Fragile Dreams by Philip Fracassi: A Gehenna Post Review

Greetings from the Ether,

As part of our new review series, we will be reviewing three works by critically-acclaimed author Philip Fracassi. The first is the review of Fragile Dreams, which you are reading, and will be followed by Sacculina, and last but certainly not least, his new collection Behold the Void. The review series will be finalized with an interview with Philip Fracassi concerning his new collection and what the future holds for the dark fiction writer.

Alas, let the review begin!

Cover for Fragile Dreams by Philip Fracassi

Fragile Dreams encompasses the spiritual and psychological journey of a man named Matthew, who becomes trapped beneath rubble in the brutal aftermath of an earthquake. The story revolves around his journey in the darkness, clinging on to life and reliving several aspects of his past while also experiencing vivid and terrifying hallucinations in the process.

In the less-than-one-hundred pages of this chronicle, readers are stricken with lucid and eloquently-written sensations of claustrophobia and isolation. Where most authors would be challenged in writing a storyline that, at its epicenter, is small in scale and concise, Fracassi finds a way to transform the blackness and lack of discernible environment with haunting execution. Matthew’s past and present share equal attention, grasping the readers and allowing them to care for the protagonist as more than just a man buried beneath rubble, but as a father, a husband, and a man with real-life trauma and authentically-crafted behavior.

Readers will find themselves gripping the spine of this book, white-knuckled and turning page after page with increasing speed, not even realizing they have reached the climax once that final page presents itself. With parallels to the visceral eyewitness accounts from survivors of 9/11, the fierce and unforgiving qualities of mortality are put on display. The eventual psychosis of Matthew is terrifying and filled with morbidity, his nightmares exhuming dread and mournful aspects of the main character’s life.

Though an intentionally closed-in and isolated work of fiction, the relationships displayed, most notably with his best friend Robbie and the other survivor Dee, are spotlighted with realistic interactions and often heartwarming moments. Fracassi crafts an often poetic verse, combining realism with disturbing detail and frighteningly cosmic moments of horror.

The only minute flaw that this novella holds, is in pace and structure, though these are easily overlooked and hardly noticeable amidst the graphic storytelling and engaging plot. These small flaws could also be attributed to length constraints, but for most readers they will be too lost in the beautiful language that Fracassi illustrates to notice.

In Fragile Dreams, readers are offered the fragility of the human psyche and the vulnerability of the human body; both are explored and investigated with stunning prose and visceral description, offering a tale that is as endearing as it is evocative.

We recommend this novella to lovers of horror, especially fans of the more psychological aspects of the genre. If this piece is any foreshadowing on the rest of Philip Fracassi’s works, we are delighted to traverse further into his meticulous and creative mind.

Photo of Fragile Dreams author Philip Fracassi

Philip Fracassi, an author and screenwriter, lives in Los Angeles.

He has worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years and was the founder of Equator Books, a publishing house and rare, out-of-print bookstore in Venice, CA.

Philip currently works full-time in the film industry and on his writing. His screenplay credits include “Girl Missing,” distributed by Mar Vista Entertainment (2015) for Lifetime Television and “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups,” distributed by Disney Home Entertainment (2012). Films in development include “Escape the Night,” “The Boys in the Valley,” “Gothic,” and “Vintage.”

His horror novelettes, “Altar,” and “Mother,” are currently available from Dunhams Manor Press. His literary novel, “The Egotist” is available online.

His newest novella, “Fragile Dreams,” is now available from JournalStone Publications.

You can follow Philip on Facebook and on Twitter (@philipfracassi), or at his official website at

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