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The Turtle Boy by Burke – Book Review

The Turtle Boy is the first book in a series by Kealan Patrick Burke. The creepy events in the first book take place in the summer of an 11-year old boy, Timmy Quinn. Summer has just started as Burke begins us on a tale reminiscent of our own, ordinary childhood. Hot summer days are spent exploring the neighborhood with friends and looking for something to do. Timmy and his friend, Pete, head to the local pond to check it out. The pond is rumored to have large turtles living in it. On arriving at the pond, the story takes a strange twist into the bizarre as the two friends are left spooked by a strange boy they find “feeding the turtles”.

Timmy Quinn was not really sure if what they saw was real or a figment of the imagination and through the early parts of the book he tries to explain it away to himself. His childhood summer darkens with the mystery and Timmy is left anxious and curious about the boy they met. It doesn’t help that the adults in the story warn the boys about staying away from the pond without any real explanation. The originality of the strange event is what draws the reader into the story and the easy, comfortable writing style of Burke lulls the reader and contrasts sharply with the shocking, fast-paced end.

The Turtle Boy is a short volume of mystery and ghost story combined seamlessly into one. This first book is also a “coming of age” story for Timmy Quinn in a twisted and unlikely way. The volume is a simple read and at first it reads like a young adult book with a spooky atmosphere and a bit of creep factor. Near the end as events unfold, the book reverts to a fast, horrific pace as the mystery of The Turtle Boy is revealed. The change is startling and although there isn’t much graphic violence or gore, the language and subject matter no longer applies to a young adult reader.

Reading the story on the Kindle left me a bit confused. It approached an ending but the Kindle showed nearly half a volume left. It turns out there was a long preview to get the reader hooked on the next book in the series. When the story did end, it left the reader hanging and unsure of who had done what. As an introduction to a series involving Timmy Quinn, it works and many readers will want more. As a stand alone volume, I’d prefer a more satisfactory ending. The price is decent. The Turtle Boy can be downloaded to your Kindle free of charge. It’s hard to complain about a book at that price. The drawback is you would need to buy the series to really finish the story.

The Turtle Boy was not as great as I expected from the outstanding reviews, but if you go into it for a good read without such high expectations, you should enjoy this book. It did win the 2004 Bram Stoker Award and has many five star ratings. The Timmy Quinn series has four volumes which span 30 years across Timmy’s life. I plan on reading the series and will let you know how it goes.

This book is free of charge at the Kindle Store.


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