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Boys in the Valley de Philip Fracassi
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Boys in the Valley (edição: 2023)

de Philip Fracassi (Autor)

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1488187,237 (4.05)7
"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"--… (mais)
Membro:paupersgrave
Título:Boys in the Valley
Autores:Philip Fracassi (Autor)
Informação:Tor Nightfire (2023), 352 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

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Boys in the Valley de Philip Fracassi

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Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Horror is very personal, but this may be one of the best horror books I've read in a long time. Maybe ever.

It's hard for me to give any horror 5 stars, because it's horror after all. But this one really deserves 4+. Let's call it...4.25.

The story takes place in the early 1900s in a Catholic boys' orphanage isolated in a rural area over a fairly short period of time. Trouble ensues after a man shot during the commission of a crime is brought to the orphanage by the sheriff and his men for prayer and healing.

Here's how to decide if this is for you:

- it deals with demonic possession
- Catholic / spiritual implications / priests who are morally complicated and/or compromised
- children are not only involved and die, but that's essential for and central to the plot

I like horror that is complex and layered and this is that. That is not always easy to find. I also strongly prefer horror that ends with a spark of hope (or humanity) vs. chaos and nihilism. For me, this was definitely the former, but that might depend on your stance and beliefs ingoing.

If you've read enough to think this is - or could be - for you, consider this a high recommendation. ( )
  angiestahl | Jun 14, 2024 |
Fast, scary horror novel set at an orphanage in 1905. Short chapters, vivid setting, grotesque imagery. Solid recommendation if ya like easy reading horror. Docked a point because I don't love demonic possession stories or horror about kids, but this is definitely worth a look. ( )
  Amateria66 | May 24, 2024 |
Philip Fracassi was a new-to-me author in the horror genre, but after reading his Boys in the Valley I intend to keep him on my radar, because I found this story’s blend of supernatural horror and introspection into the human soul quite engaging.

The novel starts with a tragedy, a terrifying murder/suicide which turns young Peter into an orphan: in the next chapter we meet him a few years later, one of the children relegated to St. Vincent’s orphanage, a bleak institution set in a remote corner of Pennsylvania, in the early years of the 20th Century. If orphanages are not “happy places” by definition, life in St. Vincent is decidedly grim: the boys are ruled by the harsh hand of Father Poole, an individual more inclined toward dogma than compassion, and their hard labor in the fields surrounding the institution is rewarded with little food and even less creature comforts. Those who don’t follow the rules to the letter are often punished with a stay in the dreaded “hole”, a penance devised by Brother Johnson, a former prison inmate sent into Father Poole’s care to amend his many sins. For Peter, the only light in such darkness comes from the friendship with some of his fellow orphans and the one with Father Andrew, who sees in the young man the potential for a future priest and is schooling the youngster toward that goal, although Peter is torn between dedicating his life to God and the strong affection he feels for Grace, the daughter of a nearby farmer.

The monotonous dreariness of life in St. Vincent is broken one night when the local sheriff and his deputies knock on the orphanage’s door asking for help: they carry a grievously wounded man who also shows signs of delirious madness and soon Father Poole understands that something evil is afoot and decides to perform an exorcism. The inevitable death of the wounded man is not the end of the story however, since the following day sees an ominous change slowly spreading among the children: furtive, defiant glances lead to whispered conversation among small groups of the youngsters, and soon enough terror and death spread through St. Vincent like wildfire….

The increasing sense of foreboding that drives this story is handled with admirable skill and timing, since the author does not feel any need to prolong unnecessarily the sense of dread that becomes palpable with each turn of the page: what makes the horror element very effective is the sense that we are dealing with something resembling an infection, a disease that attaches itself to the more predisposed subjects and takes root with little or no opposition. It’s not difficult to see how the demon-inspired violence that erupts within the walls of St. Vincent is certainly sparked by the possession, but it must be also stressed that it finds a welcoming, fertile soil in the simmering resentment of the children, whose situation in the orphanage is just one step removed from outright abuse - and in some cases goes even beyond that. The physical isolation of the orphanage, set in a desolate valley, and the violent snowstorm that further segregates the small community from the rest of the world, enhance the claustrophobic sense of terror that pervades the story and lets the reader know that there might not be any help for the unaffected children and their wardens, turning the novel into a breath-stopping experience that makes it next to impossible to put down the book.

