April 24, 2019

Penpal by Dathan Auerbach

Penpal began as a series of short and interconnected stories posted on an online horror forum. Before long, it was adapted into illustrations, audio recordings, and short films; and that was before it was revised and expanded into a novel!
How much do you remember about your childhood?
In Penpal, a man investigates the seemingly unrelated bizarre, tragic, and horrific occurrences of his childhood in an attempt to finally understand them. Beginning with only fragments of his earliest years, you'll follow the narrator as he discovers that these strange and horrible events are actually part of a single terrifying story that has shaped the entirety of his life and the lives of those around him. If you've ever stayed in the woods just a little too long after dark, if you've ever had the feeling that someone or something was trying to hurt you, if you remember the first friend you ever made and how strong that bond was, then Penpal is a story that you won't soon forget, despite how you might try.

Okay, this has to be one of the creepiest and most unsettling books I have read in a very long time. There were times I was reading it at night and I had to put it down and turn on a comedy show just so I could fall asleep. I don’t know if it was because of the story or the way it was written, but it got to me real good.

It’s crazy that Penpal started as just some short stories online because Auerbach expanded it into a novel. It isn't the best writing I've ever read, but it does really grip you.

The novel follows the main character as he uncovers the truth about his past and the memories that haunt him. You follow along as he processes through his childhood. What happened to him is truly inconceivable and it brings horror to one of the fun aspects of being a kid – penpals.

This is a truly haunting book that is a pretty quick read once it sucks you in. Maybe just don’t read it right before bed.

3.5/5 Stars

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