Cover Image: Gothic


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There's a lot of interesting experiences to be had here, with a fantastic premise and some nice ratcheting tension, but its reliance on old-school tropes and outdated shock value mar what could be a thrilling experience, and one scene in particular goes a step too far for this particular reader, venturing into territory that makes for difficult reading. For better or for worse, a throwback to the horror ditties of the 90s, and those who love early/mid-stage King, Koontz, or Matheson will find plenty to love here, but with the bold new directions horror has gone in recent years, this feels like a step back.

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If you are looking for a horror book that has graphic body horror descriptions and extreme violence, this is the book to pick up. Often the popular books that I see listed as horror have very light horror elements, like haunted houses or supernatural elements.

There's nothing light about Gothic. It's disturbing, slightly nauseating and definitely messed up. I have nothing against reading extreme horror. If the horror adds to the plot, characters, or themes in a meaningful way, I'm there for it.

Unfortunately, for me Gothic's plot wasn't as compelling as I'd hoped it would be and none of the characters felt real. The main character, writer Tyson Parks, came the closest. Fracassi did a great job of depicting Tyson’s descent into madness after he receives a demonic desk from his girlfriend for his birthday. But besides his obsession with the desk and his overwhelming need to make a comeback as a writer, Tyson felt flat to me.

You can tell that Stephen King is a huge inspiration for Fracassi. In fact, it’s a bit too obvious in the way Fracassi writes. His writing style heavily copies that of King to the point where it became distracting for me. I love when writers are inspired by other writers, but the dialogue and language used seemed like it was taken right off the pages of a King novel.

Overall, I was underwhelmed by this story. The supernatural horror wasn’t explored in as depth as I would have liked and you have to read almost half of the book before it even starts.

*Thank you to NetGalley and Cemetery Dance Dance Publications for a digital arc. All opinions are my own.

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What: cursed-object horror!
About: a horror writer on the back end of his career is gifted a cursed desk, possessed by an entity that promises to reignite the author's popularity at, of course, great costs.
Features: discomfort — watching a wreck in slow-motion kind of terror.
Assets: dual narrative of the present-day author and history of the desk. Darkness permeates this book!
Obstacles: readers thinking cursed-object tropes are hack may miss a superb book by someone who is quickly becoming one of my “bullpen” authors.
Who it’s for: horror readers who enjoy frank, crisp, brutal prose…and who are TIRED of demons/demonic/possession novels.

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Tyson, a struggling horror writer with a deadline receives an antique writing desk from his girlfriend Sarah who is hoping that this desk will rekindle his creative juices. When Tyson begins to use his new desk, his creativity is indeed sparked but the work is darker than ever and there is a new violence in him that is hard to suppress. As publishers offer top dollar for the new disturbed books, Tyson will do anything to keep his new found success. Even if it means madness and destruction.

This book was easy to get into but it didn’t fully hook me until about 30%. I really liked the characters and the overall vibe which at times felt like watching Jack Torrance at the typewriter. There were actually a few King references in here and I loved that. Good atmosphere with just enough creepy moments, some gore and emotional turmoil as Tyson grapples with his sanity. Overall if you enjoy some old school horror , this is a good choice. 3.5⭐️

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Tyson is an author who hasn’t had a hit in quite some time when his partner decides to gift him some inspiration. She purchases him an antique desk which seems to do the trick. Tyson begins to write again, but only when possessed by the desk. Things get more and more wild as we learn about the desk’s history. In the end I’m worried weird stuff is going to happen to me because I read it! Four stars!

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I liked some parts of this book; the desk was sufficiently creepy and I thought the characters were interesting. The dialogue did not do it for me; it felt like Stephen King’s dialogue, which also feels weird to me.
An interesting read, but I wouldn’t reread it.

