Posts Tagged ‘Matt Manochio’

I am a bit late with my 2015 as the first month of 2016 is rapidly coming to a close, but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. 2015 was a great year here at The Horror Bookshelf. The blog celebrated its one year anniversary back in April, I made some great friends, I got to take part in SFSignal’s Mind Meld feature and I had the honor of premiering a brand new story from Glenn Rolfe.

I never really made a post for The Horror Bookshelf’s first anniversary, so I wanted to just take a minute and touch on a few things before getting to my list of favorite reads for the year. I started this blog as my way of giving back to the extremely talented writers who have created the books I enjoy reading and connecting with other horror fans. In that respect, I think the first year of The Horror Bookshelf was a huge success. I am so thankful for all of the writers and publishers who reached out to me and offered me review copies and words of encouragement along the way. Without you and the books you spend so much time crafting, The Horror Bookshelf would not exist. I also want to thank anyone who has ever taken the time to read any of my reviews, interviews or guest posts. There is no greater feeling as a reviewer than introducing someone to a potentially new favorite author or a great book and I hope that by visiting this site, you have found a few.

There are so many people to thank for helping this blog become what it is today, but I wanted to take a moment to thank a few special people who have shown me a humbling amount of support since the very beginning. A huge thank you to my friends and family, Tony and Sharon at Grey Matter Press, John F.D. Taff, David Spell, Mark Matthews, Dale Elster and Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. You have all offered me so much support and tons of encouragement when The Horror Bookshelf was getting off the ground and I will always be grateful for that. I also want to thank my beautiful wife for encouraging me to follow my dreams and for giving me that boost of confidence I need when I feel like I can’t possibly keep everything going.

I am not usually big on New Year’s Resolutions, but what the hell, I came up with some for The Horror Bookshelf anyway.

1. Read more in 2016 – This one is fairly vague and for anyone that runs a review site, it sounds borderline crazy. I read a ton of great novels in 2016, but one of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t read that many novellas, short stories or anthologies this year. I hope to change that in 2016 and also to increase the amount of novels I read in a year.

2. Get more organized – I am notorious for my poor organizational habits, but I have already made some progress by using a planner (that my wife made me buy) to help me keep track of all my upcoming reviews, interviews and features. This may be the most mundane and boring resolution of the list, but it is an underrated part of keeping a review site going in my opinion.

3. Keeping the site updated more frequently – This may be the biggest challenge of them all. I am the only writer on The Horror Bookshelf and the amount of reviews I have going at any given time can be overwhelming, but I want to set a modest goal – starting in February – of posting at least once a week. Sort of on the same topic, if I owe you a review and have not posted it yet, I promise I haven’t forgotten! I appreciate every author that sends me a book for review and sometimes time gets away from me, but I promise I will get to them soon.

Here is a list of my favorite reads from 2015. I decided to go with a Top 10 for novels, a Top 5 for novellas and a Top 3 for Anthologies and Collections. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I hope you find some great new reads on this list!

1 . Brian Kirk We Are Monsters (Samhain Horror)

we are monsters

2. Richard Thomas Disintegration (Random House Alibi)


3. Ronald Malfi Little Girls (Kensington)


4. Ania Ahlborn Behind These Walls (Gallery Books)


5. Hunter Shea Tortures of the Damned (Kensington/Pinnacle)


6. Jonathan Janz Wolf Land (Samhain Horror)


7. D. Alexander Ward Blood Savages (Necro Publications)


8. Russell James Q Island (Samhain Horror)


9. Glenn Rolfe Blood and Rain (Samhain Horror)


10. Kristopher Rufty Jagger (Sinister Grin Press)



1. John F.D. Taff The Sunken Cathedral (Grey Matter Press)


2. Kealan Patrick Burke Sour Candy (Self-published)


3. Glenn Rolfe Abram’s Bridge (Samhain Horror)


4. Adam Howe Gator Bait (Comet Press)


5. Matt Manochio Twelfth Krampus Night (Samhain Horror)


Anthologies and Collections

1. Savage Beasts (Grey Matter Press)


2. Todd Keisling Ugly Little Things – Volume One (Precipice Books)


3. Tony Knighton Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia Cruelties (Crime Wave Press) 

happy hour




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.

