Cover Image: Gothic

Gothic

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Member Reviews

A simple premise: "A cursed object enters a family's life and upends it." Results in a chilling horror story.

Tyson Parks is a famous horror novelist has-been who is in desperate need of a new best-selling book. His girlfriend Sarah gifts him a very expensive, gothic-looking desk for him to write his next bestseller on. As soon as he starts writing on the desk, he's sent into a dangerous writing trance. On the other side of the world, a mysterious woman is desperately seeking this desk in order to destroy it and end the evil curse attached to it. From the moment this desk entered his life a gory, violent story begins and Tyson literally cannot type fast enough.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a good psychological episode and/or descent into madness story. There were many moments where I had to put the book down in order to recompose and separate myself from the events unfolding in the book. It's this type of reaction that makes this a true horror story for me. Masterfully done Mr. Fracassi.

Thank you to NetGalley and Cemetery Dance Publications for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

4.25 stars out of 5.

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Oh boy, this one got me! I love a good psychological episode and/or descent into madness and combined with the creepy creepiness of it all, this one was a great read!

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This book will forever be stock in my mind! Atmospheric and creepy left me wanting more but this author.

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Fracassi is an incredible storyteller, able to take tropes and ideas we've seen before and make them feel totally new and fun.
No two of his novels are alike, yet distinctly his.
Gothic takes the struggling writer and cursed object tropes and spins them into something way more than that.
Looking forward to his next work.

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Now that is how you tell a story! Twisty horror thriller and a slow descent into madness? Sign me up! I found myself flipping back and forth over how I thought the main character was acting and if I agreed or disagreed. And there's just something about books about authors that always pull me in... and Philip Fracassi kept me invested the whole time. That final half was almost impossible to put down.

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Again, another winner. Fracassi had turned into an author who is must buy for me. This book had all the creepiness that I was looking for and more. I will for sure read more of his works.

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This one probably actually falls in the low 4/ high 3 range....3.8ish

Tyson Parks has been a successful horror writer for many, many years. It seems his career has already peaked though, and he is no longer interested in writing the expected same stories over and over. His publisher wants what sells, and Tyson is in a financial pickle....so he needs to deliver.

His long-time girlfriend, Sarah, loves Tyson despite his shortcomings (both in the looks department, and with his career). She decides to give him a gift of a lifetime - an antique desk that is sure to serve as a muse. She has no idea about the horribly evil past that this desktop has been a part of...and the destruction it will cause to their family.

Gothic reads like an old school horror book from the 80s....and I was here for it. It was incredibly self-aware, and I lost track of the number of King references throughout as there were so many. I don't always love when writers write about....writing. However, much like Misery and the Shining....this works. How does an author change with the times, when they are expected to stay true to their style and churn out the same hits repeatedly? How do you stay relevant with younger audiences when you are getting older?

I don't usually like trigger warnings with my horror, but I will mention that there is a particular brutal scene involving sexual violence with a strong female character, and her reaction to this violence did not ring true. I believe it was meant to show how much the desk had changed Tyson....but I don't think it was needed to go to this length. It was uncomfortable to read (as I do believe horror should be), but certainly not for everyone. Due to this scene and some other unnecessary scenes near the end of the book, my rating came down a bit.
I never thought a desk could be scary....but Fracassi pulled it off beautifully!

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DNF at 19%

To start: I am not a Horror Book Reader, I am in fact a huge chicken who was looking for some lovely creeping psychological horror as someone loses their mind in slow, vicious spirals under the influence of evil furniture. The bar is low to scare me. I love being pulled into stories, my ability to suspend disbelief is legion!

That being said, I did not have a good time here, for all reasons unrelated to me being a huge chicken about horror.

<b>writing choices:</b>

With any book, there’s going to be stylistic choices made by the author and their own particular brand of writing, plus the genre conventions. It will never work for everyone, but ideally it works for most people.

On the whole, this wasn’t horrible. I thought that there was too much extraneous information - this was especially apparent and annoying as I’d hit my fourth(!) POV at the time of my DNF, so the book was already starting to feel bogged down by this extra chaff.

The parenthetical asides - definitely unnecessary and jarring. They’re almost, <i>almost</i> fourth wall breaking at times, like I’m giving the book a suspicious side eye for daring to acknowledge my presence.


<b>characters:</b>

<u>Tyson:</u>

I hate criticizing characters because you can have deliberately awful characters who are well written! That’s <i>good</i> writing! However. <i>However,</i> if your main character is violently unlikable…maybe dial it back.