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Philip Fracassi is hit or miss for me. His book of short stories, Beneath a Pale Sky, had beautiful writing and I wanted to love it, but I gravitate toward endings that are more certain, and the stories I read were too open-ended and ambiguous for me to love.
I had that concern when I started Gothic, but I’m glad to say that, while nothing is tied with with a neat red bow, the ending was very satisfying. I even had to laugh as I reread the last page for the third time.
In a nutshell, Tyson Parks is a “once” bestselling horror author. He’s made a ton of money for himself and his agent and publisher, but he’s hit a writing slump and now his agent is starting to treat him like something he needs to scrape off the bottom of his shoe.
His longtime girlfriend Sarah picks him up a new desk for his birthday, hoping it will break him from his slump and get him back on writing track. Of course, she has no way of knowing that the stone top of the desk has a history of violence and bloodshed attached to it that goes back thousands of years, and that it has another attachment…an old blind man following an agenda to make sure the desk continues to feed and sustain itself.
Honestly, I didn’t care for any of the characters.
Tyson felt too soft in the beginning, although it was understandable. He was being ground under the boot heel of an agent that he’d made very wealthy and, now that he wasn’t churning out bestsellers, he was looked at as useless.
Sarah was sweet, but she spent most of her time in the book complaining that she wanted Tyson to marry her. And while he continuously made noises that she was the “love of his life”, he refused to give her the one thing she wanted most. To me, she felt like a floor lamp. Switch her on when she was useful (“look at your birthday gift”), shove her in a corner when she’d served her purpose.
Violet, Tyson’s daughter from a previous marriage, was filler and softened some of the sharp edges.
The agent, Harry, was a bully.
Diana Montessor provided the backstory about the desk and served as our Big Bad when it came time to bring on the climax. She was interesting, but forgettable.
Ben, the detective, had a couple of good moments, but he just wasn’t so much.
Randy (“I’m your number one fan…get it?”) was probably my favorite stand out character, and he was only involved for around 10-15 pages.
I sound like I’m trashing the book. I’m not. I don’t have to like the characters to like the story, and I liked the story very much. It pulled me in from page one and didn’t let go til the end. The use of a haunted/possessed desk as our villain was innovative. Shades of Lovecraft. Although, if you ask Tyson, he’d cite King as he’s absolutely obsessed with him and his popularity and even mentioned changing publishers because he wanted to give the Great One a run for his seat on the throne.
Out of 5, a solid 3.75 nudging 4. I’ll happily read Fracassi again.

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When I say that I like reading horror novels, THIS is what I mean.

There's madness, there's terror, there's stress, there's anxiety.

There's also beauty, poetry and music in the writing. Philip Fracassi is a master.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review.

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There have been many of tales about author (or any creative types, really) finding inspiration in the most peculiar (dark, scary) places. This one got a desk for a muse. Not just any desk, of course. An antique grotesque with terrible bloody history to it. You know, just the sort of gift one might expect from a loved one with more money than sense. Madness ensues…
So, how meta is it when a genre writer writes of a genre writer? Some?
Both are men in their 50s, but Fracassi’s star seems to be ascending while his protagonist’s, Tyson’s, has been on a steady downward spiral for years. When we meet Tyson, he’s in the process of sabotaging his last chance at redemption by risking a deal with Morrow.
But on the flip side, Tyson is a nice guy. Something of an old-fashioned flabby sad sack, but a devoted dad, a loving partner, a good friend, etc.
And then his girlfriend decides to replace the desk he’s had since college and had written all his bestsellers at, with a 25K monstrosity. And Tyson immediately gets possessed by his new possession; his entire personality switch flips, and now he’s a total ass. Obnoxious, rude, volent ass. This is the guy you’re stuck with for the rest of the novel.
But then, there is so plenty going on around Tyson. From a mysterious femme fatale coming after his precious desk to reboarding the rollercoaster of fame and fortune to the way it all affects his relationships. And at the center of it all is one freakishly terrifying desk.
There will be blood. It’s only a matter of time.
So did Fracassi succeed at writing a genuinely terrifying tale about a man desperately trying to write genuinely terrifying tales? Well, he comes close.
The writing itself is somewhat uneven, peculiarly so because when it’s good it’s really good, but then there are weird repetitions, relays, all-over-the-place pacing and tonal switches. Sometimes it varies between near amateurish name-dropping fanboy glee and solid literary frightfest. It’s entirely possible some of it is due to this being an ARC, but it reads perfectly finished otherwise.
But the sustained darkness of the overall plot and the mood are solid. As is the character writing. The book absolutely succeeds at drawing the reader into its nightmare and holding them there. I read the entire thing in one morning/afternoon, which is no small task given the book’s size (400 pages), so that alone speaks volumes of it. There’s definitely something about the way it all unfolds even though you know (you know) where it’s going and then that positively theatrical/cinematic denouncement. Very nice. So I’m rounding up my rating.
Fracassi as a career screenwriter is, of course, no stranger to cinematic writing. What’s funny is that his screenwriting work was featured by Disney and Lifetime. Read this book, then think about that fact. It’s freaking hilarious.
Overall, interesting, compelling, and worth checking out. Recommended for fans of dark fiction. Thanks Netgalley.

