Christopher Farris’ first published novel, “The Fountain,” tells a lore-filled horror story that is nothing short of disturbing, featuring characters that use exceptional healing and charming abilities to fight against unimaginable evils.
Farris is currently pursuing his masters in English at the UofA. He has also published several short stories on a variety of platforms, according to the biography included in his novel.
Deep in an Ozarks holler, a mysterious force called the Fountain has the potential to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting mountain community. Anyone under its power descends into madness and is inclined to commit horrific crimes. The Fountain is held at bay only by an invisible Wall, fortified through sacrificial rituals and magic performed by its protector, Abe. However, the Wall is quickly deteriorating, leaving Abe afraid that keeping the Fountain’s power contained will require the ultimate sacrifice.
Abe’s granddaughter, Jill, longs to understand the history of the Fountain and uses her healing and charming abilities, known as witchmastering, to help her grandfather. Her efforts seem fruitless until Abe hires Jack, a former Marine and recovering alcoholic who may hold the power needed all along. The three work desperately to unlock the ancient secrets of the valley before the evil forces break through the Wall — but what they discover turns out to be more horrific than they ever imagined.
“The Fountain” blurs the line between good and evil, contrasting those driven by pure malice with others driven to commit evil acts despite their good intentions. I found myself utterly shocked by some of the gruesome and sadistic crimes depicted in this story, which is certainly characteristic of the horror genre.
Through both the plot and character names, Farris’ novel draws comparisons to the Fountain of Youth and the biblical story of Abraham. The characters of Jack and Jill immediately reminded me of the famous nursery rhyme. I was thoroughly impressed by how intricately these allusions are woven into the novel, and I was left wondering what other ancient story references I might have missed.
The novel’s progression into pure chaos as the Wall weakens left me barreling towards the end, which came a little quicker than I was expecting. Although the author clearly sets up the remaining resolving action, I wished I could have seen these events actually play out. In particular, I longed for a couple more chapters from the main characters’ perspectives as they processed the final traumatic events.
I appreciated that the chapters alternated frequently between different characters’ points of view, as I was able to better understand each character’s motive. Knowing the characters’ wicked thoughts long before they put them into action only added to my growing sense of anticipation throughout the novel.
It is obvious Farris put careful thought into each character, chapter and plot device present in this novel. Each seemingly small element plays a larger part in the overarching storyline, forcing the reader to take an active role in the story if they want to keep up. “The Fountain” is a quick read perfect for anyone looking for an intricately crafted, engaging and suspenseful novel.