Written by: Mack Moyer
In The Dark Servant, St. Nick unleashes his muscle on a shitbucket North Jersey town for a brutal, puppy-murdering, holiday version of a Scared Straight intervention.
We meet the Krampus, a Christmas 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 adhering to a strange moral code, the Krampus is certainly more original than the myriad Evil Santas we see in Christmas Horror.
The Dark Servant moves fast, allowing the Krampus to go bonkers on various douchebags and douchebaggets around town. No buildup here, guys and gals. Our Anti-Claus starts kidnapping and mutilating kiddies almost immediately.
The heroes here are all easy to identify with. Billy, the hero, is a troubled teenager who just might be more depressed than he lets on. Billy’s older brother, a well-meaning popular kid, gets himself Krampused in the first few chapters and their father is serviceable as the clichéd small town police chief that stories like this always have.
But the monster is the star here. Author Matt Manochio wisely gives us plenty of Krampus carnage early and often. There’s no shortage of scenes where the Krampus bursts out of the woods, swinging a deadly oversized chain and gleefully toying with his victims.
The Krampus is something of an anti-hero, yet remains chilling throughout. Even so, at times the Krampus’ actions can get confusing. He claims to be a soldier of Santa Claus ordered with scaring bad kids into good kids and does so ruthlessly and isn’t, by nature, a bad guy.
So why the hell does the Krampus bite the head off of a puppy? Why does the Krampus attempt to tongue-rape a teenage girl? Granted, the girl in question is a horrible person, but still.
Furthermore, why do so many authors feel the need to include rape or near-rape scenes into their work? It’s like they don’t think it’s enough to show their bad guys murdering and maiming innocents. They’re not truly evil until they start slinging unwanted dongs.
There’s also some stiff dialogue and an unnecessary look into the local media coverage that made the book’s page count feel padded. The Dark Servant could have easily been thirty pages shorter, but hey, that’s not too much of a complaint.
Overall The Dark Servant is a roaring Christmastime horror yarn which might even make you start rooting for the Krampus to kick more ass.