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I'm obsessed with this story. "It's like Christine...but wood!"

Our main character, Tyson, is a father, partner and has-been writer struggling to stay relevant in the horror scene. An extravagant gift from his wife for his birthday changes everything! Is the desk haunted? Is he haunted? Is everyone haunted? I had the best time.

This book gave me chills, creeped me out and even made me laugh. The descriptions of what the characters were seeing and experiencing put me right in the moment and I'm not mad about it. The character's internal dialogue was so sarcastic and funny at times that I was chuckling amidst the horror.

Lots of nods to Stephen King, The Shining, Christine etc. which I thought was smart considering people would likely make those connections on their own, it was funny for the author to just call it out.

This could easily end up being one of my favourite reads of 2022...and it's only Jan. 11

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This book reads like a 70’s B-movie: a macho older widower with a college aged daughter is gifted an ominous relic (by his abiding partner) that was used in semi-satanic, Lovecraftian rituals. He becomes ensnared by the forces living within the object, a desk, and events take place that would easily be seen on grainy film with bad effects and an english dub. It’s got body horror, cosmic and weird horror, psychological horror, and a few glimpses of some creatures. It felt like home.
Gothic by Philip Fracassi is predictable, with badly written female characters, but it is a classic. It’s something my soul was needing. Good old fashioned spookiness and gore, a sacrificial tale. It’s about what we are willing to lose to be “IT”. I think the author, Fracassi, was doing some self-reflection here but I’ll leave that for his therapist. My job is to be subjective. Can he write horror? Yes, he can. Most assuredly. The only reason Gothic didn’t get five stars is how the women are written… Who the fuck wears a bra to bed on purpose?
Will I recommend this book? That depends. There’s something very divisive about this type of horror. For some it is cheesy, unoriginal, and grotesque. For those of us who grew up reading “Paperbacks from Hell” and watching movies like ‘Spookies’, ‘The Changeling’, ‘The Devil’s Rain’, ‘Possession’, or ‘The Devil’s’, this will be like chicken soup for your black (or lack of a) soul. I recommend Gothic if you’re of the latter group.

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Okay, deep breath…calm down…I read the last half of this book in a complete panic, desperately hoping I could influence the outcome with my positive wishes while my heart continued to break.
GOTHIC by @pfracassi from @cemeterydancepub
I wanted to stop, to throw my Kindle. I need to know what is going to happen, I don’t want to find out what is going to happen. A book is the ultimate Schrödinger’s cat, if I don’t continue reading, the characters are both alive and dead. But of course I had to keep reading even with my need to know/don’t want to find out mental confrontation.
These are such sympathetic characters. The slow build up gets you to know these people and it carves out a place in your heart for them.
You think the books almost over, your brain is spent and in awe at what you just went through, only to realize that you are just three quarters of the way through the book. Gothic’s tendrils will not let go of you so easily.
Publishing February 3rd -don’t miss this one. I tried to leave the review with just how it made me feel. You want the experience of going in with little knowledge of what you are confronting

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**Spoilers ahead**

This was a really disappointing read. I really enjoy the premise, but the execution was lacking. The way it was written made it have no tension. I also found the order of things a bit odd..when the background of the desk popped up early in the story it felt very out of place. It was not the worst read ever, but I also did not care about any of the characters or what happened and almost dnf-ed it.

This is the story of horror author Tyson Parks whose partner gifts him a new writing desk for his birthday. He has been struggling to write his next book, but once he gets the desk everything changes. And not for the better.

Now other reviewers have likened this to The Shining, and I see where the comparisons would be (there are even references to it), but this is no Stephen King novel. I don't even love The Shining, but it is a far superior read of someone's descent into madness. I was not for me. The writing didn't catch me, the storyline was too light at times and wasn't substantial enough. We have another character Diana, whose family originally owned the desk but it was stolen and she has been trying to track it down to keep it from harming anyone else. I must say she was the most useless character in the book. She almost could have been cut out completely with little change. I mean she does murder a few people, but that could have easily happened another way. She is supposed to know all about the evil in the desk, but the desk kills her in two seconds. Like...if you knew all about the evil why would you be so lackadaisical when around it? It made no sense. At least there should have been a longer struggle with her fighting the evil, but nope it just takes her out almost instantly once she is in the room with it. I don't know what the point of her was...

