cover image Beneath a Pale Sky

Beneath a Pale Sky

Philip Fracassi. Lethe, $17 trade paper (258p) ISBN 978-1-59021-719-1

Though uneven, this collection of eight horror shorts from Fracassi (Behold the Void) highlights the author’s skill at capturing disasters, gore, and cosmic horror. The two original stories that open the volume, “Harvest” and “The Wheel,” get things off to a slow start as both take their time building to any action. Once they do, however, both evoke classic disaster movies through their deliberate pacing and melodrama—albeit with significantly more grisly detail. Women in particular don’t fare well in any of these stories; in the painful “Symphony,” for example, a sixth-grade girl must turn to infernal powers to escape her father’s abuse. The novella “Fragile Dreams” is the standout by far, following a young husband and father who is waiting for an important job interview when a devastating earthquake hits and the building he’s in collapses. The immediate, visceral terror of the collapse spirals out into psychedelic cosmic horror, even as the story remains movingly grounded in character. Much of this collection will primarily appeal to Fracassi’s fans, but “Fragile Dreams” will engross horror fans more broadly—and is alone worth the price of admission. [em](June) [/em]