.

From an early age, Burke demonstrated a proclivity for storytelling. Growing up in Ireland, he was surrounded by tales of folklore, ghosts, and the supernatural, a cultural treasure trove that would later become a cornerstone of his works. However, it wasn’t until his move to the United States in the late 1990s that he began to seriously pursue writing as a profession. The shift to a new country and culture, while challenging, offered Burke a broader canvas on which to explore themes of displacement, identity, and the universality of fear.

horror stories collection

Throughout his career, Burke has showcased an impressive range, from short stories to novels, earning him a reputation for both prolificacy and versatility. His accolades, which include the Bram Stoker Award, bear testimony to his skill and the profound impact he’s had on the horror genre. Beyond his writing, Burke’s influence extends to the realm of design. As a cover artist, he has crafted evocative visuals for numerous books, further establishing his multi-faceted presence in the literary world. From the shores of Ireland to the global stage of horror fiction, Kealan Patrick Burke’s journey begins with his talent, tenacity, and the timeless allure of a well-told tale.

Kealan Patrick Burke’s talent in the horror and dark fiction genre has not gone unnoticed in the literary community. A crowning achievement in his illustrious career was when he secured the prestigious Bram Stoker Award, given by the Horror Writers Association.

This recognition, bestowed upon works that stand out in the horror genre, highlighted Burke’s prowess and distinctive voice, solidifying his position among the modern greats of horror fiction. Winning such a coveted award not only amplified his reputation but also served as an acknowledgment of his ability to craft narratives that are both chilling and profoundly human. As with many esteemed authors, such awards are not just accolades but symbols of the deep connection they’ve managed to forge with their readers through the power of storytelling.

I may be biased when it comes to Kealan (full disclosure – Kealan Patrick Burke is the amazing artist who designed most of my covers, including my Dark Vanishings series), but I recommend The Turtle Boy to anyone who loves coming of age horror, like Stephen King’s The Body (Stand By Me).

Oh, and if you are looking for a great deal, The Turtle Boy is currently available for FREE.

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