As a member of the Horror Writers’ Association (HWA) I am privileged to be solicited to read numerous writings that have been nominated for the Bram Stoker Awards. Altar by Philip Fracassi is nominated in the “Long Fiction” category.
I read Altar last night in (as is my fashion) the ‘wee smalls.’ I found it to be compelling read. The setting for the story is a local municipal swimming pool. Now, if you, like me, were a kid in the late 50’s to early 60’s, living in a town like Dearborn, Michigan, you know these pools quite well. And the description of the facility in Altar fits my memory to a tee. As I read, I could visualize, in minute detail, the locker rooms and the pool itself, with its concrete apron, shallow and deep ends, divided by a braided rope strewn with colorful floats. So accurate is Fracassi’s description, I could almost smell the chlorine.
But Altar describes something more than just a hot summer afternoon at the local pool. No, this story is infused with a creeping dread that, as you read, intensifies slowly and deliberately, keeping you on the edge of your seat, knowing that something really bad is going to happen.
Since this is not a full-blown novel, I’m not going to go into plot and characterization in this review. Suffice to say, this book grabbed me and I could not put it down.
Thank you, Mr. Fracassi for the opportunity to read this spine-chilling story.
Five big shiny stars and one recommendation for the 2016 Bram Stoker Award in Long Fiction.