Philip Fracassi’s Boys in the Valley – a chilling blend of The Exorcist, Lord of the Flies, and Midnight Mass – will be published by Nightfire in Summer 2023!
St. Vincent’s Orphanage for Boys.
Turn of the century, in a remote valley in Pennsylvania.
Here, under the watchful eyes of several priests, 30 boys work and learn and worship. They live their lives in a methodical way and get along despite different personalities and pasts. Peter Barlow, orphaned by a nighttime murder at his childhood home, has made a new life here. As he approaches adulthood, he has friends, a future… a family.
Then, late one stormy night, a group of men arrive at their door, one of whom is badly wounded, his body covered with occult symbols carved into his flesh. Upon his death, an ancient evil is released that infests St. Vincent’s and the children within. Soon, boys begin acting differently, forming groups. Taking sides.
Others turn up dead.
Now Peter and those dear to him must choose sides of their own, each of them knowing their lives — and perhaps their eternal souls — are at risk.
Here’s what Philip Fracassi has to say:
“When I first came up with the idea of Boys in the Valley, I was working as a hand-to-mouth screenwriter out of our rental home’s unfinished garage, a bare bulb hanging over my desk, a space heater at my feet, and an aged laptop at my fingertips. I wrote the outline of Peter’s story during most of that winter and then, with the arrival of spring and a shift back to full-time employment (sorry, screenwriting), I promptly left it behind. Or so I thought.
The characters of Peter, David, Bartholomew, Brother Johnson (especially him), continued to fester and grow in my brain, slip into my dreams, barge through cerebral doors to infest my more contemplative moments. Their world—that remote orphanage, that damnable hole—became a haunting specter in my everyday life, an alternate dimension I could see out of the corner of my eye, begging me to turn and look at it, head-on. So, finally, I did, and found myself falling like a flame-streaked meteor to smash, once more, into that rural valley, landing dead center in the heart of St. Vincent’s Orphanage.
I wrote the first draft of Boys over a feverish four weeks during the 2020 lockdown, taking breaks when needed (say, for sleep), but otherwise almost frustrated at my clumsy fingers for not typing fast enough, so eager was the story to leap out of my head and onto the page.
And now (several revisions later), the book is ready for all to see. I’m excited for readers to experience the harrowing story of these orphans; to meet Peter, David, and Grace. To jump in the horse-pulled wagon with Father Andrew, or feel the damp cold seeping through their thin clothes while trapped in the hole with Bartholomew. Now that the doors are open to all, I hope folks will enjoy their stay at St. Vincent’s, and learn to love these characters—both good and bad—as much as I do.”
And from Kristin Temple, associate editor at Nightfire:
“Boys in the Valley is an absolute feast for horror fans, and I devoured it in one sitting. Philip brings together many beloved horror tropes and executes them with a deft hand and a true knack for atmosphere. Coming-of-age, found family, demonic possession, exorcisms, creepy children, crushing isolation… Boys in the Valley has it all.
This reads like a modern classic, in a way that feels grounded in the familiar, yet utterly fresh and exciting. Philip has taken elements from classics like The Shining, Lord of the Flies, The Exorcist, and IT and molded them into a powerful coming-of-age story that was impossible for me to put down. I’m so excited to be bringing Philip to Nightfire, and can’t wait for readers to get their hands on Boys in the Valley!”
Praise for Boys in the Valley
“Gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and terrifying.” —Andy Davidson, author of The Boatman’s Daughter
“A gothic, gory Lord of the Flies… The horror here is as much a warning on the dangers of human corruption as a testament to hope in the face of nigh-insurmountable darkness…Horror readers will be hooked.” —Publishers Weekly
“A tale that will truly frighten, unnerve, and touch readers’ hearts…a beautiful novel that should be — will likely be — remembered as one of the best of the young decade.” —Cemetery Dance Online
“Fast-paced, relentless, and chilling without ever neglecting the human side of the proceedings. This is pure horror that should satisfy any fan of the genre.” —Jeffrey Thomas, author of The American
“This is the scariest coming of age horror I’ve read since Stephen King’s IT.”–Sadie Hartmann (aka ‘Mother Horror’)
PHILIP FRACASSI is the author of the award-winning story collection, Behold the Void, which won “Best Collection of the Year” from both This Is Horror and Strange Aeons Magazine. His Stoker-nominated collection, Beneath a Pale Sky, was published in Summer 2021 by Lethe Press. His upcoming novels include A Child Alone with Strangers, (Talos Press, August 2022) and Gothic (Cemetery Dance, February 2023). His stories have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Best Horror of the Year, Nightmare Magazine, Black Static, Dark Discoveries, Cemetery Dance, and others. You can follow Philip via social media, or visit his website at pfracassi.com.
Photo by Stephanie Simard
Boys in the Valley will hit shelves in Summer 2023!