Rating: 5/5


Matt Manochio’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase Twelfth Krampus Night: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror or your favorite bookstore!

Krampus tour graphic (1)

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

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, 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!




Length: 264 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: November 3, 2015

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the Sentinels Blog Tour

My first introduction to Matt Manochio’s work was reading The Dark Servant on his blog tour last year. Manochio took the legend of Krampus  – the terrifying beast that serves as a dark foil to Santa Claus – and crafted a super fun read that was full of adrenaline fueled scenes and dark humor. Reading The Dark Servant, it was clear that Manochio was a talented author and I was excited to see what he would come up with next. So when I was approached to join the blog tour for his follow up novel Sentinels, I jumped at the chance.

Sentinels is a supernatural historical horror story set in Reconstruction-era South Carolina. It opens with a pretty intense scene as a rag-tag group of criminals led by Lyle and his friends Brendan and Franklin attempting to kill former slave Toby Jenkins in order to steal the deed for the massive farm he inherited from Charlie Stanhope for the nefarious land baron Thomas Diggs. As they encircle the property, they are attacked by mysterious, shadowy figures and barely escape with their lives.

Noah Chandler is a brand new sheriff’s deputy and was raised in South Carolina but fought for the North after attending Harvard for his law degree. He witnessed his brother die on the battlefield as they fought against each other, an event that still weighs heavy on his conscience. Despite his allegiances during the war, he moves back to his hometown of Henderson after the war in an effort to assist the Reconstruction efforts he deeply believes in. Noah finds himself quickly thrust into a bloody and bizarre situation in his first few days on the job when seven Ku Klux Klan members and two northern soldiers are found savagely murdered outside of a nearby plantation. Noah and the other sheriffs find little evidence and have no idea who would have committed the horrible crimes considering the victims belonged to two opposing groups. It isn’t until Noah talks to one of the survivors, Robert Culliver, that he gets any information at all. Culliver states that it wasn’t men that massacred those men, but wraiths. He said that they moved with precision and that even when they were shot by the soldiers trying to defend themselves, they didn’t bleed like normal men.

Noah chalks up Culliver’s ravings about supernatural entities to the shock of witnessing such a brutal attack and the injuries he sustained. Surely wraiths couldn’t be responsible for killing those men, even if the circumstances surrounding their deaths were a bit bizarre. It isn’t until Culliver is murdered in his heavily guarded jail cell and Noah witnesses a series of unexplained events in the attack that he begins to suspect that there may be some truth to Culliver’s claims. As Noah begins to investigate the attacks, he and his family are plunged into danger and he learns the startling truth about the wraiths.

I am a bit of a history nut, so I loved Manochio’s decision to use the period of Reconstruction as the setting for Sentinels. Lately, I have read a lot of horror books that take place in modern times, so it was refreshing to read a novel with a more historical setting. Manochio gives an unflinching look at the horrors of slavery and the violence that plagued the country during the Civil War and after it was over. There is one particular scene where Toby details his childhood to Noah while they are sharing drinks in the town’s tavern that is particularly gut wrenching. Even though it is clear early on Toby is somehow connected to the brutal attacks carried out by the mysterious figures that plunge Henderson into chaos, it is this scene that makes the reader feel a connection to Toby.

I loved the wraiths Manochio conjures up in the novel and they are definitely creepy! I don’t want to spoil their appearance, but there is a scene toward the end of the novel that had an old school horror feel too it that I enjoyed. While I thought the wraiths were a cool and interesting choice as a horror monster, I felt their history was a bit rushed and ambiguous. Manochio does provide some back story on the wraiths and how they were unleashed on the town of Henderson, but I feel it would have been more effective if it was handled in bits and pieces instead of having it all explained toward the end of the novel.

