DR. FUTURITY By Philip K. Dick Is An Oft Overlooked Gem

DR. FUTURITY By Philip K. Dick Is An Oft Overlooked Gem

DR. FUTURITY by Philip K. Dick is an oft overlooked gem that delves deep into the history, psyche, religion, and realities tied to humanity.

This is one of PKD’s earliest novels and publications, and while many relegate this to atypical 1950s science-fiction, albeit with more style, Dick’s DR. FUTURITY not only unleashes a compelling narrative full of page-turning urgency, but there is vast profundity here.

Make no mistake, there are powerful metaphors – thinly veiled or blatantly announced on the page – that deeply questions the history and methodology of society.

DR. FUTURITY, pkd, philip k. dick, sci-fi, science-fiction, centipede press, limited edition

For a sub-250-page sci-fi thriller, I was astounded by DR. FUTURITY.

As the title implies, time travel is the method for which this story moves.

Philip K. Dick wields time travel like a scalpel, it cuts efficiently and effectively.

The science is plausible and neither detracts from the plot, nor adds any superfluousness.

But what quickly becomes apparent is the startling depth to which Dr. Jim Parsons witnesses, questions, and philosophizes about the future of humankind.

DR. FUTURITY, pkd, philip k. dick, sci-fi, science-fiction, centipede press, limited edition

The follow book review of DR. FUTURITY by Philip K. Dick contains SPOILERS**

Time travel in this context is a fun means to explore the many faults of patriarchal society that has so damaged and imprinted humanity that civilization is warped and struggling to atone for and recover from the wrongful subjugation of people for centuries upon centuries.

The hundreds of years of racism, colonialism, and enslavement that occurs to target women and anyone that is not white creates ripples throughout time that prove extremely difficult to undo.

To counter the periods of racist, patriarchal years, Parsons finds himself in a future matriarchal system that so values the future inhabitants of the world that there is a systemic ban on free will to procreate, or even to age.

They revere death, not unlike the Ancient Egyptians, and each of the young’s demise may lead to their seeds growing better future generations, literally.

DR. FUTURITY, pkd, philip k. dick, sci-fi, science-fiction, centipede press, limited edition

As Parsons realizes the extent of the societal sickness, Dick writes: “And, underneath it all, the ethos of death. A system devoted to the extinction of the individual, for the sake of the future.”

Here is a brilliant critique of the patriarchal religions of Abraham and their emphasis on sacrificing individuality and even one’s own life to revel in the promise of a bright future for the next generation.

As Parsons tries and fails to save the people’s cryogenically frozen leader, it occurs to him that the leader’s own zealotry is his downfall.

“How close the idealist, with his fanatical passion, was to the mentally disturbed,” Parsons thinks, as Dick sends home the message.

The ravings of the zealots that wish to subjugate others, whether in active slavery, or in passive societal constraints on the individual, lead to dangerously warped futures, even ones where incest is a possible downfall.

In a clear and coherent time travel tale, Dick offers up a world-building of future realities that have the grit under the fingernails, the acrid smells that jar the characters on their journey.

DR. FUTURITY, pkd, philip k. dick, sci-fi, science-fiction, centipede press, limited edition

And right at the top matching all of the critiques, is a blatant call to arms for all people to allow women the right to choose what they do with their bodies – and men as well, as they are sterilized without choice in this far future – and Dick praises the doctors and medical professionals that Dr. Jim Parsons represents.

So much so, that Parsons inspires his own children, born unbeknown to him in the future, to form an effective illegal group hellbent on giving the right to choose to everyone and it will prevail in future elections.

“The group distributed inflammatory propaganda, demanding the end of euthanors and a resumption of natural birth – and at the very least, the freedom of women to conceive and give birth, or to turn their zygote over . . . if they preferred. The element of choice.” [Philip K. Dick, DR. FUTURITY]

There is a flawed protagonist, in Parsons, in DR. FUTURITY, and there is a love story here involving him, as he was eons away from his wife.

And though the plot is not wholly unexpected in this book, the depth with which the main characters sheers modern society’s actions – in the past and in the future – is truly fresh, surprising, and impactful.

DR. FUTURITY, pkd, philip k. dick, sci-fi, science-fiction, centipede press, limited edition

A note on the Centipede Press numbered edition of DR. FUTURITY:

As I previously reviewed The Cosmic Puppets by Philip K. Dick and its signed limited edition, it was one of the three books included in the CP boxed set, the second being DR. FUTURITY.

This book has a brilliant introduction by Michael Swanwick who candidly goes through Dick’s early life that led up to the writing of this book.

