Length: 121 Pages
Publisher: Samhain Horror
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the Twelfth Krampus Night Blog Tour
I was introduced to Matt’s work was through his highly entertaining debut novel The Dark Servant, which introduced many readers to the legend of Krampus, a cloven-footed beast that serves as the dark foil for Santa Claus and whose origins stretch back to back to pre-Christian traditions. What impressed me the most about Manochio’s depiction of Krampus was his ability to mix the traditional elements of the creature with a distinctive personality that was both frightening and darkly humorous. So when I heard Matt was going to revisit the legend of Krampus in his latest novella Twelfth Krampus Night, I knew I had to jump at the chance to give it a read!
Beate Klothilda’s life seems to be picture perfect despite her humble upbringing. She is set to marry her childhood sweetheart Heinrich Kluber and their future together seems bright as Heinrich has his sights on a lucrative job for the baron as a blacksmith. However, her happiness is shattered when they discover the mutilated body of her best friend Gisela along the side of the path they were traveling. Hardly given any time to mourn the loss of her friend, Beate and Heinrich are ushered to Vettelberg Castle by the baron’s sons to complete the preparations for a royal wedding started by Gisela.
Meanwhile in the shadows of the forest, the belly-slitting hag Frau Perchta and monstrous beast Krampus also have their sights set on Vettelberg Castle. Thought to be little more than boogeymen used by parents to scare their children into behaving, they are frighteningly real. They are tasked with punishing those who have committed horrible deeds and they are hellbent on breaching the castle walls to capture their prey by any means necessary. As these horrific creatures launch their deadly assault, Beate must use her wits and courage to survive the attack and unravel the dark secrets swirling within the castle.
While Twelfth Krampus Night marks the return of Manochio’s original take on Krampus, readers are also introduced to another dark holiday figure in Frau Perchta, the belly-slitting hag. For those who are unfamiliar with the legend of Frau Perchta, the short version is she is a lot like Krampus. She enters the homes of children and if they have been good and worked hard throughout the year, they are rewarded with a small coin. If the children are bad, well, “belly-slitting hag” paints a pretty vivid picture of what happens to them. I don’t want to spoil her character by giving too much away about her favorite form of punishment, but it is horrifyingly gruesome and makes her every bit as terrifying as Krampus. While I was somewhat familiar with the legend of Krampus even before reading any of Manochio’s books, Frau Perchta was entirely new to me. Even after you read Twelfth Krampus Night, I highly recommend checking out the folklore on Wikipedia as it is a pretty interesting read.
One of my favorite aspects of Twlefth Krampus Night was the interactions between Krampus and Frau Perchta. Originally when I read the synopsis, I went into this novel thinking that the kind-hearted Beate would encounter each of these characters separately or that Frau Perchta and Krampus would form some kind of horror dream team and work together to storm the castle walls to deal out their brand of bloody and vicious punishment. While these two they do work together to a degree, Manochio treats readers to something far more entertaining than a simple monster team-up. These two holiday nightmares lob insults at each other during their initial meeting and even when they do agree to work together, they try to sabotage each other at every turn. I couldn’t help but think of the first time I watched Freddy Vs. Jason while reading Twelfth Krampus Night in regards to the initial interactions between Krampus and Frau Perchta. Whether you loved or hated that movie, I think any horror fan can agree it was pretty awesome to watch those two invincible forces square off. I got that same sort of sheer excitement from watching Frau Perchta and Krampus duke it out in the earlier portions of the novella.
While Frau Perchta and Krampus may get most of the glory from readers – face it, who doesn’t love a good monster? – Manochio’s other characters that appear in Twelfth Krampus Night are brought to life just as effectively. There are some truly sinister people lurking within the walls of Vettelberg Castle that readers will love to hate and then there is the maiden Beate Klothilda, who was my favorite human character in the novella. She speaks her mind and isn’t afraid to defend herself with razor sharp wit, even in the presence of royalty where insubordination is often punished severely. Beate is subjected to all sorts of horrible things throughout the course of the novel, but she never loses her courage and is a total bad-ass throughout the entire story.