Manochio does a great job of bringing most of his main characters to life and giving them distinct personalities from the arrogant aristocrat Thomas Diggs to the often mocked criminal Franklin. Noah’s wife Natalie and widower Doreen Culliver seem to be one dimensional early on, but as the novel progresses they become much more complex and one scene late in the novel proves they are total badasses.  Although most of the characters are well developed, there are a few secondary characters that fall flat and get lost in the action. I also loved how Manochio managed to blur the lines between good and evil throughout Sentinels. There are a few characters throughout the novel that stay firmly on one side of the spectrum, but some of them are a lot harder to label. There are characters who start off as good but are forced to do bad things out of necessity and some who are seen as evil only to go against all odds and finally do the right thing.

There are some nice twists and surprises thrown into Sentinels that I didn’t see coming while reading, but after finishing the novel, I realized there were clues to some of the mysteries all along. I love those sort of little surprises and they definitely added to my enjoyment of the novel. Despite a few minor style choices that didn’t work for me, Sentinels is a highly entertaining read that I would definitely recommend to horror fans and particularly those who enjoy historical horror. I am a big fan of both of Manochio’s works and I am looking forward to reading his upcoming novella, Twelfth Krampus Night, which is a medieval tale featuring the infamous Krampus and the equally terrifying Frau Perchta. Twelfth Krampus Night comes right in time for the holidays, hitting shelves on December 1st from Samhain Horror.

Rating: 4/5


Matt Manochio’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase Sentinels: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror or your favorite bookstore!

Sentinels tour graphic (1)

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Sentinels! – #Sentinels  #history #historicalhorror

Sentinels Synopsis

These are no ordinary killers.

They don’t distinguish between good and evil. They just kill. South Carolina’s a ruthless place after the Civil War. And when Sheriff’s Deputy Noah Chandler finds seven Ku Klux Klansmen and two Northern soldiers massacred along a road, he cannot imagine who would murder these two diametrically opposed forces.

When a surviving Klansman babbles about wraiths, and is later murdered inside a heavily guarded jail cell, Noah realizes something sinister stalks his town. He believes a freed slave who’s trying to protect his farm from a merciless land baron can help unmask the killers. Soon Noah will have to personally confront the things good men must do to protect their loved ones from evil.

Praise for Matt Manochio

“Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.” – Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead

“A real page turner. Matt Manochio has gained a fan in me!” – David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Thriller series, on The Dark Servant

“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted. A clockwork mechanism of terror! Highly recommended!” – Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Shattered, on The Dark Servant

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, and currently lives in New Jersey with his son.



Publisher: Samhain Horror

Length: 290 Pages

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Let’s face it, Halloween and autumn have a stranglehold on the horror genre. It seems every time autumn rolls around and the air begins to get chilly, we are overwhelmed with lists of books and movies that are meant to get us in the spirit. While Halloween may be the undisputed king of all things horror, Christmas has its own legend that rivals the terror of any of Halloweens traditional icons. That legend is Krampus, a cloven-footed beast that serves as the dark foil for Santa Claus. While Santa Claus gets all the publicity since he is responsible for spreading joy and bringing presents to children (how can you not like Santa Claus), Krampus is just as important a figure whose own past stretches back to pre-Christian traditions. He is the one responsible for those who find themselves on the “naughty” list and is tasked with punishing them until they repent. While many children may scoff at the idea of receiving coal in their stocking, I have a feeling none of them would laugh at the idea of an enormous beast armed with sharp talons, a heavy chain and various other weapons dragging them from their homes.

Matt Manochio uses this folklore as the basis for his debut novel, The Dark Servant, and goes right for the jugular with his opening chapter. It is Decemeber 5th, which is also known as “Krampusnacht”, and 18-year-old Travis Reardon is on his way to school. He seemingly has it all – football scholarships from numerous Division I schools, a beautiful girlfriend and a brand new car. His idyllic life is smashed when he discovers that the source of the foul odor he smelled all morning and the growls coming from the forest belong to a hulking beast that seems ripped right from his nightmares. It smashes his car with a giant chain before using its talons to rip Travis from his vehicle and effortlessly toss him into the large wooden crate strapped to its back. Travis Reardon becomes Krampus’ first unlikely victim and certainly won’t be his last.

