Philip Fracassi the renowned author of BOYS IN THE VALLEY

Philip Fracassi the renowned author of BOYS IN THE VALLEY

Philip Fracassi the renowned author of BOYS IN THE VALLEY spoke LIVE with R.J. Huneke on TFF on August 21, 2023.

We discussed Philip’s new novel, many of his previous works, including GOTHIC, SHILOH, SACCULINA, BENEATH A PALE SKY, BEHOLD THE VOID, and more (find them all on his site here), as well as some of his upcoming projects, including some pulp fiction and science fiction, as well as the BITV book tour, and insight into his writing.

Readers and Fictioneers, this is not one you want to miss.

The remaining dates on Philip Fracassi’s BOYS IN THE VALLEY Book Tour can be found here – go and see him!

Here is a preview of our TFF review of this incredible book:

“BOYS IN THE VALLEY by Philip Fracassi is a chilling classic.”

philip fracassi, r.j. huneke, tff, author, boys in the valley, book tour, nyc

Fracassi’s tale is labeled as horror, but is much more than that: this is a deep, gritty coming-of-age story that delves its own mark on readers.

BOYS IN THE VALLEY, Philip Fracassi, horror, tor nightfire, orbit books, stephen king, Earthling Publications,

In 1905, when the priests at a Catholic orphanage in rural Pennsylvania are brought a possessed man to heal, things go horribly wrong, for the clergy and for the 30 boys in their charge.

From the shocking opening to the pandemonium at the book’s ending, BOYS IN THE VALLEY grabs you and does not let up!

Fracassi has a great writing style that combines vivid imagery, tight-knit prose, and a tense build-up of suspense littered with unexpected action, as he creates an in-depth world filled with memorable characters.

Read the rest of the review here.

SHILOH: A NOVELLA OF THE CIVIL WAR by Philip Fracassi 5/5

SHILOH: A NOVELLA OF THE CIVIL WAR by Philip Fracassi 5/5

SHILOH: A NOVELLA OF THE CIVIL WAR by Philip Fracassi 5/5 Stars and all-around Aces for the work of historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural.

SHILOH plants you in the middle of the mayhem of one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

Philip Fracassi’s cinematic prose practically gives the reader a 4-D experience tossing us aside, book in-hand, even as the characters are blown backward by forest-leveling cannon fire.

The following book review of SHILOH: A NOVELLA OF THE CIVIL WAR by Philip Fracassi is SPOILER FREE.

SHILOH, philip fracassi, SHILOH: a civil war, civil war, horror

Two days.

The battle lasted for two days.

In the Battle of Shiloh, in Tennessee, over twenty thousand Confederate and Union soldiers were killed, tens of thousands more were injured, and thousands more are missing.

That is no spoiler; that is history.

The surprise attack by the Confederacy, and their staunch entrenchment, made for the gargantuan amount of carnage that ensued in the infamous two-day long battle.

Fracassi has a way with words – to say the least – and his main characters Henry and his twin brother William provide the kind of insightful thoughts, brutal actions, and realistic conversation that brings the two Confederate soldiers to life, as they attempt to carry out one of the South’s most bold endeavors.

The setting could not be better written. The feel of the battlefield and of the notion of the risky sneak attack is palpable.

When night hits, it is offset by a magical, effervescent glow of the wounds of numerous soldiers after the first crazy day.

For after a day of fighting, mortal wounds have taken ahold of many, including William, and yet Henry sees something unnatural that leads to that emerald glow.

I never thought I would become invested and feel for two Rebel soldiers from the south in the Civil War, but Fracassi has me transfixed by Henry – his blind hatred of Grant, war, and religion are well-balanced and written in a way that creates strong empathy.

Prepare for incredible detail in the fighting – these men had muskets and bayonets – that leads to vivid gore, as blood and splinters fly.

If you enjoy history, or just thriller and speculative fiction grounded in gritty realism, SHILOH is a must-read!

