Mother by Philip Fracassi
Philip Fracassi is a relatively new voice on the horror scene, lurking along the fence line that marks where "traditional horror" and "Weird horror" meets. The man lets his dogs water both lawns, so to speak.
With his first chapbook, Mother, a man and his wife move to the country. Their marriage is strained and he is full of a myriad of reasons and thoughts as to why this is happening. His artist wife grows increasingly distant and withdrawn. He urges her to rekindle her passion for painting and cast aside the yoke of depression she feels at their life. She agrees and takes furtive steps towards this...spidery steps.
Without giving much away, this short read is full of palpable dread. The emotions rendered here are realistic and very human. There's hopelessness and guilt, blame and regret all twisted in fibrous webbing to catch us up when we want to sprint to quickly ahead of the story. The ending is a slap across the face.
Altar BY PHILIP FRACASSI
With this second novelette, Fracassi comes out swinging again. A splintered family outing to the local pool is the somewhat normal setting for a story that ends up as far from typical as it can be. A woman who happens to be the mother of two children but really just wants to do her own thing, takes them to the pool for some sun and fun. The brooding teenage Abby is the only one who seems to care and dote on her younger brother, Gary. Once at the pool they begin their childish rituals. Wading and splashing, talking with friends, but unknown the them there is a crack at the bottom of the pool. A crack in the bottom of the world and what is about to enter is monstrous.
Again, as with his other chapbook, the characters are richly drawn and quite like someone you probably know. The everyday events are tinted with a gray of unease as we watch the simple things slowly bind and mutate into a terrifying beast of a tale. One that leaves you dripping and scared on the cold concrete edge of the pool.
Both of these books are available from the fine folks at Dunham's Manor Press.