The novel then focuses on 17-year-old Billy Schweitzer, a seemingly average teenager who lives in Hancock Township, New Jersey. After discovering his fellow classmates and older brother Tim  have gone missing under mysterious circumstances, Billy makes a startling discovery about the truth behind their disappearances while working on a project for his German class. Armed with little more than the folklore behind the Krampus and their wits, Billy, his longtime crush Maria and his best friend Mike decide to investigate the disappearances and soon find themselves face to face with an unstoppable evil.

The Dark Servant is a highly entertaining debut effort and has many strengths beyond the originality of basing the story around Krampus. Manochio does an excellent job of utilizing pacing in this novel. Krampus literally bursts onto the scene in the opening chapter and is a constant presence throughout the novel, eliminating any potential lulls in the action. The characters are also well-developed in the novel. Billy is a character that anyone can relate to, whether they are currently a teenager or just someone who remembers those years well. He struggles with the divorce of his parents, living up to the reputation of his older brother Tim and dealing with the embarrassment of being turned down by his longtime crush. Manochio also does an excellent job of bringing Krampus to life and putting his own spin on the mythology behind the creature. Manochio sticks fairly close to the traditional hallmarks of the Krampus legend – his appearance, the rutens left on the porches of his victims and the chain among other things – but elevates him beyond being simply a frightening adversary by giving him a distinctive personality complete with a warped sense of morality and a dark sense of humor.

Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant is an absolute blast to read and horror fans looking to get into the holiday spirit will absolutely want to pick this one up! I can’t wait to see what other stories Manochio has planned for the future as he is definitely a talented new author to keep an eye on.

Rating: 4/5


Matt Manochio Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase The Dark Servant on Amazon

Today I am happy to be hosting a guest post by Samhain Horror author Matt Manochio as part of the blog tour for his debut novel, The Dark Servant. Matt talks about one of the only novels that managed to scare him as he was reading it. Check out Matt’s post below to see what book that was and the inspiration it provided for The Dark Servant! Be sure to check out the end of this feature for details on a pretty cool giveaway from Matt Manochio and Hook of a Book Media & Publicity! My review for The Dark Servant will be posted on December 3, so be sure to stop back and check out what I thought of the book.



Thank you to The Horror Bookshelf for hosting me and for reviewing my book. As I write this, I don’t know what The Horror Bookshelf thinks of The Dark Servant. We’ll find out soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to highlight the one novel that, as I sat reading it, scared me to the point where my pulse raced.

Books typically don’t spook me. Movies scare me because they provide the visuals and audios—books don’t. Authors provide the words and you use them to paint the picture and turn the phonograph.

Frank Peretti’s Monster, came out in 2005, and I didn’t pick it up until a few years later. I’d never heard of either the author or book, but the cover caught my attention and I read the jacket copy. It intrigued me enough to buy. Mission accomplished on the publisher’s side. Here’s a bare-bones description:

A husband and wife venture into Idaho woodlands. They camp out the first night and hear unholy screams in the darkness. The husband witnesses a gigantic beast snatch his wife and bound into the darkened forest. Now he’s hell bent on rescuing her.

There’s certainly more to it than that, and truth be told I don’t rank it anywhere near the top of my favorite books list. But Frank did something only one other author—Stephen King, in Pet Sematarymanaged to do. And Frank did it better.

The Pet Sematary scene was simple enough: Louis and Jud went walking in the woods (at night, of course) to the graveyard. Stephen’s description of their journey through the dark woods gave me the chills. (Truth be told, I was in either middle or high school when I read it, and didn’t bother finishing the book. And it wasn’t because those few lines frightened me into not wanting to keep going. It didn’t hold my attention. Hey, it happens.)

