Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

An ancient evil is unleashed in rural Pennsylvania during the late 19th century/early 20th century in author Philip Fracassi’s “Boys in the Valley”.


The Synopsis

The Exorcist meets Lord of the Flies, by way of Midnight Mass, in Boys in the Valley, a brilliant coming-of-age tale from award-winning author Philip Fracassi.

St. Vincent’s Orphanage for Boys.

Turn of the century, in a remote valley in Pennsylvania.

Here, under the watchful eyes of several priests, thirty boys work, learn, and worship. Peter Barlow, orphaned as a child by a gruesome murder, has made a new life here. As he approaches adulthood, he has friends, a future…a family.

Then, late one stormy night, a group of men arrive at their door, one of whom is badly wounded, occult symbols carved into his flesh. His death releases an ancient evil that spreads like sickness, infecting St. Vincent’s and the children within. Soon, boys begin acting differently, forming groups. Taking sides.

Others turn up dead.

Now Peter and those dear to him must choose sides of their own, each of them knowing their lives — and perhaps their eternal souls — are at risk.

ABN Banner

The Review

This was a truly compelling read. The author does an incredible job of immediately setting up a haunting atmosphere. The balance of a historical setting meeting an almost gothic horror atmosphere really set the tone early on and allowed for the blend of religious undertones and rich mythos to take hold in the reader’s minds. The action and world-building were top-tier, giving a very cinematic approach to the narrative as the story progressed.

To me, the heart of the story rested in the rich character development and the unique blend of genres. Seeing the balance between historical fiction, coming-of-age storytelling, and chilling horror vibes helped sell this story as the haunting gothic read it proved to be. Yet it was the development of this cast of characters, much like an iconic Stephen King novel like It or Salem’s Lot, where each character had a unique perspective on the developing story and added an emotional depth as the story began to intersect and merge together in the climactic final moments, that the narrative really began to shine through.

Get FREE SHIPPING on all custom printed books at BookBaby.

The Verdict

Memorable, thoughtful, and engaging, author Philip Fracassi’s “Boys in the Valley” is a must-read horror novel of 2023. The unique contrast between faith and identity, and the gripping theme of sacrifice, made this story come to life on the page, and the haunting final moments of this beautifully written novel will both captivate and bring readers to tears as the story plays out its bloody hand. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy today or grab a copy on July 11th, 2023!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Philip Fracassi is the author of the story collections Beneath a Pale Sky (named “Best Collection of the Year” by Rue Morgue Magazine and a finalist for the Bram Stoker award) and Behold the Void (named “Best Collection of the Year” by This Is Horror). He is also the author of several novellas, including Sacculina, Shiloh, and Commodore.

His novels include Don’t Let Them Get You Down, A Child Alone with Strangers, Gothic, and Boys in the Valley.

Philip’s books have been translated into multiple languages and his stories have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Best Horror of the Year, Nightmare Magazine, Black Static, Southwest Review, and Interzone.

The New York Times calls his work “terrifically scary.”

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


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.