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The Dark Servant

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  39 reviews
"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
Paperback, 290 pages
Published November 14th 2014 by Samhain Publishing (first published November 4th 2014)
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  99 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
4 1/2 Stars

I know you know it:

“He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake “

Think that song’s a little creepy? Well, trust me, after reading The Dark Servant, those seemingly innocent lyrics will forevermore take on an ominous new meaning. Author Matt Manochio fills in all the blanks implied in those words up there.

Santa has an evil sidekick named Krampus. Krampus is not cuddly. Nor is he a kind, plump fool doling o
Something is snatching teens in a small New Jersey town during the winter holiday season and it's not Santa. Krampus has come to town and he is deciding who has been naughty and who has been nice. When the son of the police chief, Billy, finds his older brother has been taken he decides to try and find out what's happened to the missing teens and in doing so has to confront a few home truths about himself.

This was a fairly enjoyable read, there were a few issues I had with the conversations
Angel Gelique
Hancock Township in New Jersey is your typical modernized, picket-fenced community. When, just weeks before Christmas, three teenagers are kidnapped during a snowstorm, everyone is rattled, especially Police Chief Donald Schweitzer. His son, Tim, is amongst the missing.

After finding hoofprints in the snow, Tim's brother Billy begins to suspect that a beast, not a man, is the culprit. It isn't long before he comes face to face with the massive creature--Krampus himself.

With some help from a coup
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
In this clever, frightening, and not just for the Holidays horror tale, author Matt Manochio crafts a novel centered around the Krampus story, but set in New Jersey. Kids have disappeared, one of them the town sheriff's eldest son. And as the sheriff and his younger son attempt to put the pieces together of the potentially horrifying puzzle, the real reason for the disappearances is both terrifying and unique. My only minor criticism would be some of the dialogue between teen characters felt a b ...more
Nov 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Krampus is good ole St. Nicks cloven hoofed minion that is sent out to discipline bad little boys and girls that find themselves on the naughty list. Now he has been summoned to come to Hancock Township and reign down some holiday beatings on a few of the residents. That is if he can manage to round up the appropriate “naughties” and make them see the error of their ways before the Krampusnacht ends.

An entertaining creature feature torn from German folklore and plopped in the middle of present d
Michael Hicks
I'm the kind of guy who thinks that Die Hard is the best Christmas movie ever, while absolutely despising A Christmas Story wholeheartedly. And, frankly, give me Scrooged over the straight-up Dickens classic come Dec. 25, or even Lethal Weapon. Heresy? Yeah, maybe, but whatever... All of this is to say that when it comes to Christmas stories, I'm looking for something a bit off-kilter, something most holiday purists would see as largely non-traditional.

In short, give me Krampus over Santa Claus
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: group-read, samhain
First off, I really enjoyed the overall theme and seeing the TRUE bullies having to own up to the--sometimes horrific things--that they've uncaringly done to others. Sadly, there were parts in that manner that I could see happening all too clearly.

I did have a few issues with the story, however. The dialog between the kids and adults just seemed "off"--almost as if the adults just weren't as bright as the kids. Another point was that some of these "kids" were 18 years old, and in my eyes, more l
May Fungi From Yuggoth

Fast, exhilarating, and adventurous, DARK SERVANT introduces a "horror" creature new to most readers in the United States: Krampus, an enormous, ugly, horned and cloven-hoofed monstrosity who is somewhat the dark facet of Saint Nick. Forget lumps of coal, and think switching, broken bones, and flesh-eating. No rest for the wicked boys and girls on December 5--Krampusnacht. He knows where you live, and whether you've been naughty or nice--and he' s coming for
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book delivers a good old-fashioned monster tale, where the creature is after some children. However, this one comes with a twist, as the creature is no other than Krampus, Santa's Dark Servant. He takes those children that are on the naughty list for behaving badly, especially for bullying other kids. If the children freely acknowledge and honestly regret their deeds they may be spared a brutal punishment. But this year in New Jersey, Krampus made a mistake, and now he is the one in trouble ...more
Hunter Shea
Nov 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Matt Manochio for making Christmas cool! I don't know how a monster as awesome as Krampus flew under my radar all these years. What a great beast, and a beast of a novel to boot. The Dark Servant is deliciously creepy fun, jammed with mystery and mayhem. An excellent debut novel.
Hal Bodner
Apr 12, 2015 rated it liked it
THE DARK SERVANT by Matt Manochio proved a surprisingly difficult book to review. This novel evidences a freshness and a creative ingenuity that is far in excess of what I’ve seen from any new author in recent years. There is a tremendous amount of potential here. I’ll restate that for emphasis–the potential of this book is nothing short of stunning. Yet, in the end, Manochio tragically fails to realize more than a small percentage of it.

I desperately wanted to like this book. I wanted to love
Apr 09, 2015 rated it liked it
You don't want to get on Santa's bad side, kids. It's always a thrill to read a book written by a friend, and this story is thrilling by definition. Here are a few quotes that made me chuckle:

"It's pretty smutty stuff. I'm surprised AC/DC hasn't written a song about Krampus," [Mike] said. (p162-3)

"I can't believe how big that bear was, Chief -- bigger than Governor Christie."
"Leave Chris out of this, I like the guy. My union might not, but I do."
"All kidding aside, Chief, that bear was friggin h
Rich D.
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2014
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
Angela Crawford
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
From the Description:

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 reje
Glenn Rolfe
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it

Matt Manochio is one of the new kids on the block. Not Joey, Jordon, Jonathan, Danny, or even Donnie…no, he’s the AC/DC lovin’ new guy at Samhain Horror. Not familiar? Well, you should rectify that ASAP. After crafting two unpublished crime novels (one of which he sold to the sinking Dorchester ship, but never saw released), Matt heard the story of Krampus.