I read this as an audiobook, and I have to say the narration is fantastic (so keep that in mind, Fictioneers).

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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SHILOH, philip fracassi, SHILOH: a civil war, civil war, horror

“SHILOH: A NOVELLA OF THE CIVIL WAR by Philip Fracassi 5/5” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

philip fracassi, r.j. huneke, tff, author, boys in the valley, book tour, nyc

Philip Fracassi is on his BOYS IN THE VALLEY Book Tour, and TFF’s own R.J. Huneke will be interviewing Philip Fracassi prior to his stop at the Mysterious Bookshop in New York LIVE on Facebook (the video will be on Youtube the next day), so be sure to tune in!

101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED Is Essential

101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED Is Essential

101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED is essential reading for all of the fictioneers out there that either love speculative fiction, or want a curated introduction to the phenomenal horror fiction that has come out since the year 2000.

As Josh Malerman writes in his foreword to the book: “Welcome to modern horror.”

Sadie Hartmann’s 101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED adds urgency to the hunt for new great reading, as the renowned writer of a gargantuan amount of horror book reviews excitedly offers up the very best she has come across in the last 23 years.

101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU'RE MURDERED, Sadie Mother Horror Hartmann, Sadie Hartmann, Mother Horror , stephen king, philip fracassi, horror, literary criticism

There are horror indie books, self-published titles, and best-selling novels too.

Sadie Hartmann provides accessible literary criticism for the bevy of books in 101 that are clearly near and dear to her heart, even if some of them were so terrifying they made her sleep with the lights on.

My To-Be-Read (TBR) list grew by dozens, as I perused Hartmann’s meticulous work and found exciting insight tailored to my interests.

I could not put 101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED, or my Goodreads app, down!

There is a book for everyone in here and the way 101 is organized and explained makes for both fascinating and illuminating reading.

Each book falls under one of five categories: Paranormal, Supernatural, Human Monsters, Natural Order Horror, and Short Story Collections.

Each category is explained thoroughly with wit, knowledge, and relatable candor.

Paranormal is for Hartmann, “freaky shit that defies explanation,” and she is one-hundred percent right.

And then there are subcategories, like Supernatural’s Demons and Possession.

Two brilliant sections are given to each book review and were pivotal for me: the “At A Glance” section to the right of the review and the “Quote” section at the top of the review.

101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU'RE MURDERED, Sadie Mother Horror Hartmann, Sadie Hartmann, Mother Horror , stephen king, philip fracassi, horror, literary criticism

I LOVE quotes, even just one line in a work of literature, be it horror, non-fiction, or poetry; I find they are so revealing as to the book’s voice and the author’s writing.

Hartmann painstakingly searched for not just a good quote, but an impactful one that represented what the work and its author’s writing are about. It is genius.

On top of the Quote, Hartmann gives us the At A Glance map to the novel where you can read about the work’s specific Themes, Tone, Style, Setting, and the Publisher; and all of which I find very helpful when determining what might interest me to delve further into a book or to run shrieking into the night, because there are clown dolls in the tale, combining two of my worst fears.

101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU'RE MURDERED, Sadie Mother Horror Hartmann, Sadie Hartmann, Mother Horror , stephen king, philip fracassi, horror, literary criticism

Readers, authors, horror experts and novices alike will revel in learning so much from Sadie Hartmann’s 101+ horror books.

Wait, did I just say 101+ horror books?! What is with the +?

Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann’s 101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED goes above and beyond analyzing the books themselves and hits on the very genres, tropes, triggers, and myriad nuances that give such books so much power to move, thrill, and scare the hell out of us.

And yes, though Hartmann states that this is a book of the modern age of great horror and that she is not reviewing foundational figures such as Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, or Bram Stoker, but, and I mean BUT, you may find a wonderful surprise as you go along and read about each of the 101, because many of the featured authors and genres lend themselves to what these classic authors have done in literature and so, for example, there may be a few mentions of THE EXORCIST by Blatty that slip past Hartmann’s portcullis before the book is closed.

