Ok, I know Christmas is over, but good horror is a gift that keeps on giving year round! And if you can get a nice dose of scares that are intermingled with a recent holiday, then so much the better. Such is the case with author Matt Manochio’s latest release, THE DARK SERVANT. Set against the backdrop of an approaching Christmas season in a small town, this book presents the horrifying truth behind the Santa Claus myth and what happens to those who don’t believe.
If you are not familiar with THE DARK SERVANT, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Samhain Publishing:
Santa’s not the only one coming to town…
It 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 the snow.
Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes on 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, endangering his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why supposedly innocent high school students have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.
I finished this book prior to the recent Christmas holiday, however I did not have the opportunity to post the review until now. Yet, the weather doesn’t have to be cold to enjoy this chilling tale of horror. Manochio does a masterful job of weaving together real life and myth to create the ultimate Yule Tide terror.
THE DARK SERVANT is written very well and flows at a smooth pace. Manochio writes in a fluid matter that conveys a lot of information but moves the story swiftly along. This allows the reader a complete immersion into the story, which in turn enhances the frights as they occur.
The characters are well fleshed-out and believable. They are damaged individuals who are relatable and likable (for the most part, that is…there are a few “bad seeds” that I enjoyed disliking). The realism of the characters is another reason this book is so enjoyable.
I particularly like the small-town setting in which THE DARK SERVANT takes place. I come from (and currently live in) a small town, therefore this book hits home for me. As a result, I felt a connection to the characters that some readers may not. This bond brought me closer to the story, and I felt more deeply vested in what happens in the story.
THE DARK SERVANT is an excellent read, and a feather in the cap of an up-and-coming horror author. I highly recommend giving this one a look, particularly if you are not ready for Christmas to be over for this year. Manochio is an author to watch out for, and he shines with this debut. It is available now in a variety of formats, so make a note.