Sacculina Paperback – 7 December 2020
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- Publisher : Lethe Press (7 December 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 90 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1590217349
- ISBN-13 : 978-1590217344
- Dimensions : 12.7 x 0.56 x 20.29 cm
- Customer Reviews:
"The story is exciting, and terrifically scary." -- The New York Times
"SACCULINA is a smart, terrifying, and poignant tale of creeping menace. I devoured it in one frenzied sitting... this Fracassi guy is damn good." -- Richard Chizmar
"Very scary...lean and nightmarish and uneasy...will definitely be reading more of this guy." -- Ben Loory
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Henry rents out a small boat for them to go on a fishing expedition.
"Ocean ain't never safe . . . "
Parts of the story showed an attempt that the younger men made at a light-hearted reunion, but since the untimely death of Henry Lowell's wife, Jack and Jim noticed the physical and mental decline in their father, despite his best efforts of levity.
". . . Sadness and loss did that to a man . . . Took from the inside out, so that by the time you saw the results it was too late to do anything about it . . . "
Once underway on the shipping vessel piloted by "Captain Don", the atmosphere begins to immediately become oppressive. Where we'd expect the ocean and sea air to give off a feeling of "freedom"--especially for Jack--instead an eerie premonition begins to build among the passengers, for no discernible reason.
". . . couldn't shake the sudden feeling that they were surrounded, in a menacing way . . . by endless water and unknown creatures . . . "
The characterization in this novella was top notch, I felt, where it mattered the most. I got the feeling that I truly understood this family, and everything they'd gone through. Their attempt at celebrating being together once again was bittersweet, as we can sense innately just how much they've already lost.
". . . Life was a merciless thief with a black heart, and you hoped it passed you by when scouting for its next victim . . . "
The voyage goes by at a steady pace, the uneasiness--and then terror--mounting inexorably as each new development occurs. The emotional attachment I had developed for this group never once wavered as its course continued.
". . . we fear the incomprehensible, we fear other life . . . always afraid of what might come next in the chain . . . "
Fracassi does an exceptional job at grabbing the readers' attention right from the start. Not only does he sustain this feeling, but somehow manages to increase our mental involvement throughout its entirety. Honestly, this is a novella you will want to read in a single sitting, as to put it down feels like "abandoning" this small, but emotionally vibrant crew.
The prose here alternates between periods of "narrating the events" and profound, thought-provoking comments that seep into your brain and make so much "sense" that you wonder if the thoughts had been there all along, just without the benefit of this soulful articulation.
"The hardest part of losing someone . . . It's not the losing that hurt me the most . . . It was the d----- going on."
Overall, a very impressive introduction to a new-to-me author, and one whose work I will immediately be looking up for more. This novella contained everything I could have asked for in a great read: a riveting tale, realistic characters that you feel for, an atmosphere that progressively intensifies--keeping you glued to the pages--and a creepy new menace that easily sends chills down your spine.
First and foremost, we think it is important to know what the word “Sacculina” means by definition.
Sacculina — A genus of barnacles that is a parasitic castrator of crabs, “body-snatching parasites.”
If this gives any credence to potential readers, know that such a vile and frightening name fits perfectly as the title of this novella.
As with Fragile Dreams, Fracassi effortlessly crafts a storytelling narrative that is impossible to put down once the first page is read. His unique use of language carries the reader through terror that is anchored by realistic interaction and characters. The novella, much like his last, is written in a structure that complements the tones and settings of the plot.
Fracassi once again shows his prowess in carrying a story with the human element, exposing the traumas of characters vividly and using these aspects to juxtapose, yet again, another novella that breathes with each page turned and whose heart beats stronger after each section read. The decision to not have chapters was risky, but in the end was clearly an inspired choice as it only magnifies the growing terror aboard the sinking ship these characters find themselves upon.
More so than Fragile Dreams, Sacculina finds itself smack dab in the center of “weird,” subtle Lovecraftian themes of terrors deep below and the insignificance of human life cooking on the back burner, while desperation and survival take the forefront. Unlike most authors working today, Fracassi has a gift for seamlessly intertwining impacting moments of characters’ lives with pertinence to the present.
There is not a moment throughout the novella that feels forced or unbelievable. The father, Henry, awash with grief and guilt; Jim, the youngest, clinging on to hope in nearly every situation; Jack, the eldest, a character with a questionable past that leaks into who he has grown to be as a man, and Chris, the best friend of Jack, a stubborn child who loves Jack despite his also questionable personality. Even the captain is brought to life, his mannerisms and behavior vivid, plausible. The settings painted with Fracassi’s fast-paced but often poetic language nail images into the reader’s head that stick like glue, embodying the story with a rich environment of the deep ocean and the perils below.
There are moments of sheer horror in the novella, others of blind joy, and several that will sink the stomachs of readers with debilitating sorrow. Sacculina improves on Fragile Dreams, knowing at its epicenter what it is and never straying from that understanding. A story that uses its small scale to the best of advantages, Sacculina is a chronicle of how grief can destroy families, the unwavering hope for retribution that follows, and the eventual inevitable flinching of life’s events that aim to split the wounds, rather than stitching them shut.
We highly recommend Sacculina to any reader who enjoys horror with heart and emotional connections to characters that are often underdeveloped and overlooked in the genre. We also cannot wait to dive into Behold the Void, as Fracassi continues to pave his way as an impressive writer who bears unique qualities in his craft.
-The Gehenna Post
I believe this is the longest piece I have read by the author clocking in at 109 pages. I am open to reading something longer but this seems to be the authors comfort zone and he is strong in it. The book centers around a fractured family on a whimsical fishing trip from hell. There is a lot crammed into the 109 pages but the action and what is left unsaid help the story flow at a solid pace throughout. I have noticed literary themes of relationship tension and family dynamics in some of Fracassi’s stories which he is extremely adept at. So like many top-notch weird fiction writers, Fracassi has literary chops as well as an extensive imagination
As I said, already becoming a big fan over here, especially coming off reading the author’s incredible full collection. Sacculina just solidified my fandom even more. I think I have one more novella from Fracassi on my shelf that I can pick up but otherwise, I hope he will be dropping more work in 2018.
I know it sounds flippant, but that's all there really is to this story. I like some of Fracassi's other writing, but this one is just...OK. He does a good job illustrating his characters (the father sad over the death of his wife, the troubled older brother, etc.) but the plot isn't unpredictable and the barnacly gore-fest not that astounding if you've read other stories of this type. I got what I paid for so I'll give it 4 stars, but you may wanna give it 3 if you've read a lot of these sorts of tales before :P