And though the 101 book is limited to 101 reviewed titles, there are also ten author spotlights throughout the book, because all of these authors’ works need to be read (so we have a plethora of great titles), and each of them, from Adam Nevill, Alma Katsu, Ania Ahlborn, Christopher Buehlman, Grady Hendrix, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Tananarive Due to V. Castro pick their own their three all-time favorite horror books for 101!

There also essays from other exceptional authors in the modern genre that feature their books too: Cassandra Khaw, Hailey Piper, Eric LaRocca, R.J. Joseph, and  Daniel Kraus give their own thoughts on important aspects in horror.

So, what are some examples of the 101 modern horror gems in the book?

I am not telling.

Go and discover what graces the shadowy pages inside 101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED for yourselves. Ideally, do it before you’re murdered.

Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann is an author, is the Bram Stoker-nominated editor-in-chief of publisher Dark Hart Books, the owner/publisher of the horror fiction subscription service Night Worms (which is sooo much fun), and she is an epic reviewer of books.

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU'RE MURDERED, Sadie Mother Horror Hartmann, Sadie Hartmann, Mother Horror , stephen king, philip fracassi, horror, literary criticism

“101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED Is Essential” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

Catch Sadie Mother Horror Hartmann on her book tour NOW!

101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU'RE MURDERED, Sadie Mother Horror Hartmann, Sadie Hartmann, Mother Horror , stephen king, philip fracassi, horror, literary criticism

Sadie Hartmann was kind enough to give TFF an extra copy of 101 and we are giving it away after we see Philip Fracassi at an upcoming signing in NYC and he signs his own book review in 101! You can enter the GIVEAWAY free on any of TFF’s social media or FB here.

Speaking of Mr. Fracassi’s Book Tour, TFF’s own R.J. Huneke will be interviewing Philip Fracassi prior to his stop at the Mysterious Bookshop in New York LIVE on Facebook (the video will be on Youtube the next day), so be sure to tune in!

philip fracassi, r.j. huneke, tff, author, boys in the valley, book tour, nyc

BOYS IN THE VALLEY By Philip Fracassi Is A Chilling Classic

BOYS IN THE VALLEY By Philip Fracassi Is A Chilling Classic

BOYS IN THE VALLEY by Philip Fracassi is a chilling classic.

Fracassi’s tale is labeled as horror, but is much more than that: this is a deep, gritty coming-of-age story that delves its own mark on readers.

BOYS IN THE VALLEY, Philip Fracassi, horror, tor nightfire, orbit books, stephen king, Earthling Publications,

In 1905, when the priests at a Catholic orphanage in rural Pennsylvania are brought a possessed man to heal, things go horribly wrong, for the clergy and for the 30 boys in their charge.

From the shocking opening to the pandemonium at the book’s ending, BOYS IN THE VALLEY grabs you and does not let up!

Fracassi has a great writing style that combines vivid imagery, tight-knit prose, and a tense build-up of suspense littered with unexpected action, as he creates an in-depth world filled with memorable characters.

It is because of the many aspects of the characters living within the winter-blasted setting that there are quite a few extremely moving scenes.

The following Book Review of BOYS IN THE VALLEY by Philip Fracassi has mild plot Spoilers*

philip fracassi, r.j. huneke, tff, author, boys in the valley, book tour, nyc

The book starts with its protagonist, nine-year-old Peter, watching paralyzed as his father returns home drunk and faces scorn from his wife for not bringing the starving family any food.

Peter’s father, Jack, snaps. He murders his wife, he stares down his son, and then he turns the gun on himself.

It is the eerily realistic semblance of the defeated father losing it and the powerless boy that sees this play out, paralyzed and mortified, that captures people’s flaws and their humanity so well, and this knowledge shapes Peter, even as the event itself haunts him.

