Children this age are largely innocent, and will generally accept any explanation from an adult. An old lady inviting kids into her house for ‘snacks’? Book Review: Penpal by Dathan Auerbach. Pen Pals can take up to a maximum of three schools, and the partnership lasts for one academic year. [Movie Talk] Top 5 Creepy Episodes of Anthology Shows, February 8, 2015 in Horror Story of the Week //, Horror Story of the Week – Mark Allan Gunnells: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Francesco Francavilla ‘Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale’ Review, November 21, 2014 in Featured Articles //, Joe Mynhardt, Shallow Waters Vol.1 review, Jonathan Winn, The Martuk Series Vol. ( Log Out /  She may have abducted two boys for an extended period of time, naming them Chris and John once they were held captive. I love them because you can generally finish one installment in about ten minutes. She could have had a split personality due to her age, which could explain why she seemed to act cold to the narrator that night until she entered her Alzheimer’s stage. I love the fact that Auerbach keeps it nebulous. how what happened to Ms. Maggie’s mind may have been like what happened to Veronica and Josh’s mother. As far as the police report I was curious about that too…and would be kind of ironic to have them look similar, have the same name — could be why Josh was used as the substitute. My decision to examine Auerbach’s inaugural effort proved not only time worthy, but insanely fruitful. And like Boxes and Maggie (but on a much larger scale) his presence in the narrator’s life is a protective one. Five Reasons Drunks Will Always Survive Horror Stories. Did he know himeself? Ummm, does he have any reason to chop her up? -.- Oh and if the the Penpal was still having fun stalking the narrator with his text “See you again, Soon.” Why did he decide to die with Josh in the end? I’ve discovered new novelists, and become familiarized with veterans who had long evaded my attention. When the PP takes the picture of the narrator in the ditch, Josh appears in the photo delivered to the boy’s home. She now knows what the PP looks like, and this is significant to what happens next. You’ll likely guess, based upon the novel’s title alone, that this story focuses on a “penpal” who isn’t exactly… normal. I felt like the stalker might have ended up being Mrs. Maggie’s son, but it was never cleared up. Your review took the words right out of my mouth, expect you were much more coherent and eloquent than I would have been. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. There are clues about each, loud hints, and in Samantha’s case, logical threads, but no satisfactory “aha!” moments. I’m sure a stranger in the house would have alerted the cat and lead to some growling/hissing fits (the narrator himself states that Boxes is a “talker”). A quick summary. Both give reasons for the stalker to kill her. In keeping with my comments above, Let me further ask: How does what happened to Veronica’John’s Mom resemble what happened to Ms. Maggie? Also, when they find Josh’s body in clothes too tight, it is because it is the narrator’s old clothes from when the killer took up home in his old house. « Horror Novel Reviews. Even though it is implied that the narrator is the target of the PP, Josh is present in every interaction. Most of my students were incapable of tying their shoes on a regular basis, and became frustrated trying follow Lego instructions. Thanks for posting your ideas!! This is an eerie tale that pits pure evil against genuine innocence. Also, how did PP know the narrator was going to the movies? A dog would bark at an intruder coming into the house and with a dog barking, the mother would have woken up to catch PP removing her son from his bed. Another theory suggests that the stalker was angry at Mrs Maggie for coming out and interrupting his kidnapping attempt. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Mothers may have been less hyper-vigilant in the ’80’s but they weren’t that nonchalant. When the narrator asks to come inside, I imagine her protectiveness of him takes over and she says no. I will say that I did not read any reviews before picking up the book because I trusted my coworker on his suggestion and the book was so cheap (Kindle version is $4.99!) review. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Prose is bland and first-person intensive. This is telling. After all, he had plenty of practice with animals. But the promise isn’t kept. I also buy that they managed to lead the PP to Josh’s house at the end of ‘Boxes’ and therefore re-focus him on Josh, assuming he no longer knew where the narrator lived. It might still be purchased for chemists or hobbyists, or in a specialized medical environment. Dathan’s mom says to Dathan that if someone did move in with the old lady, that she was delusional enough to think that it is her dead husband; Tom. The stories were adapted for The NoSleep Podcast's debut season in 2011 and narrated by Sammy Raynor. She could have been a sexual predator; a fact that the narrator’s mom felt was too complicated for the narrator to understand at his age. . The entire narrative functions under this practice, and ordinarily, this method makes for murky details and character confusion, but in the case of Penpal, the structure works quite well. The text message that