Review: Sacculina by Philip Fracassi

By Philip Fracassi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

...and just like that, Philip Fracassi has become an author to watch for me.

Sacculina is a ridiculously rich thematic horror novella, set in one of my favorite locales for horror dramatics - the ocean. Situated on a rented fishing boat, two brothers, their friend, one friend, and the boat's captain (Captain Ron, which threw me at first, frankly, because all I could imagine was Kurt Russell's goofy antics, and this book is decidedly non-comedic), and stranded in the middle of the sea, the group find their weekend getaway interrupted by some very strange, very bad developments.

Fracassi's story kept me utterly engrossed, and the character development was richly done for so slim a story. I could relate, perhaps a bit too easily and a bit too painfully, to Henry and Jim (father and son), who are still recovering, respectively, from the loss of their wife and mother. My mother died suddenly last year, and the grieving process this family is working their way through hit me pretty solidly in a way I wasn't quite prepared for. As far as the story is concerned, death is omnipresent, and this might be one of the best depictions of cancer, cancerous growths, and the solitude of death that I've seen in a horror story.

Thematically, this sucker is strong as all get-out. What really caught my attention early on, though, was Fracassi's ability to build a strong sense of creeping dread. He crafts a terrific atmosphere in short order, and you get a terrific tense of isolation right from the outset, even before this family finds their way off the dock and out of the marina. Once they find themselves out in the ocean, the claustrophobia is really well done, and the threats Sacculina promises are deeply baked in.

I'm always on the lookout for good aquatic horror, and Sacculina certainly fit the bill. It's short, punchy, and well-crafted. Highly recommended.

[Note: I received a copy of this title from the publisher.]

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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