The Turtle Boy by Kealan Patrick Burke

Timmy Quinn is a normal boy who is enjoying a normal summer. He and his best friend Pete spend their days digging holes, exploring the local pond and spooking each other with tales of youthful tragedy. The basic ritual that most of us took for granted in our youth. Well, things change a bit when Pete and Timmy stumble upon a strange boy hanging around Myers Pond. The boy appears to be a little off- his skin sags a bit too much, his eyes have a dead quality and he also lets the turtles in the pond use his heel for breakfast. Timmy becomes fascinated with the boy and as he learns more about this mysterious Turtle Boy he uncovers the truly unsettling secrets that his neighbors have been hiding.

Kealan Patrick Burke packs a ton of story in a small space. He is able to build the story and dread with tight pacing and just enough ambiguity to keep the reader guessing. In the midst of this tense story, Burke uses Timmy as the vehicle to bring the reader back to their own youth. He establishes the character of Timmy with just enough generic childhood traits that the reader can instantly place themselves in the small shoes of the lead character. As a result, we feel a personal connection to the fear and shock that permeates through Timmy as he discovers the true origin of The Turtle Boy.

The Turtle Boy is a well-written, well-told coming of age story that leaves much of the answers open to interpretation. It really was a treat to read and I can’t wait to read the other stories in the Timmy Quinn series.