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…