by Philip Fracassi
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Pub Date 03 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 15 Jan 2023
Cemetery Dance Publications, Trade Paperback and Ebook
On his 59th birthday, Tyson Parks—a famous, but struggling, horror writer—receives an antique desk from his partner, Sarah, in the hopes it will rekindle his creative juices. Perhaps inspire him to write another best-selling novel and prove his best years aren’t behind him.
A continent away, a mysterious woman makes inquiries with her sources around the world, seeking the whereabouts of a certain artifact her family has been hunting for centuries. With the help of a New York City private detective, she finally finds what she’s been looking for.
It’s in the home of Tyson Parks.
Meanwhile, as Tyson begins to use his new desk, he begins acting... strange. Violent. His writing more disturbing than anything he’s done before. But publishers are paying top dollar, convinced his new work will be a hit, and Tyson will do whatever it takes to protect his newfound success.
Even if it means the destruction of the ones he loves.
Even if it means his own sanity.
"Not since The Shining has the descent of a writer into madness been so masterfully rendered on the page.” - Ross Jeffery, Bram Stoker-nominated author of Tome
“A high creep factor chiller with a sinister edge that had me reading well past my bedtime. Frightening and fun, and deliciously original!" — James A Moore, author of the Blood Red trilogy and Cherry Hill.
Netgalley, advance review copies both digital and physical, PR firm.
Netgalley, advance review copies both digital and physical, PR firm.
Average rating from 184 members
Do you like a slow burn novel as much as I do? You know, one that's so descriptive the characters jump off the page and you can see everything the author mentions? That's GOTHIC, Philip Fracassi's newest horror novel.
His pacing is perfect. The first third of the book is set-up and introduces the characters. There is no confusion between characters - they are not cookie cutter and all are their own person. Then he dives into the meat of the story and you will begin to realize that all is not what it seems. Watch out for that last third of the book. Don't make plans and be prepared to read in one sitting. The horror happens throughout the novel, but that last part is a warp speed ride into terror .
I closed my kindle feeling a satisfaction I hadn't felt with horror in years. Absolutely incredible writing and story! Highly recommended.
Equal parts visceral horror and visceral humor, this book had me laughing even as I cringed. When a past-his-prime horror writer is gifted a desk that was once used as a sacrificial altar, he finds himself very...inspired. Haunted even. Possessed, maybe. In trouble, definitely!
In most books, authors lay down no more or less than the story, often skillfully and enjoyably. But the horror greats, the Kings and Barkers and Jacksons, imbue their stories with a part of themselves. This book has that in spades - real personality, and a genuinely endearing storytelling voice.
I didn't expect a story about a desk to pull off in so many fun directions, including a very cool old school horror vibe, a pulpy adventure sideline, and a gothic fantasy replete with warlocks and portals, all anchored by the more familiar territory of a loving modern family. It was unexpected and downright scary - one particular passage gave me literal goosebumps.
A "writer going insane" story will always draw comparisons to King stories like The Shining and The Dark Half, but Gothic has its own peculiar vibe that sets it apart.
Because we get to know our imperfect but loveable protagonist and horror writer, Tyson Parks, so well in the first half of the book, the mounting dread, madness, confusion, violence, and awful glee he cycles through in the back half feel all the more real, and terrible.
Gothic finds something fresh and horrifying in that classic old horror staple: be careful what you wish for.
"As he sits there, smiling and sipping cabernet sauvignon, watching the women work, he's surprised to find himself wondering what it would be like to see their insides."
Fantastic outing from Fracassi here. I expected nothing less after reading his story collection Behold The Void a couple years ago.
Gothic is a bleak throwback to the pulp horror that heavily inspired it. It's dark as hell with a fantastically written protagonist in Tyson Parks. It's nice reading from the point of view of another writer struggling with imposter syndrome and writers block.
I can't wait to see what Fracassi does next.
