cover image Boys in the Valley

Boys in the Valley

Philip Fracassi. Earthling, $50 (318p) ISBN 978-1-73692-840-0

Fracassi (Beneath a Pale Sky) spins a gothic, gory Lord of the Flies tale that captures both the hope of youth and the rapture of religion. It’s 1905 and 16-year-old Peter Barlow is the de-facto older brother to his fellow residents at St. Vincent’s Orphanage for Boys following the murder-suicide of his parents years prior. Haunted by his past but eager for a better future, Peter’s torn between following the path of his mentor, Father Andrew Francis, into priesthood, or following his heart in the form of local farm girl Grace Hill. But when an injured, raving man is brought to the priests of St. Vincent’s, his poison seeps into the hearts of many of the boys, and Peter and the remaining orphans must fight for their survival before they too succumb to the allure of his demonic rot. 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. Occasionally the tone careens from creeping, literary gothic tale to bloody slasher film, but these odd shifts don’t diminish the overall quality of the haunting, visceral story. Horror readers will be hooked. Agent: Elizabeth Copps, Copps Literary. (Oct.)