reads “I love you” in which the narrator (thinking he is responding to Veronica) replies “I love you too” is significant. Buy Penpal by Auerbach, Dathan (ISBN: 8601400393642) from Amazon's Book Store. Love the story but the unanswered questions arw just tooo much to handle. Better yet, Chris and John were never her sons, they were boys she had abducted before. In “Balloons” when an unnamed man returns to the snow-cone stand three times (I’m assuming the mysterious man is the PP), it is Josh who receives the “FOR STAMPS” dollar and gives it to the narrator. Obsession- particularly pedophiliac sexual obsession, is something that builds over time. 14 reviews for PenPalWorld, 1.8 stars: 'I tried it for several months, and I could say it's a bad site: in fact I received a message from a guy who told me he had some sexual problems (he enjoyed making some taboo things I couldn't describe here), and a few young people who texted me for a week. He “was bigger than most of the other kids in any grade,” was briefly close the the narrator but failed to make a connection, was obsessed with Veronica, and had good reasons for hating Josh. And he’d been keeping an eye on the narrator from there, while killing others. As he grew bolder such antics from the cat wouldn’t do much (the cat being declawed), he probably went ahead with kidnapping the narrator. Book Reviews: Horror Penpal by Dathan Auerbach. Time flies when you're having fun! Maybe he picked up a thing or two from Ms. Maggie. There is never any indication that the PP’s possession of Josh lessens his obsession with the narrator, but Josh seems to die in the narrator’s “place”. Ranking Every Stephen King Novel, From Worst to First! Food for thought. So I guess this just means I’ll have to re-read it. Plot feels contrived; somewhere between a genuinely scary story and its lampoon for entertainment’s sake. Pen Pal book. Just, to me, choosing to be buried alive with Josh for no apparent reason seems… pointless. His constant “being around” is declarative to his love of the narrator. Overall, your enjoyment of Penpal will be closely linked to your enjoyment of short-form horror. You will never, I repeat NEVER, find anything worthwhile on it. I spent a lot of time thinking about Ms. Maggie and her demise. Had to google whether or not it was a true story haha. AWESOME read. I don’t know about the book, but the Reddit version was awesome. The initial chapter became incredibly popular, and author Dathan Auerbach expanded his narrative to include additional chapters, eventually gathering enough… After all, it was made clear that the narrator could not enter that lady’s house. PENpal Products & Value Packs PENpal Basics: How to use the Recorder Pen Books Guaranteed to Work With PENpal Using PENpal To Foster ELL Oral Language Development. not a problem at all Dathan is a REALLY good guy, and very warm with fans and critics alike. ( Log Out /  And while individually the chapters are creepy and unsettling, the novel as a whole falls a little flat. It seemed like a pretty important part of the story since they talked so much about her there for a while. This book… Not me. Up until then I had assumed they grew apart because the events in the narrator’s old house were super f-ed up and he just wanted to not think about it. Also consider John Wayne Gacy (Gacey?). It was phased out in the late 60’s, well before the Internet and cell phones. Can somebody help? Oh I didn’t think of the son…I thought Tom was her husband who passed away. The theory that I came up with is that the stalker had noticed how Ms. Maggie always invited the narrator and Josh into her house for some snacks; that the boys would dock near her house and would have to return to that house in order to get home. Maggie- Maggie’s story was one of the more confusing in the series. But maybe she thought her son was her husband because of the age (due to her Alzheimer’s). This infuriated the stalker, whom proceeded to murder her by chopping her up into pieces. It wasn’t until I reached the third story that I realized it was a similar setting! I have soo many questions that are nagging me. I can only imagine he is also present when the PP receives the narrator’s response. Josh is bold, loyal, easy-going and loving. I feel in order to make it seem more realistic the holes have been left unfilled but that just makes the story feel like its incomplete. Awesome guy. There is a lot of confusion as to why the PP suddenly switches focus from the narrator to Josh (presumably at the end of “Boxes”). After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Auerbach was able to self-publish this novel under his reddit name 1000Vultures in 2012. When it becomes apparent that they won’t listen to her, she buys them the shark float (which- Bonus- makes a reappearance in the woods in “Footsteps”). Bloody Good Writing Volume 2: Does Sex Sell? The fact that the last chapter is a muddled mess that seeks to “solve” the mystery did not end things on a high note for me. Unfortunately, this becomes the main problem with Penpal. As the games and adventures of his youth become engulfed by a larger story, he finds that it forms a tapestry of unbelievable horror … However, a six-year old boy also has limitations, which Auerbach occasionally forgets. Implied that the stalker has infiltrated the house. Most have their own lives and find it hard to visit their elderly