Altar by Philip Fracassi

altarOur story begins in the sweltering height of summer, with a trip for Gary; his older sister, Abby; and their mother, Martha, to a swimming pool. It’s nostalgic, as most of us have made that same trip as children, even down to the memory of painfully hot sun-heated car seats. The author provides a detailed reminiscence of the pool experience. As tranquil as it is, we know something bad is going to happen. Unfortunately for Gary’s family, the shared and loved experience doesn’t last long.

The focus of the story is a little unusual as it’s mostly from the perspective of a couple of young boys, Gary and another boy at the pool, Tyler. Their perspective really adds to the tone. When the threat at the pool becomes apparent, it is incredibly tense and gripping as events play out. There is something so primal about fear for children, and especially your own children, that fills this book with dread. This story may do for swimming pools what Jaws did for the ocean.

This is a short novelette, but the author still effectively creates the leads and develops their relationships and backstory enough that we sympathize and care about them. Gary and Abby have a sibling bond that I imagine any brother and sister would desire. What we have here is a highly enjoyable dose of cosmic horror that sucks you in for a compelling ride without relying on gore or cheap scares to make it impactful.

This is an author to watch! Find out more: https://pfracassi.com/

9/10

Book Cover Blurb:

The nostalgia of a child’s summer afternoon can be intoxicating. Tinkling ice cream trucks, games in the yard, young love, swimming pools. For one young boy and his family, days like these can be heaven.

Dream-like.

Like any dream, however, things can change. Heavens can fall into darkness, games turn deadly, love become hate. And the seemingly safest places of our world – filled with that sweet, sky-blue nostalgia – can curdle and implode, tearing the dream, and those caught inside it, to shreds.