“The Dark Servant is everything a thriller should be—eerie, original and utterly engrossing!”
— Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author
“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted, Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant has taken an esoteric fairy tale from before Christ and sets it in the modern world of media-saturated teenagers—creating a clockwork mechanism of terror that blends Freddy Krueger with the Brothers Grimm! Highly recommended!”
— Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor
“A fast-paced thrill-ride into an obscure but frightful Christmas legend. Could there be a dark side to Santa? And if so, what would he do to those kids who were naughty? Matt Manochio provides the nail-biting answer with The Dark Servant.”
— John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes
“Just in time for the season of Good Will Toward Men, Matt Manochio’s debut delivers a fresh dose of Holiday Horror, breathing literary life into an overlooked figure of legend ready to step out of Santa’s shadow. Prepared to be thrilled in a new, old-fashioned way.”
— Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical and The Angel of the Abyss
The Dark Servant
Santa’s not the only one coming to town …
It’s older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.
Matt Manochio is one of the new kids on the block. Not Joey, Jordon, Jonathan, Danny, or even Donnie…no, he’s the AC/DC lovin’ new guy at Samhain Horror. Not familiar? Well, you should rectify that ASAP. After crafting two unpublished crime novels (one of which he sold to the sinking Dorchester ship, but never saw released), Matt heard the story of Krampus.
Let Wikipedia help us there:
Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during the Christmas season who had misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children in his sack and carry them away to his lair.
What does Krampus do with these naughty children after he takes them to his lair? The Dark Servant, Matt’s debut for one of the most trusted names in horror, delivers the ugly details.
Matt does an awesome job of getting the reader’s attention right off the bat. Krampus makes his presence felt early and often. There’s a storm coming into New Jersey, kids are on their way to school. During the course of the novel, the police chief and his two boys, along with a handful of other students, are introduced and pulled in, one after the other, to Krampus’s deliverance of retribution and penance. Who will repent? And will it be too late?
While The Dark Servant contains its fair share of blood and horror, it also carries an important and pertinent message. The theme flowing below the suspenseful surface of the novel is Matt’s take on bullying. Bullying is something tons of kids (and some adults) go through on a daily basis. It’s a big problem in our society, especially in the time of cyber-bullies. According to a report from ABC News, 30% of students are either bullies, or victims of bullies. Tens of thousands of kids stay home from school each day to avoid their bullies. Matt uses a number of examples throughout the story to highlight some of the nastier sides of the human condition evident in our children (things that bring Krampus to town). Matt handles the subject matter with great care, and to great effect.
The dialogue is strong, the characters are well-crafted and believable, which helps make you have to know what’s going on and what each of these kids has done to deserve the punishment they receive. There’s even an awesome snowmobile chase (or getaway…but do they get away?), and the ending is played out wonderfully.
Matt Manochio’s debut novel is well-worth your time and money. And there’s really nothing better to read at Christmas than a good Krampus story.
A fantastic 4 out of 5 stars. Go grab your copy today!
For more on Matt Manochio, check out his website: http://www.mattmanochio.com