parents. Later it was a gas introduced by a mask put over the nose. A lot of fans wonder why the PP kept not going through with his kidnapping attempts until this point. If you can piece together the significance of the events, you’ll know that the PP starts stalking the narrator after the balloon project which happens sometime in the narrators kindergarten year. Let's see, I published my first novella Hushed, a prequel to the Hushed Horror Thriller series, and my second novel, Whispering. The PP, who is likely enraged by a foiled attempt to engage with the narrator, and probably not wanting any witnesses, kills Maggie and leaves her body in the house to be discovered by the stench. Maybe if the police were getting close to discovering PP? I think it’s worth noting that the author spends a good amount of time conveying Josh’s character to the reader. And you know me, I’m all for finding that next super-scary, sleep-with-the-lights-on book… especially right now, on … The key phrase here is this: Josh is present. it does not mean that Joshua was the victim. I still don’t know how the Mrs Maggie stuff fits in to the larger picture (maybe her sons were killed by the same guy) but I was thinking Josh and the fat kid Alex (who had a crush on Veronica) would have had motive to at least run her over and destroy that relationship. Loved the book though and I think I’ll be playing it over in my head for a while now. ... - Dave Lews, teacher review… The initial chapter became incredibly popular, and author Dathan Auerbach expanded his narrative to include additional chapters, eventually gathering enough to form a short novel. But didn’t know if there was something I may have missed. I’ve only read the online version, but it sounds like the author did a lot of cleanup and hole patching for the book version. Anytime an author casts a child aside, thrown to the jowls of a man-eater, the fear takes on a tangible nature. I too enjoyed this book (for the most part) but was a bit dismayed by the messy storyline, unnecessary filler, and confusing plot points. I thought it was significant that the narrators notes that his mom brought home boxes before he started kindergarten. I do however like your idea of the night the narrator wanted to go in. Why were they briefly separated? This makes Maggie’s loneliness and memory issues more realistic (I thought). Have you looked into the interview I conducted with him? When the narrator leaves the presence of Maggie’s house, it is Josh who lets him into the house (almost as if the two are “changing guard” over the narrator). And i thought it really happened to narrator’s bestfriend!!! hey guys, asked Dathan about this specific detail, and here’s what he told me: “think that might spoil some of the fun, man! Jonathan Maberry, Ramsey Campbell and 16 Other Amazing Horror Authors Tell Us What Books Terrify Them! I might’ve missed something, but I thought he was still around and in town throughout the length of the story. Additionally, I don’t really get the “You Left” comment by Josh. Abhorrent Admirer: The stalker towards Dathan.While we never see him in face to judge him as unattractive until the end at least his obsessive personality surely makes him monstrous. As for the police report with Joshua as the name, that is his friend Josh’s full given birth name. Copyright © 2021 1,920 reviews. Still, why would she hesitate to let the narrator into her house to meet him? He seems found of the narrator (in his own…cat-ly way), he alerts the family to danger, and like the others who love and protect the narrator by foiling the PP’s plans, he pays with his life. That would mean that she would probably see the PP leaving the woods, taking the narrators shirt and putting the drawing into the narrators pants-pocket. Blog at Remember the crawlspace. The insanely popular social outlet has proven a fantastic tool with which to share my writing, but it’s also introduced me to a few aspiring authors, and one damn talented individual by the name of Dathan Auerbach. Each story introduces a related element that is important to the next. Has it really been almost two months since my last book review? In fact, I assumed that the book would be a series of unrelated, short stories and started to read it as such. Because of how close the narrator and Josh are, we can assume that the PP knows Josh just as well as he does the narrator. Ms. Maggie has alzheimers and was getting close to the victim/lived near him, so the killer manipulated her fragile mind into thinking he was her late husband and took up home in her house so he could be close to the narrator. Why is Dean Koontz Loathed in Such Heinous Fashion. When the boys sneak out onto the lake in “Maps”, I suspect Maggie appears on the porch when she hears the commotion out on the lake. I stumbled upon this book last autumn while I was scouring the internet for scary novels in anticipation of Halloween, and was immediately intrigued by the creepy-ass cover art. Also, I noticed on the police report on the last page that it has the name “Joshua” in the top section. That's it. Boxes darting out the door is also heroic in it’s own way. Review #20 Penpal has a rather interesting origin story. This story is as much Josh’s as it is the narrators. This horror novel is about creepy occurrences in the narrators childhood, being told by the author as an … The short-form horror format has limitations that make the transition to long-form narrative a difficult one. Pointing this out in case anyone feels the stalker was duped/fooled into being placated. Very mediocre. I’m sure the PP was sneaking into the narrators room to hold/touch him, until he worked up the nerve to full out kidnap him). He had arrived to his room and dropped/thrown his various items to the floor and crawled into bed. Could there be anything else in those bags? When Boxes goes missing, Josh and the narrator BOTH reminisce over his loss. December 30, 2015 in Featured Articles //, December 28, 2015 in Featured Articles //, Fear the Future: 10 Great Post-Apocalyptic Horror Novels, Read Kevin Wetmore’s ‘Halloween Returns’ Contest Winning Story “Ben Tramer’s Not Going to Homecoming!”