Cover Image: Gothic


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Member Reviews

A good old fashioned cursed object tale (and who doesn’t love those?) Reminiscent of early EC Comics, Twilight Zones and Stephen King.


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2.5 stars.
This book was well written and has some disturbing prose, but the story just didn’t come through for me.
The lore behind the desk ended up feeling irrelevant to the story, and there were so many unresolved plot points. I felt that there wasn’t enough build up to the desk taking over Tyson, and I was ultimately left with more questions than answers by the end of the book.

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A great horror piece!
I loved the story and the development of it, which I felt was cleverly written.
The really created a sense of doom and suspense throughout.
If you like horror it’s a great read comparable to my favourite horror writers, such as Stephen King and James Herbert.

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As a horror writer myself, the whole premise of this novel had me hooked. A former best-selling author, now run dry, turns his life around when he is gifted a mysterious desk as a birthday present. As writers, we all experience that sense of dread from time to time, so I could well imagine the MC's euphoria when he discovered that suddenly the words just flowed. Another bonus for me was the use of the desk as a magical item/cursed object with a life of its own. Anthropomorphism is always a winner if done well, and it was done well. Exceedingly so.
The opening chapters had me hooked, then we were provided a bit of back story. When we arrived at Part Three and the back story, I have to admit my heart sank a little, because I thought the rest of the novel was going to travel back and fore in time. However, this was not the case, and the back story was entirely necessary.
With the arrival of the desk the story moved up another notch, and I found myself more and more engrossed. Tyson's lust for greed and fame is his undoing. We sense this, we feel it in our bones, but when an opportunity arrives to undo the damage I willed him with all my heart to grab it with both hands, knowing all the while he wouldn't.
Did I sympathize with the MC? No, for the reason stated above. Could I empathize, though? Yes.
To sum up: well written, as I knew it would be. Great story-telling and just the right amount of horror.

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GREAT book! Phillip Fracassi is quickly becoming a modern day master of the Horror genre, no doubt about it. He has a completely original voice, but you can feel the influence of those greats who came before him. I would love to know who his biggest influences are. GOTHIC is everything I love in a Horror novel. Pervasive evil.... So many genuinely scary moments. I loved this book. You will also if you're smart and grab a copy when it comes out!

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I now consider Fracassi to be a must-read author. And it finished quickly. The success of Boys in the Valley and the release of Gothic confirm Fracassi's reputation as a maestro of twisted, dark comedy.

Tyson Parks, a renowned author, is the subject of Gothic, a tale about a waning career. Due to his declining book sales, he has gotten accustomed to a particular lifestyle that is now all but unaffordable. Despite having a loving family and everything he truly needs, he feels elderly and helpless. His fortunes drastically change when his close lady friend gives him a stunningly sculpted, deep dark wood desk for his birthday.
Its central theme is the harmful power of obsession, as well as addiction and compulsion. It examines the destructive implications of excessive power.

I was smitten. I wasn't prepared for how dark, gory, and entertaining it was. You must always be aware of what will happen next so that you are never disappointed. If you're looking for the typical Hollywood resolution, you won't find it in Fracassi since he subverts expectations. There are drafts written by a desperate author grasping at a last-ditch effort. Additionally, Hellbound Heart possesses a cursed object that unlocks a door to an undesirable location.

Each page of this page-turner forces you to reevaluate your views on power and love. It's equally heart-pounding and thought-provoking. You could just relax and take it easy. It's a good one with lots of shadows. Even though such dim corridors are dark, they are nonetheless stocked with objects. Things that continue even after you stop yelling, reaching and tearing.

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This is a great example of a straight up, no holds barred, unrelenting horror book. You will not misclassify this as a thriller or drama. This is horror done right and truly (no matter how overused this expression may be) reminded me of early Stephen King.

From the character development, the terrifying plot, and unflinchingly brutal narrative, this book delivers on all fronts and will surely be the reason for your next few nightmares.

Nobody will leave these pages unscathed, including the reader! I'm looking forward to a release date and pre-order information so I can give a full review on my Horror Reads YouTube channel. I highly recommend it!

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Philip Fracassi - Gothic

Is there a busier author in world horror than Philip Fracassi at the moment? I doubt that very much. However prolific Fracassi is has had little impact on the quality and sheer range of fiction he has recently released to a sleigh of top-quality publishers. Gothic comes hot on the heels of the excellent A Child Alone With Strangers (2021) and is available in two formats, the first is a 250 limited edition from Earthling Press (November 2022) which is long since sold out and the trade version which has been picked up by Cemetery Dance for a February 2023 drop.

Fracassi is obviously a fan of releasing his work as limited editions before later wider releases as he did the same with the superb Boys in the Valley, which was originally limited to 500 copies (which sold out very quickly) but will thankfully get a mainstream release in the summer of 2023. It is a relief that Tor Nightfire have picked up this terrific book as it was far too good to stay hidden away as an obscure collector’s edition. Don’t Let Them Get You Down (Zagava Press) is yet another limited edition, which I haven’t read yet, Fracassi has in the pipeline.