The way Fracassi writes the scene, you can feel how tired Peter’s father is when he “sits heavily” and takes off his battered hat. You get the feeling the man is, at the least, verbally abusive when he is in an angered state, and like the kettle that whistles in the home as Peter’s mother taunts her husband, Jack Barlow simmers on the page until, once boiled, he blows up.

Are the use of ‘Jack’ and ‘Barlow’ a nod to two of Stephen King’s earliest works?

Seven years later, Peter is among the kinder and older boys of St. Vincent’s Orphanage. He is training to become a priest under his friend and surrogate father figure, Father Andrew, and his insightfulness into the difficulties of life, at the orphanage and in general, makes him an interesting lens to watch the tragic story of BOYS IN THE VALLEY unfold.

Peter, now 16, has fallen in love with a neighboring farmer’s daughter, and he has to come to grips with his knowledge that his mentor, Father Andrew, thinks of him like a son, and that to tell Andrew that Peter will not complete his training and become a priest will likely break the man’s heart.

But Father Andrew is a fantastic character and one who continually reminds Peter, despite the priest’s own hopes, that it is Peter’s choice to make.

This is a beautiful display of affection that shines throughout the book and is not forgotten when Peter does not get to make that choice.

Life at the orphanage means strict adherence to the priests’ rules, daily farm work and meager meals that never fill any of the boys’ bellies.

The 30 boys living together act as brothers will, in both caring for one another, especially Peter looking out for the smaller and younger orphans, in entertaining one another, in ribbing one another, and in picking on one another.

Boys are curious.

But the more they learn of the priests’ attempt to heal a possessed man who is then killed and buried on the church grounds, the more a malevolent mood permeates many of them.

Peter’s best friend, another main character and a good foil that makes an impression, as the gruff, ever-cynical older boy, David, is stalwart throughout the book, a pillar that Peter can count on to show no fear. Until he cannot. And when David is afraid, Peter realizes just how wrong things have gone.

Fracassi writes: “David is not easily knocked off his course. He has walls within walls to keep himself insulated from things of the world . . . Any emotions he may or may not feel . . . are buried deep within him, visible only to his inner self . . . [But] to see him so visibly, dramatically shaken is like . . . the first time I saw my mother cry.” [BOYS IN THE VALLEY, Fracassi, Tor Nightfire, Earthling Publications, Orbit Books]

The entire passage is far more impactful than the condensed quote above, but you will just have to read the book, readers.

There are many more memorable characters, from Brother Johnson, the sadistic, lifelong criminal sentenced to serve the priests and therein is often the twisted enforcer of punishments for the boys, and then to Grace, the sweet love of Peter’s life who lends him a great work of fiction every time he visits her.

As the frosty fields are quickly covered with falling snow and then the fell wind of the incoming storm that grows and grows and, finally, blasts St. Vincent’s, so too does the evil follow in its wake.

The possessed boys carry out the most heinous of acts imaginable against their orphan-brothers.

Only the union of the resistant boys under Peter and David stand in the way of the demons.

Fracassi paints so many shades of black.

Though there are parallels between Blatty’s masterpiece THE EXORCIST, Stephen King’s IT, and BOYS IN THE VALLEY, when I think of this book, I keep coming back to two impactful coming-of-age tales: William Golding’s LORD OF THE FLIES and Kurt Vonnegut’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE.

The latter is a favorite of mine, and I would argue Billy Pilgrim as a young man dropped into WWII Germany grows enough to be a bildungsroman in its own right, just as much as Golding’s tale of boys surviving on their own devices does, if in different ways.

LORD OF THE FLIES pits one group of children against another in a poignant way that is echoed in Fracassi’s boys forming of two opposing sides.

Demonic possession has been depicted throughout culture as an evil being often self-describing itself as ‘many’ or ‘legion’ and in BOYS IN THE VALLEY, the demons that inhabited a child murderer spread, like a disease, so that a horrific army of possessed young boys is formed and bent on further infection of the clergy and their brethren boys and the world, and for any who resist they want only to maliciously harm them.

