Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review - "The Dark Servant" by Matt Manochio

Growing up, I was always fascinated by obscure mythology.  Of course, when you are a child, obscure means anything that is not directly part of your culture.  In the case of The Dark Servant by Matt Manochio, the Germanic legend of the Krampus is brought to life to terrorize a small town and all of those brave enough to pick up this tale.

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.

Manochio crafts an astounding tale of terror and adventure as a sleepy New Jersey town begins to have some of its teens snatched without any idea of where they might have gone.  From the first page, The Dark Servant grabs you and refuses to let go.  The action is fast-paced and does not let up for a moment.  The book goes much deeper than that.

Taking on the ideas of good and evil, of right and wrong, Manochio lays bare the sins of those taken by the Krampus.  While it is clearly a tale of horror, this book also touches on some of the issues plaguing high school kids today.  While bullying and school violence are the backdrop for this tale, Manochio weaves these elements into his story in just the right way in order to avoid overshadowing the story with the underlying themes.  With a twist that will leave your head spinning at the end, this story successfully integrates many great elements of writing in order to engage and hold the reader.

If I have one issue with the story, it is that I would have liked to see more character development, especially among the teens targeted by the Krampus.  It is difficult to see some of them as more than just single-minded beings.  Make no mistake, however, as each character serves their purpose in the story to perfection.  By the end, whether you have been naughty or nice, you will not be able to put The Dark Servant down until the very end.

So what’s kind of punch does this story pack?  Check out the Rage score:

Story Concept - 4/5
Story Execution - 4/5
Story Flow - 5/5
Character Development (give-a-damn factor) - 3/5
Gripping visuals/details - 5/5
Entertainment Value/Story Engagement - 4/5
Editing (including grammar and spelling) - 4/5

Overall – 4.14/5 – Don’t find yourself on the Krampus’s list, check out The Dark Servant today!

Get your copy of The Dark Servant today:

Matt Manochio, Biography

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 Lot, Jurassic 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), 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.
Third Recommendation: 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.

Like giveaways?  Enter to win some more great horror items: 

Enter to win one of two great prizes during the #DarknessEmerges Tour.
Ira is giving away a GRAND PRIZE of a signed print copy of his book, The Things in the Darkness, plus a signed copy of his “Office Case” segment from the movie, Scarewaves. As a second prize, he’s giving away another signed print copy! Enter to win through the Rafflecopter below.
Enter now until Nov. 28, 2014. This is a tour wide giveaway, and open to U.S. Residents only due to shipping. If you want to enter from outside the U.S., and you can, but if you win, you’ll receive an e-book.

Direct link to Rafflecopter:

Giveaway for Reviewers!

Anyone on the tour, or outside the tour, who reviews The Things in the Darkness on Amazon and GoodReads and sends their review link into Erin (Publicist for Ira Gansler) at, now through Dec. 31, 2014, will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card.


  1. I'm currently reading this book and it is excellent. Krampus - as the antithesis of Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus -was meant to scare children into behaving themselves all year around and is a fascinating legendary character. For a time, the Austrian government deemed it too frightening for children and celebrating Krampusnacht was banned. It certainly is a great horror creature, and Matt Manochio handles it brilliantly. A riveting, scary read. Loving it!

  2. I would just like to amend my previous comment slightly, as I am guilty of a factual/historical error (sorry!). The Austrian government of the 1930s did indeed ban Krampus, but not for the reason I stated here. If you want to read the correct version. Matt Manochio has it in his excellent book. Krampus is, however, the subject of much ongoing debate in Austria, where some people fear he is too terrifying for children and should be outlawed.