Mother is a novelette written by Philip Fracassi and published by Dunhams Manor Press. It's a high quality chapbook which has been beautifully produced. The author is new to me but the reason for that is provided in a note at the end of the book which states that this is his first foray into horror. Thankfully, given how much I enjoyed Mother, it also promises that it won't be his last.
It's the story of a marriage in crisis, college sweethearts Julie and Howard marry straight after graduation but their relationship begins to falter soon after. The narrative is told in first person by Howard - and in a most effective way, as his thoughts and opinions are all too apparent with the author skilfully presenting a character damned by his own words. Howard is not a nice man and it's clear that the breakdown of the marriage is as much down to his own personality as anything else. He's a man seemingly incapable of empathy or sympathy with anyone - his concerns are only for himself.
As an attempt to salvage the marriage, (and clearly never having watched Lars Von Trier's Antichrist), the couple buy a house in a remote location surrounded by woods. The attic room is converted to a studio where Julie can work on her art. When Howard discovers his wife in her studio surrounded by black candles and mysterious symbols drawn onto the floor, things begin to get strange. Credit is due to the author here for the way in which he handles the "reveal" as to what the symbols mean - writing a lovely passage with a great closing line.
The incident heralds a change in Julie however, romance - it seems - blossoms once more, resulting in pregnancy and the arrival of a son - named Howard after his father.
Then things get really strange...
No spoilers here, suffice to say that the horror really ramps up in the closing scenes of the story as it's revealed that little Howard may not be the only offspring to which Julie is mother...
I really enjoyed Mother - beautifully constructed, it's a perfect combination of literary writing and full-on horror. I hope that the author makes good on his promise that this won't be his last foray into the genre.
You can - and should - buy Mother here.