Dominance and survival are two of the qualities that seep from Golding and from Fracassi.

There are even two orphan boys that are so close in age and friendship, they are called brothers even though they are not related, and these two inseparable characters are pitted against one another in BOYS IN THE VALLEY and it is terrifically terrible.

End of SPOILER Warning*

The horrors of war, the sheer atrocities performed by humans pitted against humans, that Billy Pilgrim is caught in in Dresden, Germany are so harsh as to be revolting, which was the point: the writing is as real as the terrible acts of war were/are.

So too does BOYS IN THE VALLEY invoke violent depictions of its own deeply personal war. But this is also realism and writing at its most effective.

This is how these characters behave.

BOYS IN THE VALLEY sticks with you like a knife in the ribs: it never really goes away.

For horror fans, you may need to read this one in the warm light of the summer sun, because the darkness and the bitter cold stalks the reader, just as it daunts the characters in the book.

Yes, there are some brutal, graphic scenes in BOYS IN THE VALLEY, but they are reflective of the history that the story takes place in, as well as the realistic actions of the characters.

Fracassi’s tale is one you will happily reread even though it still hurts.

BOYS IN THE VALLEY, Philip Fracassi, horror, tor nightfire, orbit books, stephen king, Earthling Publications,

I was fortunate to receive an advanced review copy of this book to do a Preview Review of the Earthling Publications signed limited edition for Halloween 2021 that is a stunner, and I have reread the ARCs provided to me by Tor Nightfire and by Orbit Books to do this review to expound on BOYS IN THE VALLEY for their July 2023 release dates. The book is out NOW.

Philip Fracassi is on the BOYS IN THE VALLEY Signing Tour NOW.

Get your copy NOW, eager readers.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“BOYS IN THE VALLEY by Philip Fracassi is a chilling classic” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

philip fracassi, r.j. huneke, tff, author, boys in the valley, book tour, nyc

R.J. Huneke will also be conducting a live interview with Philip Fracassi on August 21st in advance of his New York City appearance later in the week. Stay Tuned!

 

 

This is How You Lose the Time War By Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone SOARS!

This is How You Lose the Time War By Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone SOARS!

THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone SOARS!

The Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards Winner for best novella, THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR represents some of the very best in innovative speculative fiction.

I read this book in a few days and was enamored with it!

The following is a SPOILER-FREE book review of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone.

The main characters Red and Blue are agents in a time war described best as traversing amongst myriad threats of history and tangled braids of the future.

Red and Blue are women, if not wholly humanoid, well that is for the reader to decide, and are from a distant future.

They are the best at what they do: marking threads, timelines, for destruction and/or control.

The fallout of their actions directly improves or harms entire cords of histories.

Upon becoming aware of one another’s opposition, Red and Blue begin a taunting, spiritual, revealing, and ultimately romantic correspondence through some extremely well-hidden and well-experienced letters (eating and reveling in Sumac seeds for one, savoring a scintillating pot of tea for another).

The prose from both authors is deeply poetic and philosophical, and is layered in quips, in new tech from the future, in new interpretations of past figures and events.

Red and Blue are deeply insightful people, and they challenge each other to grow even as they get to know one another via the letters.

To create this book, Max Gladstone wrote all of Red and Amal El-Mohtar wrote all of Blue’s chapters.

And so a brilliant use of unique personality naturally illuminates each character.

At first Red and Blue seem like they might snare one another.

Later, Red and Blue seem to have betrayed the time war itself.

The result is that each layer of the book unfolds and is more suspenseful, more delicate, more painful, and more invigorating than the last section.

El-Mohtar and Gladstone’s THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR is one of those pivotal works of sci-fi-fantasy, a classic that needs to be reread again and again to be fully realized.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“This is How You Lose the Time War By Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone SOARS!” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

 

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