Despite the darkness of the tale, I enjoyed the author’s depiction of his characters, the way he can convey their personalities and their backstory with a few, well-placed brush strokes: of course Peter is front and center, and his very human struggle between the calling of the priesthood and the mundane attraction for Grace is pictured with great sensibility. Given the tragedy that informs his past, and his present living conditions, he had to grow up quickly, but still he is able to maintain a form of childish innocence that quickly endeared him to me, particularly where the author describes his unquenchable thirst for the stories narrated in the books Grace lends him - a bookworm always understands another, even a fictional one…

Peter’s natural complement is his friend David: a bit more cynical than Peter, still he’s capable of great acts of generosity and courage that will become more evident as the situation in the orphanage turns tragic. Being among the oldest, while still being young teens, they both feel responsible for the younger children and it’s easy to see how their basic decency makes it easy for the little ones to trust them both and accept their lead. The microcosm of St. Vincent almost becomes a test site for human behavior under stress and terror, and the author conveys the disparate emotions and reactions with believable accuracy.

As far as negative characters go, where Father Poole is an almost two-dimensional figure, his coldness and arrogance immediately placing him among the “bad guys”, I quite enjoyed the more nuanced depiction of Brother Johnson: even though we are made aware of his violent past and of the contemptuous harshness with which he deals with the children, there are several instances in which his humanity tries to assert itself over the darkness of his soul, even more so once the demonic “infection” has taken him over, conferring to his character an intriguing depth that was as fascinating as it was unexpected given its premises.

Boys in the Valley is a quick, compelling read that surprised me with its intensity and the way it drew me into the narrative, one whose outcome is uncertain until the very end, where the author surprised me with what seemed to me a quite sudden close and a very unexpected narrative choice that saddened me but did not diminish my appreciation for this story. ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Feb 8, 2024 |
My favorite horror book is The Exorcist. I’ve read My Best Friends Exorcism, Come Closer, Goddess of Filth, The Omen (I think this counts for the sub genera), basically a few in the posession category. This novel was so different with its approach to posession and how the evil powers were played out. The other basic elements were still there: play on the innocent, major inner battles, doubt, sins and self hate and of course the religious just. I really enjoyed the different point of views and the inner monologues. This book was written well, without the recent trend of nautious regurgitateion of information. The chosen characters has entertaining builds and the pacing was very tasteful, as was the chosen violence (not grossly overdone and potent enough to keep that unsettling vibe going strong). This story spoke to me and I enjoyed it thoroughly and happy to have found another favorite,
I guess this really is my sub genera ( )
  cmpeters | Feb 2, 2024 |
Originally posted on Just Geeking by.

Content warnings:
As to be expected with a horror novel, this book includes a lot of death, violence, blood and gore. Death scenes include the murder of a mother by a father who then takes his own life and this is witnessed by their young son, and vicious murders committed by children of adults and other children. There is also a detailed discussion of the ritual sacrifice of a toddler (off page) and murder of a baby (off page).

There are scenes depicting and discussing the physical and emotional abuse of boys by their caretakers. The boys are neglected, and barely fed. If they do not pass inspection for mealtimes or are late they are starved, and other boys are punished if they try to give food to them. Some boys have permanent scars and disfigurements from punishments received when they were younger. There is also a flashback scene to an adult’s childhood abuse where his mother locked him inside a closet as punishment.

The most extreme punishment inspired by a form of torture a former prisoner once experienced is an underground cell outside where the boys are left for a day or more no matter how extreme the weather is at the time. In the book, this happens during the middle of a winter storm.