He’s already a hard sell for me to care about - oh no, poor *checks notes* struggling former multi-best selling author who spent too much money and is a middle aged white guy surrounded by people with money, woe is him. Not sympathetic. He’s also embarrassingly whiny about it. Writing is hard, writing blocks are hard, he made himself a little hole somehow (I didn’t reach a point where it was explained how he fucked this all up so badly tbh, if there is one) and is now wallowing in it. There’s only so much crying I can take.

To top this off, he has an incredibly gross and misogynistic internal monologue. Good lord, what a fucking creep. I’m rooting for the desk to eat him from page one.

<u>Sarah:</u>

I’m sorry honey, please get therapy and find a spine, you deserve better than this. Especially considering what I read in other reviews! Girl. Run. You should have run like a decade ago, evil desk or not.

<u>Diane:</u>

She never got past “vaguely interesting source of important background information” for me, and I did bail right when her magic(?) whatever was revealed. Didn’t level up enough to unlock her character.

<b>plot:</B>

MMmmhm. Plot, indeed.

The desk was just maybe arriving to ruin Tyson’s already rotted and toxic mind, so I suppose in someways the plot had just barely started. While I like some build up in my books - especially for horror! the tension, the drama, the waiting…so good! - I do need forward motion. This fell into the boring category of setup. Not enough meat there, I was stuck gnawing on toothpicks of mediocre appetizers.

But the desk! My favorite character. Unfortunately it’s appearance was marred by a grievous lack of workplace safety.

I know, I knooow it’s supposed to be <b><u>Evil Furniture Claims First Victim</u></b>, but all I could think…why was there not one, not two, but <i>three</i> goddamn workers UNDERNEATH A FORKLIFT at all?? SOMEONE CALL OSHA

So it was mostly very stupid when the evil desk caused the forklift to fail and squash a dudes leg, because I was left wondering why the fuck he was on the floor at all. What kind of business is Anton running here? Someone check his license. I hope that worker sues him for negligence.


<b>other thoughts:</b>

This does truly have the sense of being from the 70s (derogatory). If I wanted a 70’s horror novel with 70’s attitude towards women and violence, I would simply find one of those novels. This is a stale take, even as someone coming from outside the genre. I was especially displeased to learn from other reviews that this forced a rape plot line and domestic abuse apparently. I don’t trust this book to have included it in a way that is actually relevant rather than a lazy shock-horror scene, especially given how Sarah apparently handles it. Unless this is somehow a subversive masterpiece commenting on the rotted gender structures of relationships in society and how some people continue to be trapped by their perception of how people see them, that could be interesting. (it wasn’t)

On the whole, this book lacked the visceral creeping horror feeling I like to find in my horror books and movies. I was constantly yanked out by the writing decisions and my general disgust at Tyson’s entire existence.

<b>quotes!</b>

Since I have this as an ARC file, I have to manually do quotes. Behold!

<blockquote>He imagines the young, short-skirted assistant as that newborn foal. Naked and wrapped in a moist, milky casing, her slick body breaking through the membrane, those muscular legs wobbling as she tries to stand…</blockquote>

Sir, please back away from the woman. (this is just some poor receptionist living her life, not getting paid enough to deal with creeps. she’s probably not being paid enough at all in the first place, let alone to deal with this weirdo imagining her coming out of a horse. i feel so bad for her.)

<blockquote>This close, he can smell her vitality, the length of her lifespan.</blockquote>

ok freak

<blockquote>His flaccid dick slumps between his pale thighs like a frightened child hiding beneath a black bush,</blockquote>

I have read many a questionable description of dicks in my life, but this one is special. A child. His dick is a scared child. the fuck.

<blockquote>She kisses the collar of his shirt and, shit-day or not, the monkey in his pants gave a life-affirming twitch.</blockquote>

“monkey in his pants” is actually also a new one to me. congrats?



<b>Overall,</b> the true horror was the writing we read along the way.

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Fracassi's writing is rich and evocative, with a keen eye for detail and a talent for creating vivid imagery. The stories are well-crafted and immersive, drawing readers into a world of shadows and fear. The characters are well-drawn and memorable, with their own fears and flaws that make them relatable and human.