There are fantastic photos of the author himself, as well as the plethora of great book cover art that backed the title throughout the years.

The binding is full cloth with a foil stamped PKD signature on the front board, and the paper as well as the print quality is of the highest order.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)!


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“DR. FUTURITY By Philip K. Dick Is An Oft Overlooked Gem” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

DR. FUTURITY, pkd, philip k. dick, sci-fi, science-fiction, centipede press, limited edition

 

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!

 

 

A Sleight Of Shadows By Kat Howard Ups The Ante

A Sleight Of Shadows By Kat Howard Ups The Ante

A Sleight Of Shadows By Kat Howard ups the ante, as the fate of magic and the many lives surrounding it are in grave peril.

The magic is fighting back!

A Sleight Of Shadows is the exciting second book in the Unseen World Series and the follow-up to Kat Howard’s Edgar-award winning An Unkindness Of Magicians.

One of the Unseen World’s most powerful magicians, Sydney, finds herself bereft of nearly all magical ability.

She can with the greatest effort just barely light a candle.

Meanwhile, the New York City secret society of magical houses are cracking at the seams, spells are misfiring, and the corruption of the House of Shadows is still intertwined in magic itself.

Sydney thought she had destroyed Shadows, but that magical force is tipping the scales and doing all it can to rebuild.An Unkindness of Magicians, kat howard, a sleight of shadows, unseen world series, fantasy, thriller

The stakes could not be higher, as the Unseen World languishes and its chief defender, in Sydney, is powerless to fight magic with magic.

Regardless, the fantastic character that Howard creates is resolved to end the threat any way she can. She is smart, adept at planning her moves as though she plays a great chess match, and her willfulness is unmatched.

How can you not root for a character like Sydney?

Once again, the world building in the Unseen World is top-notch and delivers the vibrant, realistic, and vivid magical universe to life in A Sleight Of Shadows.

Howard’s prose is brilliant – it scintillates.

Here is a passage I love:

Once they arrived, Dahlia stopped. She took in the place. The slow, inexorable movement of the stones searching for wholeness. The stale, ancient scent of the air and the earth that blanketed so many dead. The electric hum of power vibrated around them. Potential. Waiting. [Howard, Kat, A Sleight Of Shadows, Gallery/Saga, 2023, page 158]

Check out our interview with Kat Howard discussing The Unseen World Series:

Mild SPOILER Warning for A Sleight Of Shadows and An Unkindness Of Magicians

Sydney thought that in sacrificing her own shadow, and all of her magic, that she had fully destroyed the House of Shadows and its evil vines of magic that had gripped the Unseen World using the power of sacrificed children’s bones.

But she was wrong.

The magic in the Unseen World has its own will and its own balance that the last Turning had thrown way off kilter, and the House of Shadows filled a needed void.

Shadows had its own will, to feed and to exist, and its magic fought back.

The island built on bone that Shadows resided on worked to rebuild.

And a new forest of trees with bones at its center, the unremembered and unrevered dead magicians that had died being leached by Shadows, rises up in Central Park moaning for recognition.

Many of the great elements from the first book of the series are expanded upon and explored.

The heart of magic itself, the founding of the first houses, reveals itself to Sydney in the Archives and it is the weavings of ancient spells and the very finger bones of the founders that are the foundation of the Unseen World that is in peril.

Other magicians seek their own easy way to magic, with no cost, that renewing the House of Shadows will bring them.

Despite the cost of sacrificing their own children to Shadows, the ability to freely wield magic appeals to many in the magical world.

The pull is so strong that Dahlia convinces Mia, a teenager, newly brought into the Unseen World to join with Shadows.

The child willingly begins to feed and strengthen Shadows.

And Sydney needs to bring down the house without harming Mia.

A Sleight Of Shadows is chilling and tense, mired in magical darkness.

A couple of beloved characters from the series are lost in the book, as the thrilling page-turner casts an ‘all bets are off’ layer to the plot.

The physical houses of the Unseen World’s families show their personality, which is a lot of fun, and their ability to aid their family magically comes into play and is vital.

The theme of sacrifice, whether to properly cast magic, or to achieve goals in life, in general, is strong and effective.

The only thing I was disappointed about in A Sleight Of Shadows is that it did not have a Turning and any of the medieval magician duels, and then, lo and behold, the sacred hierarchy to reside in and control the Unseen World used mortal contests to settle some outcomes, and a revitalized Sydney is called upon once more to show her magical prowess.

What Sydney does in the duel is surprising, though planned perfectly, and makes the ending a gripping ride with a far-reaching fallout.