This book also includes scenes of exorcism, torture, crucifixion, self-cannibalism, animal death, burning and disfigurement.


Set in 1905, Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi tells the story of a group of boys at an orphanage in Delaware County, Pennsylvania in 1905. Under the care of a group of priests, the boys at St. Vincent’s Orphanage live a life of farm work and religious teaching. Underneath this seemingly peaceful pastoral setting, there is something much darker at play. The boys are physically and emotionally abused by their caretakers, suffering painful punishments and neglect when they fail to obey.

It’s more trauma on top of what many of the boys have already experienced, with many of them living in or facing dire circumstances before being brought to the orphanage. That’s especially true for Peter, who watched his father kill his mother before committing suicide in front of him. Peter barely escaped their burning house alive, and now as he nears adulthood, he is torn between life as a priest and life with the pretty girl at a nearby farm.

Peter’s plans for the future are irrevocably changed when a group of men brings a mysterious stranger to the orphanage one night. The men are the local sheriff and his deputies, and their prisoner who has committed heinous crimes is acting strange enough that the sheriff is seeking the aid of a priest.

Despite every attempt to save him, the prisoner dies. Upon death something is released, something old and evil, and the boys of St Vincent’s are completely unprepared for it. It takes root in some of them and lines are drawn in the sand very quickly as the boys split into groups; them and us.

As things start to turn violent, Peter and the next eldest boy, David, must look after the other boys when a horrific attack on the adults leaves them as the only defence from evil like nothing they’ve seen before.

Can a group of young boys survive an ancient evil that even the priests couldn’t stop?

Boys in the Valley is a brilliant horror book that pushes all the right buttons and will hold your attention throughout. I worried at the start of the book when Fracassi introduced the setting and characters that this was going to be a very slow-paced book. Thankfully, it was just him setting the scene with a thoroughness that would add to the tension later on. I stuck with the book, and I am so glad that I did because it is one of the best horror stories I have read.

For me, a horror story needs to have a great story along with the right amount of blood, gore and violence. I’m reading a book, not watching a horror movie or playing a hack-and-slash video game; there needs to be something more than just blood and gore. I also need to feel the horror, not to the point where it freaks me out, and I’ll have nightmares. I just want to feel the creepiness, the darkness that the author is trying to sell me. Theological horror has always been a favourite of mine, and this ticked all the boxes for me.

Not only that, but I knew Boys in the Valley was a winner when I was reading a scene where one of the characters turns to look at the evil boys, realising that they aren’t just acting weird and that something is very wrong, that his life might be in danger – and caught myself holding my breath in sync with the character in anticipation of their actions.

Boys in the Valley is a dark horror novel that capitalises on the idea of the innocence of children and juxtaposes it with extreme violence. The two are not supposed to mix, and the wrongness of the situation just adds to the horror as events unfold. Please be aware that while this works towards the atmosphere of the book, there are scenes that are quite disturbing, and it’s worth checking the content warnings to be on the safe side before picking this one up.

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( )
  justgeekingby | Jan 17, 2024 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Fracassi’s latest gives a fresh take on demonic possession, and he provides enough characterization to give the boys depth so that readers will be invested in their fates. Peter’s struggles with his path in adulthood will resonate even if one has not been faced with his exact choice. This is a must-read for horror fans.
adicionado por Lemeritus | editarBooklist, Carrie Rasak (May 31, 2023)
 
Fracassi (Beneath a Pale Sky) spins a gothic, gory Lord of the Flies tale that captures both the hope of youth and the rapture of religion.... The horror here is as much a warning on the dangers of human corruption as a testament to hope in the face of nigh-insurmountable darkness. Occasionally the tone careens from creeping, literary gothic tale to bloody slasher film, but these odd shifts don’t diminish the overall quality of the haunting, visceral story. Horror readers will be hooked.
adicionado por Lemeritus | editarPublisher's Weekly (Jul 28, 2021)
 
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"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"--

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