One of the standout stories in the collection is "Mandala", which tells the story of a man who becomes obsessed with a mysterious and ancient artifact. As he delves deeper into the artifact's secrets, he discovers a dark and terrifying truth that threatens to consume him. The story is both chilling and thought-provoking, exploring themes of obsession and the nature of evil.

Another notable story is "Fail-Safe", a tense and claustrophobic tale set in a Cold War-era missile silo. The story is a masterclass in building tension and suspense, with a sense of impending doom that grows more palpable with each passing moment.

Overall, "Gothic" is a fantastic collection of horror stories that will appeal to fans of gothic horror and dark fiction. Fracassi's writing is superb, and he has a talent for crafting stories that are both terrifying and thought-provoking. If you're looking for a book that will keep you up at night, "Gothic" is definitely worth checking out.

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Your enjoyment of Gothic will likely come down to your tolerance for misogyny. If I’d read this 20 years ago, I would’ve loved it—internalized misogyny’s a helluva drug. My tolerance for graphic rape scenes and nonsensical characterization for women is pretty much zero at this point.

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This was a really enjoyable and sinister read that felt a bit like an eighties throwback to horror paperback classics. I thought the author did a great job at establishing the characters in the first part of the book - I liked Tyson and Sarah and Billy and Violet, which meant that the fear that something bad would happen to them was heightened. I also appreciated the fact that Fracassi wasn't afraid to 'go there' with the plot. There is a sense of nihilism and inevitability in the narrative that works very well, along with a race against time aspect that I enjoyed. I did feel that the pacing was a bit strange in the latter stage of the novel, but other than that, I had a great time with this one.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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⭐⭐⭐⭐ -- The cover on this is perfect for this book. It gives an old school horror book feel.

Gothic by Philip Fracassi is an old-school horror novel that tells the story of Tyson Parks, a struggling horror writer who receives an antique desk from his partner, Sarah, as a birthday present.

Unbeknownst to him, the desk has been sought after for centuries by a mysterious woman who finally tracks it down to Tyson's home. As Tyson begins using the desk, he starts acting strange and his writing becomes more disturbing than ever before.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book for its spooky atmosphere and well-paced plot. The characters were intriguing, and the writing fantastic. The novel had an old school horror vibe to it that reminded me of classic films like Carrie.

Overall, Gothic was a really entertaining horror novel that I would highly recommend to any fan of the horror genre.

**ARC Via NetGalley**

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In a niche like “writer going insane” with such pop culture icons as ‘The Shining’s’ Jack Torrence to stand up to, Francassi’s ‘Gothic’ sets itself apart in this brilliant slow burn horror.

This book has so much personality that each character is truly fleshed out and feels like they could be a person you know in real life. The writing is in turns viscerally terrifying and downright funny; Francassi blends all the fun facets of old school horror, gothic fantasy, and adventure beautifully. Psychological terror and graphic violence lend a classic pulp horror vibe, and the writing is so well done that even though the character development is front loaded ‘Gothic’ is still damn near unputdownable (and I almost never say that about even my favourite books).

If you love the horror greats like Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, and Clive Baker, you will absolutely adore this book as much as I did.

Thank you so much to Philip Francassi and Cemetery Dance Publications for the opportunity to read an advanced e-galley of this amazing book in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Cemetery Dance Publications as well as the author for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
#NetGalley #CemeteryDancePublications #Gothic #PhilipFracassi

This is my first time with this author but it won’t be the last. “Gothic” was by no means perfect but it was pretty fun. “Gothic” is the story of a haunted desk that infects its owner with rage and evil. Tyson Parks is a famous has-been of a horror writer. He’s struggling to meet his deadlines and quite stressed out. He needs a new best seller and fast! His girlfriend gives him an antique writing desk for his birthday and, as he begins to use it, his behavior changes for the worse. His books begin to sell again but, at what cost?
This book has a very good story. Who doesn’t love a haunted object whether it’s a hat, a desk, or maybe a hotel? I loved the bones. I loved that the book read like an ‘80’s slasher,complete with some veiled references to the same. I loved the gore elements. The author gives an adequate description of what is going on and leaves the rest to the imagination of the reader. I love that. I loved that this book wasn’t afraid to go for the throat.
I do not love how long this book was though. It dragged out much longer than it should have. I struggled to like any of the characters also. I believe that would have helped a lot.
All in all, this book may not have been great, but it was fun.