It is the perfect conclusion to a phenomenal tale.

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“A Sleight Of Shadows By Kat Howard ups the ante” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

 

 

 

The Hunter By Julia Leigh: A Worthwhile Read

The Hunter By Julia Leigh: A Worthwhile Read

The Hunter by Julia Leigh: a worthwhile read.

Okay wow. I loved this book.

This Australian author plows through the gate like a powerful young mare with her debut novel set in the rugged wilderness of Tasmania.

The premise is mysterious and intriguing right off the bat and centers around a search for the last remaining thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger or Tasi tiger) in existence.

The Tasi Tiger was officially declared extinct in 1986 after fifty years with no confirmed sightings in the wild.

However, in the years since its disappearance, this unusual animal, that was neither cat nor dog but in fact a marsupial—who sported a prehistoric jaw structure and pouch-carried it’s young—has borne legendary status in The Land Down Under.

Countless sightings have been claimed by natives of the small island state located 240 km south of the Australian mainland. Though evidence for the thylacine’s extinction is staggering, the powerful force of imagination and hunger for mystery have resurrected the Tasi Tiger to new life.

The Aussie folklore that undergirds the story of M, our fearless and unnamed hunter who enters and slowly becomes a part of the beautiful landscape of the Tasmanian wilderness, injects an electric current that forces the reader to turn page, after page, after page.

It hits that nerve that we all are prey to, that nerve for mystery that grasps onto your ankle with an unshakable grip.

The fact that no one can say for certain that one—or maybe two—of these beautiful creatures haven’t somehow survived all these years in the deep forest, unseen…is just plain exciting.

Life, as Dr. Ian Malcolm so aptly states in Crichton’s Jurassic Park, will find a way. And we certainly hope that it has!

In The Hunter, M has been hired by a large biotech corporation to find the last living thylacine so they can harvest its DNA for some nefarious purpose, and a race is on to find her before the competition does.

Mild Plot Spoilers for The Hunter by Julia Leigh.

To keep this mission secret, M, masquerades as a zoologist from a university in Sydney studying Tasmanian Devils.

A rural property—chosen for its proximity to the escarpment where M embarks on several multi-day trips to conduct his ‘research’—serves as his basecamp where he returns from the wild to resupply and log his progress in between treks.

The ramshackle house, plunked in the middle of what used to be a working farm but has since fallen into disuse, is occupied by the recently widowed, Lucy, and her two small children.

Initially, M only interacts with the children as Lucy remains unseen, secluded to her bedroom in a prescription pill-induced-coma, a move of self-preservation in which she attempts to sleep off the crippling grief of the death of her husband.

Her ascent to putting M up in her home was a decision made out of necessity, the included stipend paramount to keeping what remains of her world from complete collapse.

The older of the children—whom M pegs at about eleven or twelve—has assumed the role of house-manager during Lucy’s chemical absence. She cooks meals, takes care of her brother, and promises to call in the search party if M misses his return date.

They have taken the liberty of assuming new names while they live in this unique interlude from normal life. The older goes by the handle Sass, and her younger brother hails by Bike. These two might just be the hidden gem of the story.

The characters are real, each one unique and lovable. Their flaws define them and give them a tangible humanity, and yet, in such a short story, they also achieve sensible growth and change.

Leigh’s prose is fantastic. [Spoiler Warning Ended]

It’s concise and crisp, not one unnecessary word left in the final manuscript. This author took to heart the axiom that William Strunk Jr. coined over a century ago; omit needless words.

The choice to write the story in the present tense also adds to the urgency of the narrative. It removes that comfort, that feeling that everything must end up okay in the end, had it been written as if M was telling us a story that has already happened.

As we are experiencing the story in real time with the hunter, we share his emotions in real time. This keeps that current at a steady jolt that—like an electric shock—locks your fingers and thumbs together on each side of the open book.

I love the way Leigh effortlessly moves between scenes.

In as few words as possible she gracefully moves the plot without leaving the reader wondering where he is or how he got there.

With a skilled hand, Leigh chooses the perfect details to describe and the perfect ones to leave out. The author writing this review is certainly taking notes.    

Like the thylacine, this book has remained largely unseen. Hidden in libraries and bookstores, a single copy wedged between, and overshadowed by, volumes of Steig Larrson, D.H. Lawrence, and John le Carre.

You will not experience a minute wasted with this little buzzer. It’s a great one to insert into the queue especially after a longer tome, when you’re feeling a little tired out and aren’t quite ready to commit to another thousand-pager.