Let Wikipedia help us there:
Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during
Matthew Baker
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.

I finished this book prior to t
Aaron Bunce
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Dark Servant – a review.
The first thing I noticed about The Dark Servant was the cover. Admittedly, I have a thing for monsters. I must also confess that when I first picked up this book to start reading I knew next to nothing about the Krampus folklore. Boy was I in for a treat! Also known as the “Christmas Devil”, Krampus was the dark side to St. Nicholas’ light. Where Nicholas rewarded good children, Krampus punished the bad, and so on.
With that understanding firmly in place, I sat down a
Catherine Cavendish
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
We all know about benevolent Santa Claus, don't we? But, unless you grew up in Austria, Germany or another country in that part of Europe, you may well have never come across Krampus - Santa's antithesis. By selecting this particular 'monster', the author has provided us with a Christmas horror tale. Krampus has one role to perform, he must do his Master's bidding and discipline naughty children. But before your mind creates a vision of a crying child on the naughty step, look at the cover. It i ...more
Ira Gansler
Nov 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.

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 mi
Patricia Kaniasty
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was by far the best Krampus story that I have ever read. However, this one is not for little kids. Older kids maybe. Krampus was scary, gory, exciting, and yes......even funny. I really loved the ending. Did not see it coming..............well not entirely.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, suspense
Krampus! Need I say more? Growing up I was tormented by tales of Krampus, Perchta among others and I love the modern setting for the story. This was surprisingly good and I might return to it next Christmas as a regular holiday read!
It’s about teenagers and bullying and there’s probably a few kids and adults who should read this. Santa Claus is way too sugar coated in a North America.
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Promising premise but I just wasn’t satisfied with any of the characters’ motivations, nor did I like the editorializing that, in more cases than not, felt totally out of place with the characters speaking it.
Michael Juvinall
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The Dark Servant (2014) Book Review

A novel by Matt Manochio

Published by Samhain Publishing

Reviewed by Michael Juvinall – Horror Society

Up until the last decade or so, most people here in America hadn’t even heard of Krampus or the mythology behind him. But this ancient creature of Alpine lore has become increasingly well-known in this country due to emerging anti-Christmas festivals in cities around the country that celebrate Krampusnacht on December 5th, the day before the Feast of Saint Nichol
Mack Moyer
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
In The Dark Servant, St. Nick unleashes his muscle in a shitbucket North Jersey town for brutal, puppy-murdering, holiday version of a Scared Straight intervention.


We meet the Krampus, an X-Mas demon popular in German folklore known for snatching bad kids. It’s about time someone cashed in on the Krampus for some holiday scares. Large, horned, hairy and a follower of a strange moral code, the Krampus is certainly more original than the myriad “Evil Santas” we see in Christmas Horro
Desiree Putaski
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of Krampus. And what is Krampus you ask? Well, here’s a little tidbit…

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.

I don’t remember my grandmother ever calling it by this name, but it’s basically the same concept.

Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: young audience, teens
Recommended to Thom by: author
Shelves: done
Remember those parental threats, when your behavior was a little off, that you might be headed for a lump of coal in your stocking on St. Nick's night? Well, Matt Manocio's tale turns the heat up on that action in his novel "The Dark Servant". Released in time for the holidays, the Germanic folklore holiday monster, Krampus, serves as the villain in this fast paced story. A series of strange disappearances of several of the towns children quickly grabs the reader's interest as citizens scramble ...more
Mae Clair
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
THE DARK SERVANT by Matt Manochio showed up on one of my email subscription lists and I was intrigued enough by the blurb to give it a go. Part thriller, part horror story, part YA novel, THE DARK SERVANT has Krampus showing up in modern day New Jersey and snatching several high school kids with bad attitudes.

The protagonist of the book is the sheriff’s seventeen-year-old son. Billy begins to put the pieces together and soon realizes the abductions have been perpetrated by a hulking, hairy monst
Stuart West
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Manochio's The Dark Servant unfolded like a solid horror film playing across the big screen. It's well-written, fast-paced, thrilling, chilling in parts, even darkly amusing on occasion. The plot's simple enough: Krampus comes to visit at Christmastime, doling out pain and punishment to all of the bad boys and girls. But even though the plot's fairly straight-forward, Manochio still manages to serve up some serious surprises before the book reaches its conclusion. Best of all, Manochio puts his ...more
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it
In the interest of full disclosure, this book was offered for a review through the Horror Writers Association, of which I am a member. Overall I felt it was a solid first novel with a truly horrific antagonist, and the story moved well. The writing was competent and engaging, though I suspect the author will improve in this aspect over time and develop a more professional "voice". Not to say this novel was lacking, but only that it came across a little raw, which served to keep reminding me it w ...more
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a good book - the plan was to read before xmas but, life gets in the way. It didn't lose any atmosphere reading it after the holidays, it was a pretty good premise and like another poster mentioned I quite liked the dialogue of the Krampus himself - dark sense of humor just how I like it :) but in the end it fell a little flat for me - it was a one-time read, which for me is why it's only 3 stars.
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I've been writing and editing professionally for my entire adult life. I spent most of that time in the newspaper business. Writing novels is what I enjoy doing the most, and I'm fortunate enough to have Samhain Publishing backing my debut, The Dark Servant. Those of you who enjoy Christmas, mayhem and demons will love it. When I'm not writing, I'm wrangling my toddler from mischief.