I felt Manochio’s decision have this story take place in medieval times was perfect. While I loved seeing Krampus appear in modern times in The Dark Servant, there is something magical about seeing him and Frau Perchta in their element. The characters of The Dark Servant are largely left in the dark about what is ripping kids from their homes, but in Twelfth Krampus Night the legends are still a large part of the characters every day lives. Sure, they are skeptical that these boogeyman stories told by their parents are real, but they are much more accepting of what they are up against and have some knowledge of both creatures.
While there are tons of adrenaline-inducing scenes and copious amounts of blood and guts that will be sure to delight horror fans, Manochio also weaves in elements of mystery that add another level of enjoyment for readers. Readers are left in the dark as to who Frau Perchta and Krampus are actually after up until the final few pages of Twelfth Krampus Night and the final reveal is pretty shocking.
Manochio weaves together a great cast of characters, dark humor and some truly terrifying creatures for a fast-paced horror read that is perfect for horror fans looking to get into the holiday spirit! I don’t know if Manochio is planning any more Krampus novels for the future, but I sure hope he is because they are always a blast to read. Besides the enjoyment factor, there is a line in Twelfth Krampus Night about Krampus’ origin that is just bursting with possibilities. If you’re reading this Matt, please give us a badass Krampus origin story!
Also, be sure to check out Matt’s recent interview on the incredible podcast Monster Men. Matt talks more about his work, Krampus and other horror-related stuff. I highly recommend checking out this episode and horror fiction fans will find tons of other great interviews on the Monster Men channel. Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post for a chance at an awesome prize that includes a print copy of Matt’s The Dark Servant and a $50 Amazon Gift Card! All you have to do is enter using the rafflecopter link and if you email Erin a link of your review you get 5 extra entries.
Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Twelfth Krampus Night! – #TwelfthKrampusNight #TKN #TheDarkServant #Krampus
Twelfth Krampus Night Synopsis
Dark servants clash!
Medieval maiden Beate, who’s grieving over the mysterious evisceration of her best friend, Gisela, must escape a Bavarian castle under siege by sadistic creatures.
Standing in her way—beyond towering walls and crossbow-toting guards—are Saint Nicholas’s demonic helper, Krampus, and Frau Perchta, a belly-slitting hag who prowls the countryside during First Night festivities to punish naughty teens.
Beate wants out. Krampus and Frau Perchta want in, determined to breach the castle to snag their prey. Beate has no idea why these monsters want her, but she must use her wits to save herself from horrors both human and inhuman—lest she wind up like Gisela.
Praise for Matt Manochio
“Twelfth Krampus Night is an enjoyable read and a strong horror story. Manochio is a very strong writer and his talent is evident in this novel. I easily slid into the world that Manochio creates and was fascinated by Frau Perchta and Krampus.” –Minneapolis Examiner.com
“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!” — Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author
“Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.” — Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling author
“Matt Manochio has taken a very rare fairytale and turned it into a real page-turner. Matt has constructed a very real and believable force in Krampus and has given it a real journalistic twist, and he has gained a fan in me!” — David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author
“In The Dark Servant, Matt Manochio has taken the tantalizing roots of Middle Europe’s folklore and crafted a completely genuine modern American horror story. … I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.” — Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author
“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
“If you want some pure escapism on a quiet afternoon and you don’t mind a little–okay, maybe a lot–of blood, SENTINELS is exactly what you’re looking for. Manochio is a talented author with a bright future and someone who’s work I will follow with great interest.” – Shotgun Logic
About Matt Manochio
Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree. He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Press Association Awards for his reporting.
He wrote about one of his passions, rock ‘n’ roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highlight of his journalism career. He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment.
His debut novel, The Dark Servant, was published with Samhain Horror in November of 2014. His second novel, Sentinels, was released November 2015, just prior to Twelfth Krampus Night in December 2015. He currently lives in New Jersey with his son.
Test your luck and enter to see if you’ll win a $50 Amazon Gift Card and a print copy of The Dark Servant (Matt’s Krampus book from 2014). Anyone can enter and you can enter multiple times per day in various ways.
Also, if you review Twelfth Krampus Night and send the link to Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at email@example.com, and click you’ve done this on the Rafflecopter section for it, you will get 5 extra entries!! Any questions, defer them to Erin as well. Click on the Rafflecopter daily to enter!