. PenPal by Dathan Auerbach is a hell of a ride. (Calling the narrator after the author) The stalker used Josh’s walkie-talkie to relay the fact that he had Boxes. He eventually kills her, and she is chopped up hence the multiple bags. Check out our most recent Penpal Books reviews now! When the PP takes Veronica’s phone and carries out a series of text conversations with the narrator, it’s implied that Josh is killed soon after. The main characters of this horror, fiction story are , . Yeah I got the feeling that the stalker was Mrs. Maggie’s son, although I don’t know who would be in the other bag unless it was her other son. The book has been awarded with , and many others. He proves himself time and time again to be a sacrificial and loyal friend. Was there someone there who killed her or was she just in her final moments of life and her Alzheimer’s was creating hallucinations? Before long, it was adapted into illustrations, audio recordings, and short films; and that was before it was revised and expanded into a novel! I am also late to this party and generally agree with and am thankful for most of the explanations above. (It reeked of death, so it must have been more than just one old lady. I think I’ll reach back out to Dathan and see if he wants to talk about this point specifically. PENPAL | Dathan Auerbach 07.11.2012 | 1000Vultures Rating: 5/5 stars. She frequently offers to feed the boys after their lake swims. While Maggie may not be “all there”, her presence does seem to protect the narrator and Josh. Penpal has a rather interesting origin story. Quite interesting from the point that the stalker was an organized psychopath who took pleasure in stressing Dathan by removing the very people that he loved. Penpal is a chilling tale with an ending that is both satisfying and unexpected. My favorite sections were “Footprints”, “Balloons,” and “Boxes”. I have the same question as Jade. If not, maybe he was trying to be so clever the book would be discussed endlessly, and in that he was right that it would be analyzed more. It acts quickly, like chloroform does, and I believe was originally dripped onto a cloth over the patient’s face. The work was first published in paperback on July 11, 2012 through 1000Vultures and is based on a series of popular creepypasta stories that Auerbach posted to Reddit. The police report states everything that Dathan(or whoever you think it would be) went through at the beggining of the “stalking” from the way it started to when he found the pictures with him in it. When the narrator playfully alters the snow-cones signs in “Balloons” Maggie chuckles and scolds him before buying a snow-cone. Not that I’m Ridley Scott or Penpal is Blade Runner, but you get the idea haha.”, LOL aw man!! During my quest for great fiction I’ve discovered some grand slams and some embarrassing strikeouts. But I don’t imagine the mother would have come out alive. Who knows, maybe you will find your Marie Antoinette on this list of the best sites to find pen pals. He could have taken it upon himself to end their suffering (as well as gain more experience) by chopping them up as well. Not to disparage small children, they are brilliant in their own way, but it is utterly improbable that two unsupervised six-year old boys could build a full-sized raft. 5 Horror Authors You Have to Read and Follow in 2016! However, when viewed as a whole it becomes limited in its ability to scare. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Constantly seeking adventure, always teetering on the brink of defiance, but undeniably kind and attentive, it’s easy to attach yourself to the exploits of this character – that possesses traits that actually remind me a bit of myself as a boy – both as an innocent kindergartener as well as maturing teenager. Book Review for iHunt: Killing Monsters in the Gig Economy by David A. Hill Jr. Book Review for The Demon of Decay by Alex C. Gates, Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Dathan Auerbach’s ‘Penpal’ Will See Cinematic Adaptation! Love you too ”, “ Balloons, ” grand slams and some embarrassing strikeouts imagine the mother have. Read the book tiring and irritating, not another character in his new home so... Pp looks like, and the partnership lasts for one academic year s murder and the PP ( a sentence... Into bed said something to the effect of more than just having her sons because the narrator he! Helpful in the narrator ’ s full given birth name and receive notifications new! The land clearing had some effect on wherever he was disturbed enough by experience! 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