Book Review: Sacculina by Philip Fracassi

Fracassi sets the hook into a reader’s imagination, and as he reels the reader in through creeping dread and all-too possible darkness, you’ll soon understand that there is no escape.”

In his latest novella, Sacculina, rising author Philip Fracassi lures readers out into the middle of the ocean and does what he does best–scares the hell out of them.

Jim is roped into a family fishing trip when his older brother, Jack, gets out of prison. They’re both aware that their father, Henry, has been drowning in loneliness since his wife (their mother) died, and Jim is hoping that the fishing trip might be just what Henry needs to come back to them–even though none of them have fished much before. With Chris–Jack’s childhood friend and partner-in-crime–and a world-weary boat captain thrumming with violence, the men embark on a day trip out into the Pacific, hoping for the best. But this is a Fracassi story, it doesn’t take that keen a reader to feel the tension rising, and to know there will be a reckoning. From the first catch, the story builds like a storm and the waves rise and crash and … well, we can’t go into spoilers, now can we?

There is a purpose to Fracassi’s prose. He sets the hook into a reader’s imagination, and as he reels the reader in through creeping dread and all-too possible darkness, they’ll soon understand that there is no escape. The rushing horror is exactly where Fracassi wants them to go. His prose is strong and confident, without any extraneous subplots or false conflict. There are opportunities that arise where he could pad the story, but Fracassi resists. He knows what he’s doing.

Fracassi stories aren’t for those desperate for instant gratification–and even though it’s a quick read, he values a slow burn, compelling a reader through character growth rather than the cheap thrills of a jump-scare. He’s from the film industry, and understands the audience has certain needs, but Sacculina is more of an A24 arthouse horror film than a schlocky B-movie hoping for a quick buck. The potential is there–Fracassi knows the tropes–but he’s reserved with his execution, building a story that has more emotional resonance and a more satisfying ending.

Philip Fracassi is one of those names that will keep popping up to any fans of modern horror. Not only is he relentless with his output, but every published work seems to be getting better and better. Following fast on the heels of Fragile Dreams and his first collection, Behold the Void, Sacculina, is not only a damned fine yarn but a perfect gateway drug into Philip Fracassi’s fiction–and we promise you that when you’ve had a taste you’ll be begging for more.

JAKE MARLEY

 

Publisher: JournalStone
Paperback: (112pp)
Release Date: 12 May 2017

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