Fracassi takes the horror writer encounters real-life horrors trope to new and exciting places with Gothic. This is a book that needs length to lay out as Fracassi drags us along on a slow descent into madness. The characters, especially Tyson and Sarah, are given room to breathe and bare their souls to the reader, making this story all the more terrifying when things go wrong. It could be argued that a 2023 release that spans 400 pages needs to earn that runtime more than ever before, and Gothic more than lives up to that challenge. While psychological terror abounds, Fracassi is not afraid to get graphic with a later scene in the book being one of the most intense and gripping in recent memory. My only detraction, and it's on personal preference is when the book cuts away for a long stretch of time to take care of backstory. The flashback is intriguing and crucial, but invested as I was, I found myself wanting to return to the main characters. All in all, expect Gothic to be on a fair few best of 2023 lists. One of the most frightening stories of the year.
Gothic is my introduction to Fracassi’s work, and it did not disappoint! It took me a couple chapters to get into this book, once I was in it I couldn’t stop reading. The constant sense of doom and gloom, and the author was able to creat isn’t easy and it’s done well in this book.
I do want to thank NetGalley & Cemetery Dance Publications
This book reminded me of why I initially fell in love with the horror genre. It'd been a long time since I read a book that took me back to my early days of reading anything and everything horror related that I could get my hands on. The excitement of discovering a new author who could make me both care about the characters and feel I was living the horror alongside them has become a rare occurrence. This book did that and more.
The story simmered at a slow burn for the first third of the book. The pace allowed me to learn the characters, grow to like them, and begin to feel a slowly building sense of dread and impending doom. I wanted to both look away, because If I didn't read the words then all would remain okay, and keep reading out of dark curiosity to see how the story would unfold. When the action moved into high gear around the halfway point, anxiety was my constant companion and there was no setting aside the book until the story was finished.
A writer who fears his best days are behind him, an evil relic that promises a 2nd chance but with string attached, family and friends who love him and yet are powerless to intervene as madness sets in. I've read a few similar plots over the years, but Fracassi brought something fresh and compelling to this story. He crafted a bleak tale of obsession and loss that's wholly his own. I'll be buying a physical copy for my shelf and reading more from this author.
Philip Fracassi is quickly becoming one of my favorite new writers, and this book cements his place as THE up-and-coming novelist in the horror genre.
This book has the potential to be Fracassi's breakout and to hook a new generation of horror fans, just as Stephen King did with "Cujo", "Firestarter", or "The Dead Zone". Yes -- it's that good. It's that gory. It's that compelling, un-putdownable, and enjoyable in a can't look away, yet peering through hands covering your face type of way. If you are a horror fan, this book is great fun.
I won't re-hash the plot here (other reviews have certainly done a better job there than I could do), but the atmospherics and pacing were perfect, in my opinion. And I loved the Easter eggs (or tips of the hat) to so many horror landmarks scattered throughout the book.
Keep up the outstanding work, Philip, and congratulations on a superb modern classic horror novel!
First time reading Philip Fracassi, and really enjoyed this book. It had great, well-developed, characters, and a great story and pacing. Will need to find more from Philip Fracassi. #oldschoolhorror #NetGalley
This ARC was provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
An author just wanting to reclaim his voice finds inspiration in an object that may not be an inanimate as it seems. What ensues is a spiral into madness the likes of the stories he writes.
The imagery in this book is phenomenal, and some of it is truly horrifying. I loved the flow of the story and how well it kept me guessing how it was all going to play out. Some of the scenes were so visceral, I could feel the physical pain of the characters. The characters as well were all very deep and well rounded.
My only minor criticism, would be in the storyline of the female owner of the desk, it didn’t seem to do her character justice; I can also see how it played well into the plot.
Overall, a great book that makes you feel the insanity as you’re reading and makes it a book not easily put down.
I predict Philip Fracassi’s latest novel Gothic will be labeled an instant classic. The novel accomplishes that rare feat of being a page-turner and a slow burn as Fracassi builds the characters, context and impending horror over the first two hundred pages. As a reader, you can see it coming, which works well in this book. What you don’t see coming is the climax and denouement of the last act that really puts that final nail in the coffin proving this is more than just a mystery thriller, earning its place alongside classic horror novels that swim in gothic themes. While the story of a writer being slowly driven mad by his craft is well-trodden ground, Fracassi has breathed new life into this familiar narrative while evoking mastery of such horror icons as Stephen King and John Carpenter. This is the first of Philip’s novels I’ve read and I’m excited to discover his other works.
