Review: ALTAR

ALTAR by Philip Fracassi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What begins as a family trip to the local pool on a warm day quickly turns dark on levels both personal and cosmic, and it’s the juxtaposition of these two elements that Fracassi is so damn good at. The social ecosystem of the public pool and the mundane idiosyncrasies of each characters’ headspace make a fantastic set-piece for the action and horror that unfolds with Fracassi’s elegant rhythm. He manages to fit so much into the space of such a short work, but it never feels overfed. Every scene is precisely measured and delivers the right amount of impact-versus-anticipation before switching to a different character or scenario. The tension builds to breathless, almost painful heights as the story reaches its bleak and fragile peak. This is an absolute sucker-punch of a novella that easily ranks among this year’s best pieces of fiction.

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