Monster scared me when the campers first hear pained cries made by some unseen horror in the woods. Frank wrote it in such a way that I could hear the screams—or at least imagine the terror those campers felt not knowing what made them. Frank’s description of those tormented cries, and the frightened campers’ reactions to them, let loose the butterflies in my stomach and chest. My house was quiet, nobody was home when I read it. My attention was on that book and that scene. And it creeped me out. I remember thinking at the time: this doesn’t happen to me. It amazed me that Frank was able to pull it off. I don’t want reprint the passages here word for word. I want you to discover them for yourself, if you’re so inclined. (And yes, I finished Monster.)

I attempt to pay homage to Frank early in my book. Monster was running through my mind as I wrote the scene in December 2012. And I honestly hope it jangles readers’ nerves as they read.

– Matt Manochio

Matt tour graphic 1

About Krampus

December 5 is Krampus Nacht — Night of the Krampus, a horned, cloven-hoofed monster who in pre-Christian European cultures serves as the dark companion to Saint Nicholas, America’s Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas rewards good children and leaves bad ones to Krampus, who kidnaps and tortures kids unless they repent.

 The Dark Servant Synopsis and Praise

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.

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

“Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.”
Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling co-author of American Sniper

“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 of the Event Group Series

“I scarcely know where to begin. Is this a twisted parental fantasy of reforming recalcitrant children? Is it Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Nightmare on Elm Street? Is it a complex revision of the Medieval morality play? 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. This is a winter’s tale, yes, but it is also a genuinely new one for our modern times. I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.”
Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead and Dog Days

“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

“In The Dark Servant, Manochio spins a riveting tale of a community under siege by a grotesque, chain-clanking monster with cloven-hooves, a dry sense of wit, and a sadistic predilection for torture. As Christmas nears and a snowstorm paralyzes the town, the terrifying Krampus doesn’t just leave switches for the local bullies, bitches, and badasses, he beats the living (editor’s note: rhymes with skit) out of them! Manochio balances a very dark theme with crackling dialogue, fast-paced action, and an engaging, small-town setting.”
Lucy Taylor, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Safety of Unknown Cities

“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

“A high-octane blast of horror. A surefire hit for fans of monsters and gore.”
Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown

“Have yourself a scary, nightmare-y little Christmas with The Dark Servant. Matt Manochio’s holiday horror brings old world charm to rural New Jersey, Krampus-style.”
Jon McGoran, author of Drift

About Matt Manochio


Photo Credit: Eric Schnare

Matt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway. He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer. The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer’s Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller. Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn’t own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)

Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s LotJurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).

Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in history/journalism.

See more about Matt and his book on his website: and follow him on Facebook, Twitter (@MattManochio) and Pinterest.

Tour Giveaway!

For everyone! Create a Pinterest board by choosing one of the following themes: Krampus, Old World Legends, Vintage Holiday, Old World Christmas, Christmas Around the World, Traditions and Legends,  Myths, Monsters, and Horror, or something very similar.

Second rule: You must pin Matt’s book cover and Amazon purchase link or Samhain Horror Purchase link.

Third Rule: Follow Matt Manochio and Erin Al-Mehairi.

Extra points for pinning extra things about Matt, such as tour page, articles, etc.

Your board will be judged on the above PLUS your creativity and effort in the project! Send Erin at your Pinterest page to enter by Dec. 8. Of course you can continue to use it through the Holiday if you wish!

Prize: A “Santa Checked His List and I’m on the Naughty Side” package. This will include your choice of Krampus themed apparel (t-shirt or sweatshirt, men or women, visuals to come) and a signed paperback of the book.

There might be shipping limitations. Check back to tour page before entering if you live outside the U.S. for updated information.


And a board about Matt:

Giveaway for Reviewers!

Anyone on the tour, or outside the tour, who reviews The Dark Servant on Amazon and GoodReads and sends their review link into Erin (Publicist for Matt Manochio) at, now through Dec. 31, 2014, will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.