It's a slow burn, but that's not a bad thing. It's what I enjoy the most sometimes, and Gothic was no exception.
Wow. What the f* did I just read!?!?
Honestly, I was very much in need of a decent horrorstory, but this one exceeded my expectations. Could this author become my favorite horrorwriter, next to King? He might.... I definitely have to read more of his.
I do have to say that I needed a little bit of time to get into it. But... that moment when you knew things we're going to take a bad turn, I was hooked. If people would've seen me reading this, they would see me look disgusted and hungry for more, haha! It was so good! The detail, the build-up, the story itself.... a haunted desk? That's some scary stuff and I didn't expect half of it!
Writing a horrorstory takes so much talent and imagination, I think it's one of te hardest genres to write if you really want to suck in your readers and can even make that cringe at moments. Fracassi did it. And then some.
I gave this book 3.5 stars
First of all, omg wtf did I just read? I loved it so darn much. As a Stephen King fan girl, I was surprised by the amount of King references that's sprinkled through out. This book is a gift that kept giving. Good lord I was exhausted by the end of it. I'm really glad I don't own a work desk. I'm so glad I picked this up for the 1st week of October, it's put me well in the mood for Halloween 🎃 Overall, a very fun and entertaining read for all horror lovers.
Thank you Netgalley!
So well put together with a strong voice.
This writer knows how to make you feel inner turmoil.
Be warned, this one gets deep, and will mess with your head, a lot.
Downright chilling. I loved every word. Fracassi is coming into his own and I'm ready to follow him on any journey he takes.
What is there to say about this novel other than that I feel it will be HUGE.
To me, it has this immense sense of retro, 80's horror in the vein of James Herbert, from the cover to the gothic haunted desk which turns out to have this sprawling, blood soaked history, it is an absolute revelation for readers like me who are, ahem, old enough to remember devouring novels with covers like this behind my nan's parlour settee. It was such an incongruous setting, everything in there was for best, and yet there was this bookcase in the corner crammed with 70's and 80's horror classics.
In this book, Tyson is an author battling expectations of his public, his editors, and himself as a writer.
He is broke, his much younger wife is one of his biggest and earliest fans, his brand of horror has fallen out of fashion and so the advance for his latest book has been long spent.Pride dictates that he does not borrow from his very well connected other half, or any of his friends, he wants to capture his glory days without compromise to what he wants to write.
However, he cannot write.
Given the ultimatum of having a month to write a whole novel, after failing to sell the historical one which he has written, he is at his actual wits end. He cannot tap the vein of darkness which would let him pour forth the words which once made him top the bestseller charts.
Unbeknownst to him, his wife is planning to surprise him on his 59th birthday, where he is tipping from being a recognisable man to a properly middle aged has been, he is about to have his wishes come true...
She has tracked down the perfect writing desk, hoping that he will be able to write once more.
But what he produces has a very particular audience in mind and what moves him to work has a sinister intent...
There is so much to revel in, the lush descriptions of the desk, the blood soaked scenes of horror, the inner workings of a writer's mind, all of it are so rich and vivid.
You could feel Tyson's frustration rising off the page, his wife's need to be the muse which brings him back, all of which lead to the buying of what turns out to be something much more horrific than anything he could conjure.
It's a cautionary tale, raising the spectre of just what you would sacrifice for your goals and the motif of a writer's desk as a sacrificial altar is brilliant. His wife is so desperate to make him into the object of her desire that she leaves herself open to the dark influence of this desk, Tyson is so caught up with his professional and personal failings he will sacrifice his peace of mind to be able to write.
And the thing is, the dark force moving through the desk makes this writer both vulnerable and a perfect target because he already has this in him.
Greed, ambition, perception of success...it all matters in this situation and I genuinely felt completely creeped out, compelled to keep reading and enthralled by the back story of the writer's desk from hell.
Using an unlikable character as the principal narrator takes balls, it takes talent as you could so easily be put off by Tyson. But the essentially hopeful nature of the human heart anticipates him being strong enough to fight this malevolence in the same way you root for Jack Torrance in The Shining.
Embracing all that is good and great about the gothic genre, this is a reinvigoration of the classic art form with a very modern twist.
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