Thanks for reading. Now go read The Hunter!

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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The Hunter by Julia Leigh, The Hunter, Julia Leigh, Tasmania

“The Hunter By Julia Leigh: A Worthwhile Read” was written by Kyle Helmer.

 

 

Gothic By Philip Fracassi-Beware Of The Madness Within

Gothic By Philip Fracassi-Beware Of The Madness Within

Gothic by Philip Fracassi – beware of the madness within these pages, because it may unravel your soul.

There are few books that come along – and I usually read many books at once – that demand all of my attention, and I cannot put them down, and Gothic by Philip Fracassi was one of these.

The thrilling tale of Gothic’s Tyson Parks and his world, packs a hell of a bite.

The characters are so real you can hear their voices and recall their mannerisms. The writing is fantastically tight and visual, the impacts of violent scenes visceral.

For fans of horror and thrillers that hold back no punches, Gothic is a rare treat.

Gothic, gothic by philip fracassi, philip fracassi, horror, earthling publications

Spoiler Alert for Gothic by Philip Fracassi.

The world-building is extremely well done, as Fracassi paints the posh and the dimmer corners of New York City alongside a publishing world that is genuine, down to the minute details, like the contractual obligation to deliver on a novel’s pitch.

And this is entirely necessary to go along with what is almost certainly a haunted desk that hints at being so much more.

Fracassi presents Gothic in such a way that I might have walked past the same swanky antique store on my way home and seen the corner of a mammoth antique desk there and felt its allure before a chill went down my spine and sent me on my way.

The best-selling author, Tyson Parks, who is out of money and time and inspiration is gifted an antique black oak desk, like no other, that immediately becomes a miraculous muse.

As the tragedy of Tyson, who begins to write rampantly and display violent behavior wholly unlike himself, progresses, with more success meeting more hints at madness, Gothic‘s story unfolds bloodily and brilliantly.

There is a steady build-up that grows faster and faster, until the plot’s rollercoaster car flies down from the track’s summit at blistering speed with many exhilarating and scary twists and turns that form an epic conclusion.

The desk is hungry!

The very first writing marathon that Tyson takes at his new desk causes cracks in his fingertips that bleed. And whenever blood touches the desk and its centerpiece, a massive stone surface, it is absorbed and a sacrificial contract of sorts gets underway.

As the time goes on, more and more blood is fed to the desk, and the carved ivy branches lift from the desk’s surface and slip into the author’s veins.

Though Tyson does not remember what he wrote, exactly, his next book becomes a bigger best-seller than he has ever had.

Despite that, his agency begs him to dial down the rampant violence in his next project, The Horror, and to take out the unsavory elements that fly in the face of many 21st century readers’ morals.

Tyson, enthralled by the desk, and incessantly listening to the old blind wizard that speaks to him from it, goes off on his agency and threatens to walk if his written word is ever questioned again.

He is a multimillionaire and god-like among his world.

But as he discovers at the book launch party for his newest book, the text has inspired madness, suicides, violence, and cult-like reverence that he never intended. He does not even remember the parts of the book that are referenced as causing harm.

Even after losing his family to the desk’s murderous influence, losing his own mind, life, and seemingly his own soul, he – or the spirit of the desk, maybe – writes one final manuscript.

Because he is completely in the hold of the desk, and he cannot stop himself from going to it.

That final work of Tyson’s arrives completed at his agent, Harry’s, office, and Harry who has already succumb to alcoholism and drug addiction as a means to cope with Tyson’s work, starts to read the book, titled Gothic; will it fully unravel his mind?

Not since Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness does a character, like Gothic’s Tyson Parks, tragically reach such megalomaniacal heights that the overthrown mind crumbles and the realization of their lost humanity comes only at the moment of their bitter demise.

As Conrad’s Kurtz sees the darkness about him and within him, he can only mutter, The horror. The horror, as he dies. For Fracassi’s Tyson, the irreparable inward degradation is only made fully apparent to him as the literal cause of his fate in the ancient relic – now a desk – kills him, and at that moment a door opens in it to an alternate plane of existence where a leviathan’s jaws emerge to utterly consume his soul.

Want to question your own grip on sanity? On reality? There is a book for you called Gothic by Philip Fracassi.

For those looking to keep themselves up at night, afraid that some artifact in their home, a desk, a table, maybe, might be haunted and hungry and so much worse, Gothic will oblige.

On Gothic’s Limited Edition

Gothic, gothic by philip fracassi, philip fracassi, horror, earthling publications

In 2022, Earthling Publications released the first printing of Gothic by Philip Fracassi in a gorgeous signed limited edition.

