book review, horror, Joseph Sale

Joseph Sale Month: Who’s Afraid of the Slenderman?

Do you know the Slenderman? Eric Knudsen made him up in 2009, and he quickly spread throughout the internet. Slenderman is a tall, thin figure dressed in a dark suit. His defining feature is his blank, featureless face. Sometimes he has tentacles coming out of his back. He hangs around children.

From a very young age until an older teen, I had a recurring nightmare of a tall man in a suit without any face. Dressed impeccably, he had a bald head without eyes, mouth or nose. He was unspeakably evil and terrifying.

This figure made a profound impact upon me, and I decided to turn him into a fictional version of the Amadhan, a creature from Irish legend who wanders the roads in August and steals the minds of anyone who sees him. I wrote about him in my short story, Heart of Gold, and intended to make him a recurring character in my stories.

Then I heard about the Slenderman. Unfortunately, the similarities were strong enough that I decided to retire my version of the Amadhan.

However, I’ve followed the Slenderman phenomenon with great interest, and when I discovered Joseph Sale had written a book about him, I couldn’t wait to read it.

This book appears to be a murder mystery thriller with a bit of preternatural noir thrown in, however as the story progresses Sale’s signature depth and connection to mythology and the collective unconscious surfaces to deliver a hugely satisfying denouement.

Set in England, the story follows a private investigator who is investigating a series of murders that are blamed on the Slenderman.

The characters of the grizzled PI, Joe, and the mythology professor, Sol, are interesting but a bit familiar. It’s intriguing to see Sale’s epic cosmic struggle peeking through the frame of a horror thriller.

I love how Sale added to the Slenderman lore and enriched it by engulfing Slendie in his own genius imagination.

While this book is very different to his more recent work, I loved what he did with Slenderman and I highly recommend this book.

I award Who’s Afraid of the Slenderman

6 thoughts on “Joseph Sale Month: Who’s Afraid of the Slenderman?”

  1. I wonder if your childhood nightmare and different people’s dream versions of Slenderman are all Hatman which I do think exists because of the many sightings all over the world. The stories are too similar between people of vastly different cultures. (Same with the black eyed children. But now I’m rambling.) At any rate, Who’s Afraid of the Slenderman sounds like a book right up my alley!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After learning about Slenderman I did wonder if there was a real entity inspiring these stories and dreams, and I think Hatman is connected too. I think there is something going, similar to the black eyed children. I hope you enjoy the book!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another great review, Iseult – and I am particularly pleased to see you referring to Joseph’s ‘signature depth’ and also ‘epic cosmic struggle’ as I think these are defining characteristics of his work.

    Liked by 1 person

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