Gothic – Philip Fracassi

Spoilers Ahead (in purple)

Tyson Parks, once upon a bestselling author, is struggling both creatively and financially. He’s already spent the advance he received for the book he was supposed to be writing and his agent isn’t exactly thrilled that the work in progress Tyson presents to him doesn’t even remotely resemble the pitch. Sent away with an impossible deadline and strict instructions to write the book he was supposed to be writing, Tyson feels defeated.

Sarah, Tyson’s partner, goes all out for his birthday, buying him a one of a kind antique desk. They both hope this will give Tyson the boost he needs to get back in the game.

Now, instead of completing the historical horror novel he wanted to write, Tyson finds himself embroiled in a real life historical horror, one that’s almost three hundred years in the making.

I found this book easy to get into and I was keen to see how the history of Tyson’s desk impacted on his present. Almost immediately I started comparing Tyson to Jack Torrance. It was hard not to. The author even references Jack, and adds a few other King references in for good measure.

I was completely on board until the on page rape scene. I love so many types of horror: body horror, slashers, supernatural horror, gore, psychological horror, monster horror… This rape scene, though? It seemed to me that it was only there as a plot device, showing the reader that the desk is influencing Tyson to act in a way that he never would without it. There are so many ways you can show me that someone is morphing into a bad guy without using rape to do it. Sexual assault has its place in fiction but not when there’s no sensitivity given to the material.

But here’s the reality: when you are joined with someone for over a decade of life, and when that decade has been a good decade – a litany of loving moments, shared compassion and consistent, unflagging support – you build a level of trust, a balustrade of understanding, of love.

Of forgiveness.

This just made me mad. Oh, and then there’s this.

It was up to Sarah to decide now. Was their story over, or had the future already been written? Sarah let out a held breath, her shoulders slump and she leans forward, her forehead to his chest.

She allows him to give himself back to her, and she to him.

Tyson, Sarah might forgive you for brutally raping her but I don’t.

If it wasn’t for this scene, I probably would have continued to enjoy this read. It coloured everything I read after it, though, and I never made it back to my initial enjoyment.

Because I really liked the way this novel started, I’d be interested in trying another book by this author. I’d definitely check out the reviews first to make sure I chose one that’s right for me.

Content warnings include domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Cemetery Dance Publications for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

On his 59th birthday, Tyson Parks – a famous, but struggling, horror writer – receives an antique desk from his partner, Sarah, in the hopes it will rekindle his creative juices. Perhaps inspire him to write another best-selling novel and prove his best years aren’t behind him.

A continent away, a mysterious woman makes inquiries with her sources around the world, seeking the whereabouts of a certain artifact her family has been hunting for centuries. With the help of a New York City private detective, she finally finds what she’s been looking for.

It’s in the home of Tyson Parks.

Meanwhile, as Tyson begins to use his new desk, he begins acting… strange. Violent. His writing more disturbing than anything he’s done before. But publishers are paying top dollar, convinced his new work will be a hit, and Tyson will do whatever it takes to protect his newfound success.

Even if it means the destruction of the ones he loves.

Even if it means his own sanity.

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