There is also the private detective she hired, Ben, who in the last chapter could be setting up a sequel. You don't find out much about him, but there are things hinted at that could be expanded upon, though if there were to be another book I would pass on reading it. But the base story, Tyson and what his family goes through was just not very good. I wanted more. I wanted more creepy things happening, I wanted to care about what was going on. The writing didn't work for me so the story didn't work.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book.

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Philip Fracassi's transports you instantly to a period where horror authors wrote their books with their guts (no pun intended). Pure evil pours from the pages of 'Gothic', where fans can rejoice in their gory images and the page-turning style of Fracassi, although inner horrors, more present to everyone who has ever dreamt of being a writer, can be seen too. The fear of selling your soul to the devil in exchange of success. The fear of success changing your life priorities. Philip Fracassi gives us a good one, and I hope this came from his solo mind. Good job.

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Perverse Antiques Roadshow meets Faust when a washed-up writer finds sinister inspiration after his partner buys him a fantastically carved medieval desk.
Very dark, very twisted story about how ambition, greed and male ego eclipses love.

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Gothic is exactly what I wanted it to be when I read the description. It can sound possibly cheesy that an evil desk is corrupting the writer using it, but it is done so well that it never seems odd. I hadn’t heard of Philip Fracassi before and now I really want to find more! Everything in here was steadily unsettling and creepy, it felt very believable. All around a job well done and a great choice for horror fans!

Note: ARC kindly provided in exchange for honest review
5 stars

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"I mean, sure, it's hardcore horror, don't get me wrong..."

And so, one of the characters sums up my experience of Gothic. I wanted to hate it, put it down, and a few times, I did just that. I'm a lifelong fan and reader of supernatural horror. Name a prolific or famous horror writer, and I've read them. Most of me was just NOT OKAY with this book. Trigger warnings alone include physical and sexual violence, gender-based violence, domestic abuse, suicidal ideation, and ugh just general creepiness.

Plot-wise, it's like The Shining only in that it's a desk instead of a hotel. That's it. There are several references to The Shining, which I thought was just odd because it felt gratuitous and far too generous a comparison.

While this review may be acerbic, I did give it two stars - one for the fact that I managed to finish it (more a star to myself then, maybe?) and another for the fact that I genuinely did not hate the entire book. In fact, I went from a genuine dislike of the protagonist to realising that he had simply been written as a complex and self-loathing character, which came as a relief after some pretty sickly sexism right from the off. The unraveling of the story of the desk's origins was also pretty gripping.

I'd say that the writer shows so much potential if they might just cut back on the just devastating and gratuitous violence and spend .more time developing those characters and origins which pillared an otherwise tedious and sickly read.
Of course, if this book was specifically written to be some kind of allegory or even a caricature of itself or the sub-genre, I entirely missed the point. Just someone let me know, would you?

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Philip Fracassi, and for access to this arc in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Were you a young horror fan in the 80s? Did you cut your teeth on stories full of misogyny and the male gaze and jam-packed with sexual violence? Do you long for times when stories were just, you know, a lot rapey-er? If so, Philip Fracassi's story of an ancient evil lurking in a cursed desk and the washed-up horror author who falls prey to its thrall is definitely going to tickle your disgusting fancy, you repugnant piece of shit. Crawl back into your hole and read this gross, awful book, I guess.

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Such a terrifying read, but so so good. Listening to Tony Braxton's Unbreak My Heart would never be the same again.

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Author Tyson Parks receives an antique desk for his birthday from his partner, Sarah, in hopes that it will free him of his writer’s block. Unbeknownst to them the desk has a dark and tragic past that will bring Tyson to the edge.

This is a thought provoking novel that touches on compulsion and obsession. Very reminiscent of Stephen King’s older novels. The character development was well executed and you can feel the intense dread within his writing. Chilling and suspenseful I would recommend this book. Due note: content warnings include domestic abuse and sexual assault.

This is Fracassi’s first book I have read and it will not be my last. I will definitely be looking into his catalog of works.

I want to thank NetGalley, Philip Fracassi and Cemetery Dance Publications, Trade Paperback and Ebook for the e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are honest, my own and left voluntarily.

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