If you haven’t read A Child Alone With Strangers I strongly recommend you check it out, it has some similarities in style to Gothic in that plot wise it is a throwback horror novel harking back to the glory years of the seventies and eighties. Thankfully that is where the similarities end as Fracassi is too good and stylish a writer to keep recycling the same ideas. A Child Alone With Strangers is undoubtedly a more ambitious work, but that is not being detrimental to Gothic, which has a leaner more self-contained story, with less characters and about half the page length. Fracassi has commented online “I’m hopeful readers of my work (and authors in the vein of King, McCammon, Barker) will enjoy.” The influence of Stephen King is all over Gothic, but personally I compare it to the briefer works of his alter ego Richard Bachman!

At the heart of Gothic is a blend of two very old horror tropes: the cursed or haunted objects, which is expertly mixed with the idea of selling your soul for untold wealth. Philip Fracassi takes a bit of both and puts it into his exquisite horror blender and gives us a brand-new smoothie called Gothic! It does not matter too much that the idea is not particularly original, because the way in which the story is presented and told is first rate and a guaranteed page-turner which I sped through over a couple of days. Fracassi even has fun with knowing jokes aimed at Stephen King, both the horror author/reader crowd (“Richard Laymon’s novels were exiled to the UK”) and uncannily nails his plot of the novel in one sentence “Can you believe it Tyson? It’s like Christine… but wood!” Or to paraphrase instead of a haunted car, a 1958 Plymouth Fury to be precise, we have a possessed desk! It sounds very dumb but in reality the plots of those novels which inspired it were equally preposterous.

Gothic opens with Diana Montresor getting very excited, she has spies and detectives all over the world trying to track down an ancient family heirloom which was stolen two centuries earlier, with one of her contacts believing he has eyes on it. Meanwhile in New York, Sarah, the long-term girlfriend of washed up former hot-shot horror author Tyson Parks is eyeing up buying her boyfriend a vintage desk for his birthday. He is 59 years old and has not had a hit novel in some years and she hopes the new desk will get his creative juices flowing. And considering what happens next that is a serious understatement!

Although Gothic did not hold any major twists and turns it was a hugely enjoyable easy on the eye novel as Tyson Parks moves from being a twitchy has-been with low self-esteem to an all-together different swaggering beast. It was hard to say whether Parks was based on any real authors, more than likely there were snippets of various individuals thrown into the mix, but combined they gave a great portrayal of an author who enjoyed his second wind and was too self-obsessed to see the bigger picture. I am sure we can all think of many authors who had a few early hit and then faded away feeding off former glories and resenting the next generation being invited to conventions before them!

I enjoyed the glimpse into the cutthroat world of bigtime publishing and how easy it is to be cast aside and forgotten (see above), with everybody only being as good as their next hit. The supporting cast and how they revolved around Parks was also first rate, from his relationship with Sarah, to his on/off bond with his daughter Violet. The interactions between the three was very credible and Violet was an empathetic university student who as the plot moved on jumped from the page. The relationship with his agent Harry, and the manner in which the balance of power switches, was also another strength of Gothic. Strong characterisation has always been a major strength of Fracassi, and even with the plot leans towards the trashy, he does not lower the quality or skimp on the detail or credibility.

And what of the desk itself? It was much more than a hunk of wood and was far from inanimate. What a monstrous and wonderous creation! It breathed, lurked, evolved, oozed, made empty promises, fed on pain and grew ever so powerful as Tyson’s writing career found a second wind. Along the way there were moments of hair-raising gore and the desk drawer scene had me wincing. If you ever read Gothic you will know exactly what I mean.

Over the last couple of years Philip Fracassi has quickly become one of my ‘go to’ authors and he is equally skilled at writing novels and novellas as he is short stories. If you have never read him both Gothic and A Child Alone with Strangers are great places to start before the rerelease of Boys in the Valley in the summer of 2023. But don’t forget his excellent range of shorter fiction, this guy covers all the literary bases.

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4.5 stars rounded up

What a masterfully done horror novel! Great atmosphere, complex characters and overall creepy good horror! A page turner if I ever did read one!

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Wow. Just wow.

I am not sure I like starting a review like this, but I can not think of a word that better expresses how much I enjoyed this book.

It did take me a couple of chapters to get into the writers writing style, but that is on me (and not him) but once I had, I found I could hardly put the book down. His use of prose in amping up the atmosphere was amazing, it oozed a "creep" factor that was palpable as I read what was happening.

The glimpse back in time was perfect, good detailing and filled in the gaps to the artifacts history that we had before then.

But the direction the story eventually takes you is one I don't think anyone could guess. Well, I sure as hell did not anyway. Loved the ending, it was so different to have a book end like that, it was like a refreshing surprise.

You like horror? Then this is a must for your bedside table, especially to read in the dead of the night.

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This was such a wonderfully done horror novel, I enjoyed the psychological aspect of this book. The characters were wonderfully done and it was great to see the changes both good and bad in them. The plot was what I wanted from this type of book. Philip Fracassi has a great writing style and I was invested in what was happening in the book. I look forward to reading more from Mr. Fracassi

"Shall I long for thee until I become a flower?” he says under his breath, and the reflection, trapped in the glass, only smiles more broadly. “Shall I wither away? No, old friend, the reflection says coldly, its eyes white as snow. I’m afraid that won’t do. Besides, Narcissus you are not. So, if you’re done caterwauling, do us a favor, will you?

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