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This was a pretty fun read overall. It feels like something out of the 90s, despite referencing current technology and all that. Unless I missed something, there did seem to be a few plot holes here and there that made certain things a little confusing. The biggest issue I had with it was that there's an event towards the end that feels like an ending, leaving the actual ending to feel a bit like a really long epilogue. Still, once you get to the actual ending, it does feel appropriate. It just drags a bit in the final like 15% or so getting there. It's a book about an evil desk, you know? If you like watching the kind of horror movies that play on daytime TV, you'll have fun.

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This was one of those books I could not put down! Characters that feel REAL (and aren't always likable!). A fun cursed object! Manipulation! And the end! And then the actual end! Omg. You just have to read it.

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An excerpt from the full review on my blog:

Tyson’s steady psychological degradation allows Fracassi the opportunity to subtly play with his prose; the rhythm of the words gradually changes as his soul crumbles. The shifts in flow and tone are incremental, but once we reach the novel’s fourth quarter they are definitely discernible. The Tyson scenes and the non-Tyson scenes in the final stretch of the book have a distinctly different vibe, presumably because the other still-living characters, while damaged, are not drunk with a supernaturally-fueled drive. Gothic may be told in the third-person, but only because the desk isn’t outright taking credit with “I” pronouns. (This wouldn’t serve the story Fracassi ostensibly set out to tell, but the desk straight-up hijacking the POV in the end would’ve been a fun lil twist in a schlockier tale.) I love when a narrative style deftly matches its protagonist’s slash antagonist’s wavelength without betraying the conceit of the text.

Now here is what I believe to be the ultimate compliment for any contemporary horror novelist: In many ways, Gothic resembles the mass market paperbacks I used to frequently stumble upon in my hometown’s public library, approximately a dozen and a half trips around the sun ago. The first one I thought of, looking at bare premise alone, was The Crib by Paul Kent, which is about… yep, you guessed it, an evil baby crib. But in terms of storyline and general presence, Gothic is more so the sort of book I could see displayed among the Dean Koontz, John Saul, and Richard Laymon titles I discovered in my youth. Several summer vacations were spent devouring such treasures.

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Gothic by Philip Fracassi. Personal entertainment value 4.5⭐️. Visceral and mean, this book packs a wallop. It reads like a modern-day-vintage horror novel. Unrelentingly dark.

At 12 I graduated to reading adult books and grandma supported the reading of anything. Gothic reminded me of the books that turned me on to horror fiction. King first, then Grant and Barker.

Gothic also reminded me of the home life I was escaping by falling into books. Gothic felt like going home again, for better and worse.

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Unfortunately this title was not for me and I did end up DNFing. I did not feel that the writing was as strong as much of the author's other work, and I didn't connect with the voice or style at all. I can see how some people would enjoy this and the concept is really cool, but the execution didn't do it for me. Once we got to some of the more triggering content, I felt it would be better suited to other readers.

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Although I believe the term "elevated genre" is a descriptor predominantly used by arch wankers who have about as much poetry in their souls as a toaster oven, I generally enjoy examples of the genre.

You know the ones, horror yarns where the “monster” is actually an allegory for depression or grief or racism etc. Growing up on trashy, violent, splattery, horror, it makes a nice change of pace. A palate cleanser, if you will.

That said, Gothic by Philip Fracassi has reminded me that sometimes, just sometimes, it feels good to read a yarn about a haunted desk mucking up the day for every poor bastard who gets in its way.

Yes, Gothic is a novel that asks the question “What if Stephen King’s Christine… but furniture?”

The story of a struggling horror writer who is gifted the demonic desk in question is just the right amount of silly, combined with some very strong writing from Fracassi, to have me finish the damn thing in three frantic sessions, where I began to wonder if the book was possessing me like the desk does to poor old Tyson Parks.

Brimming with vivid imagery, broad (but likable) characters and an enviable sense of narrative propulsion, this is a hard one to put down. Yes, at times I was replaying Patton Oswalt’s “Death Bed” routine in my head. And yes, the premise does feel like something Garth Marenghi would have come up with (were he not a fictional character) and yet for all that… I was hooked.

A combination of slick writing, razor sharp plotting and Graham Masterson-esque, gleeful lack of restraint - particularly in the final third - makes this a slice of old school throwback horror that you can read without fear of running into overbearing subtext or on-the-nose allegory.

It’s bold, it’s goofy and it tears into your mind like an overeager badger ripping open a Hot Pocket, and friends, I had a blast.

Thanks to Cemetery Dance Publications for the ARC.

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