Sault Native Publishes Gothic Horror Novel, The Symbol


The Symbol is a dramatic blend of Gothic horror, dark humor, and deep psychology that keeps readers guessing until the story’s shocking conclusion

Sault native and former psychologist Peter Fratesi is adding published author to his repertoire, with the recent release of his Gothic horror novel, The Symbol.

“Sometimes, extraordinary ideas begin in the most ordinary moments.” This is how Fratesi, now an Alberta resident, describes his inspiration for writing, The Symbol, just released by Double Dragon Publishing.

Peter was reading a magazine in a physician’s waiting room, when he discovered a fascinating article on a volcano which exploded in 1815 on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. The ensuing bad weather reached Europe in 1816, trapping a band of writers in their vacation villa on Lake Geneva. During their confinement, Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein, and the famous Romantic poet Lord George Byron wrote a brief horror story there, as well. This story inspired Lord Byron’s personal physician, Dr. John Polidori, to write the first Gothic vampire book, The Vampyre (the forerunner of Bram Stoker’s Dracula). Tragedy eventually stalked all of these literary notables, in one way or another.

The seeds of a dark horror story, fictionalizing these historic figures, began to form in Peter’s imagination. He spent the next three ink-stained years writing it.

The emergence of the story surprised even its author. Until then, he hadn’t fully discovered his creative imagination for fiction writing (a rather dark one, at that!). Interestingly, the story explores the human mind through fiction, and Peter manages to transport his reader deeply into a fantasy world.

The story revolves around Dr. John Polidori, who experiences terrible nightmares while researching his vampire book in Serbia. The dreams worsen when he returns to London to finish his book in the autumn of 1816.

A brutal, perplexing murder happens in East London, and Scotland Yard encounters a strange symbol at the murder scene. Is this hideous murder connected with Polidori’s interest in vampirism? Do Londoners need to brace for a serial murderer? The story’s dramatic blend of Gothic horror, dark humour and deep psychology sweeps you along to the shocking conclusion. There, you discover the true meaning of The Symbol.

Editor Allister Thompson reviews The Symbol as follows: “Peter Fratesi’s debut novel is an impressive contribution to the genre of Gothic fiction. He expertly mixes a classic tale of horror with period settings and well-developed characters. His use of real figures like Lord Byron and Percy and Mary Shelley is particularly interesting and often amusing. However, the oppressive expectancy of horrors to come is what makes this novel a true turner.”

Peter was born in the Sault and graduated from Sault Collegiate. He spent several summers working as a student at the former Algoma Steel Plant. Peter also marched in many Community Night parades with the old Sault Concert Band.

He took his BA degree in psychology from Laurentian University, Sudbury, and did his graduate work in psychology at Goddard College, in Vermont. Peter then worked for several decades as a psychologist and psychotherapist in Alberta, in mental heath and rehabilitation agencies, private practice, and as a college instructor in psychology. He retired in 2014. He is currently busy hatching dark, fictional plots in Edmonton, where he lives with his wife, son, and Golden Retriever, Harry.

The Symbol is available in paperback and as an eBook through major online book sites, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. For more information on where to purchase the book, or receive updates on Peter’s writing and other creative endeavours, visit:


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