The Dark Servant by Matt Manochio

The Dark Servant by Matt Manochio
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Horror, Holiday, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (259 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

“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.

He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake…

The holiday season has set in and so have several disappearances in Billy Schweitzer’s small town.
Billy is a young teen dealing with several growing up issues and battling depression. Reeling from the rejection of his crush, he is forced to go to class. All around him events begin to unfold as danger stalks the snow covered streets.

Billy is given an assignment for German class and with his friends uncovers an interesting being called Krampus whose tracks resemble hooves. They also correspond to tracks around some of the missing kids, including Billy’s own brother. It’s up to Billy and his love interest Maria to figure out what is really going on. Her brother is missing and time may be running out for them all. A major winter storm is approaching and the more facts Billy learns about who this monster is and what he wants from the residents of their small town, the more urgent and terrifying his task becomes.

This book hooked me from the outset. Stories of teen angst and social anxiety never fail to pull me in, but don’t be fooled–this is not a young adult novel. Billy is reeling from squashed dreams and the cold reality that things don’t always go as planned. When his brother is taken and other kids turn up missing, he begins to use the smarts given to him from his father, a very rigid but competent police chief, to piece the facts together no matter how crazy they sound.

Krampus, the demon who exemplifies the darker side of the Santa tradition has come to claim the naughty children and Billy might just be the one he is looking for after all. It will take all of his skill and cunning to beat a foe centuries old with a taste for the perverse and a talent for pain.

The facts about the Krampus legend were fascinating and the author explains how Krampus was used to keep children from misbehaving in historic times. How then, does one stop a Christmas demon? You’ll have to read this adventure to find out. The characters were good, but on occasion the dialog became a bit dry and unrealistic. The story itself was a page turner that had me opening my e-reader whenever I had the chance.


  1. The Dark Secret was amazing! At first I thought ‘formula’—then again isn’t most everything? But when i got into it, or should I say…drawn into it, I was fascinated by the way the author wove this centuries old legendary Christmas demon. Krampus, into a 21st century, media feeding frenzy, psycho killer. Not an easy thing to do without exposing yourself to ridicule, but, and I must admit I’ve read many; this is as good a horror fantasy as any I’ve enjoyed previously. I envisioned the film version almost in sync with my reading of the book. The author pretty much can pluck his treatment from the text. Great job! Loved it!

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