Gothic, gothic by philip fracassi, philip fracassi, horror, earthling publications

Earthling has long held some of the best small press releases in the industry, and this is no exception.

Gothic, gothic by philip fracassi, philip fracassi, horror, earthling publications

With the art, from the gorgeous desk on the cover, by Glenn Chadbourne, to the interior layouts and the lavender textured endpapers, to the quality paper and Smyth-sewn binding, this is a work of art encasing a work of art.

Gothic, gothic by philip fracassi, philip fracassi, horror, earthling publications

In 2023, Gothic – with another badass cover – was released en masse and is available by Cemetery Dance for purchase now. Philip Fracassi’s next major release Boys in the Valley will hit shelves in Summer 2023!

Gothic, gothic by philip fracassi, philip fracassi, horror, earthling publications

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Gothic By Philip Fracassi – Beware Of The Madness Within” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

 

 

Nat Cassidy’s Mary: An Awakening of Terror

Nat Cassidy’s Mary: An Awakening of Terror

Nat Cassidy’s Mary: An Awakening of Terror – After losing her job in New York, a chance call brings Mary back to her hometown to take care of her sick aunt Nadine. However, this is not a welcome change of pace as Mary has been suffering in silence from ghastly visions of her own body decaying and the town brings up painful memories from the past. It does not help that Mary soon finds herself surrounded by the ghosts of murdered women, thrusting her back into her past to discover why they are plaguing her and the mystery behind the mangled apparitions that are inexplicably drawn to her.

Nat Cassidy's Mary, Nat Cassidy, Mary

What makes Nat Cassidy’s Mary such an enticing read is the author’s ability to balance shocking material through a strong character.

The following book review contains mild spoilers for Mary’s character..

Certainly, the book has elements of body and supernatural horror with Mary having visions of her body decaying while haunted by the ghosts of past victims, yet these subjects become disturbing because of who Mary is as a person and not because of the sensational imagery Cassidy is so skilled at crafting. Instead, Mary’s life of extreme introversion, always trying to make herself as small as possible, transforms these visions into a personal reflection of suffering.

The result is a very approachable form of horror storytelling, where it is easy to get wrapped up in the mystery of Mary’s background and her internal struggles. These elements are equal to indulgences in macabre material in evoking a sense of dread from the reader. This broadens the appeal to not just the hardcore horror readership.

To touch on the more horror-heavy elements, Cassidy brilliantly taps into the paranoia of his character, and the description of bodily decay or mangled ghosts manages to both play on Mary’s own insecurities while being very graphic in detail. This is a case where psychological horror would fit the bill better in describing the horror elements, despite it being very focused on elements that may seem more apt in horror that is hyperfocused on the degradation of the body and mind.

This is further echoed in the relationships of those around Mary, as the visions, arguably, play a secondary role in her own internal strife. Monologue plays an integral role in the story, and Mary’s interactions with the townsfolk and her overbearing aunt, Nadine, create a sense of tragedy in the character that rivals the intensity of terror.

This approach also does lead to the one negative in the work. Mary is a difficult character to empathize with at times as her immensely introverted nature gives the character a slightly nihilistic edge (at points).

As the story progresses and more is revealed about her past these ruminations begin to make sense, yet Mary is a hard character to connect with on a personal level–even as an introvert myself. This may vary by reader, and as the book reaches its conclusion after a few meticulously constructed twists this becomes an afterthought.

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Furthermore, Mary is a complex character, and even if there is a lack of connection on a level that evokes empathy/sympathy she is a fascinating persona that reflects the immense talent of Cassidy in bringing Mary to the pages.

This release certainly takes some intense twists in the story, and while I would love to explore how the elements of horror transform to even switch from the early genre of supernatural horror into something deeply sinister, the narrative is best left to be discovered by the reader. Regardless, the book will certainly draw in readers of both horror and mystery with how it develops–that experience is definitely best left as unspoiled as possible.

Coming away from Mary: An Awakening of Terror the only critique I could muster was how Mary does not always feel like an empathetic character. Though, whether this was the point is moot when looking at the exceptional skill Cassidy has to weave a mystery with heavy macabre tones that keep the pages turning. A deeply disturbing read that works for both fans of horror and mystery, Mary is a unique exercise in terror where social interactions hold as much weight as a bloodied apparition–a must-read!

Mary: An Awakening in Terror is now available for pre-order through VJ Books.

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Nat Cassidy’s Mary: An Awakening of Terror” was written by Adam Symchuk.

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