Review: Slender Man by Anonymous
Published by Harper Voyager on October 23, 2018
One man’s search for the truth about one of the most intriguing urban legends ever—the modern bogeyman, Slender Man—leads him down a dark, dangerous path in this creepy supernatural fantasy reminiscent of Night Film, House of Leaves, and Illuminae, that will make you question where the line between legend and fact begins
A young man is desperate to find his missing sister . . . desperate enough to resort to the darkest means. But just how much is he willing to pay the Slender Man in order to save her?
Told through a variety of narrative devices, including photos, journal entries, e-mails, articles, and other artifacts, this unique spine-tingling story is a brilliant and terrifying look at one of the most fascinating—and diabolical—mythical figures in modern times.
OK, this is one seriously addictive and creepy read, and is a perfect pick for Halloween (or any other time of year if you are in the mood). The atmosphere is fantastic, and I love the epistolary style its told in. Fragments of journal entries, text messages, reddit posts, police interviews and recordings are used to lead the reader through a suspenseful mystery. It also makes for a much quicker read, which can be a positive thing when you are anxious to find out what is going on.
The protagonist Matt is our main character and we get a good chunk of the narrative from his journal entries, but we also get information from an assortment of other sources such as text messages, news articles, as well as notes from his psychiatrist to his parents about their sessions.
Matt attends a private school in Manhattan and aspires to be a writer. However, he feels incredible pressure from his dad to become a lawyer (following in both his parents’ footsteps). He has an interesting relationship with a childhood friend, Lauren, who is now a very popular girl at his school (he’s not popular in case you wondering). They don’t exactly intentionally “hide” their on going friendship, but they don’t advertise it either, so almost no one realizes they are still friends. They chat through texts regularly and I think they each have parts of themselves that they only show to each other. I enjoyed the fact that these childhood buddies remained close (in a completely platonic way) despite their very different interests and social circles in their “regular” lives.
When Lauren goes missing, Matt is impacted very deeply. Much more so than anyone realizes. His nightmares, that were already bad, intensify to a point where the question becomes, are these nightmares more than just dreams, is there something super natural going on here that is haunting and terrorizing Matt? And if so, is it possible the same thing happened to Lauren? I was not familiar with the Slender Man urban legend, but the book did a great job of bringing me up to speed and tying it in with Lauren’s disappearance and Matt’s nightmares. The book also captures the high school gossip experience, with online speculation and opinions about everything showing up in chat sessions, teenagers jumping to wild conclusions and spreading their opinions as facts. Actually, that doesn’t seem to just be high school any more, I guess that’s real life in an online world these days. If this type of drama doesn’t work for you, you might not enjoy the book.
If I had to find a criticism, it might be that there were certain passages that seemed to go on longer than I’d have liked. I found myself too anxious to know what happens next to sit patiently through every word, and I am torn on if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I mean, it does show that I was so into the story that I couldn’t wait to get to the details on where the story was headed and that is a huge, huge plus, one that I think out weighs any real negative here. But then I also wonder if that perhaps the balance or order of building suspense versus providing information were a bit off? If there might have been a way to provide both, but structured slightly different so I would not feel a level of impatience in parts of the book? (I’m not a writer or an editor, so I might not be accurate or know what I’m talking about, it’s just a thought).
On another note, I got a kick out of the Reddit conversations, complete with the negative trolls popping in, some people posting nothing useful (and getting downvoted accordingly). Not to mention, some of the usernames were good. Like KJ_Parker_Is_God. It’s a minor thing, but actually added a bit of levity to the story for me, it was a welcome bit of tension relief from time to time to fall into the familiar pattern of reddit conversations. I also want to mention this story was published anonymously and I am quite curious who the author is. They are obviously a fan of the fantasy genre, they are also quite familiar with reddit, so I feel like maybe I might “know” of them from some thing other than this story and I’d love to make the connection. Particularly if they’ve written anything else.
So, overall, I found this to be a great read that was suspenseful and a bit mysterious. I quite enjoyed the style it was told in, and really find my largest complaint is that I don’t know who wrote it.