Slender Man: Harper Voyager’s haunting new book is ghastly good

Slender Man is an epistolary novel following the journal entries of Matt Barker as he seeks to discover the truth about the mysterious disappearance of Lauren Bailey.

One of the most compelling aspects of the Slender Man story is the nature of his creation. It’s not possible to tell a story about Slender Man without allowing form for meta-commentary. He originated back in 2009 in an online horror thread and has since taken on a life of his own. What makes Slender Man so scary is that in every piece of fictional media about him, he is summoned by people interacting with him in online forums – i.e. the place he was originated in real life.

All of this took a surreal, horrifying turn in 2014 when Slender Man served as the basis for a stabbing in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Two young girls stabbed their classmate because they believed they would be murdered by Slender Man if they did not.

Since then, there has been countless television episodes based on Slender Man, such as Lost Girl, Law & Order: SVU, and Supernatural. This past summer, a film was released sharing the same name, although it didn’t have much to do with the murder and featured an original story (although still sharing similar traits, such as the summoning of him due to an internet-based ritual and video).

Slender Man movie, courtesy of Sony

That said, while Slender Man has certainly established his place in the hall of iconic horror figures, the movie did not perform well critically or at the box office. I think some aspects of the legend tend to lend itself to parody and therefore can be difficult to take seriously.

That’s why I found the upcoming Harpers Voyager (an imprint of HarpersCollins Publisher) a breath of fresh air for the monster.

“Slender Man” is an epistolary novel, it is told through Matt Barker’s journal entries, voice recordings, texts, emails, and police interviews with various characters. It’s a fast, addicting read about a Manhattan high school where one of the girls goes missing.

The girl, Lauren Bailey, was your stereotypical popular girl – on the outside – but she had a dark side, one that Matt embraced and allowed her an outlet for. Due to their friendship, Matt becomes a central suspect in the investigation and decides to take matters into his own hands when he is lead to believe her disappearance may be more sinister than anyone could have anticipated.

One thing I really appreciated about the novel’s approach is Slender Man is not overused, but his impact is felt. We get to experience more of the psychological and mental effects, making the scares more subtle as they creep up on you rather than jump out.

It’s a haunting story, one that will stay with you long after you finish the book. Even after I’d completed it and moved on to write my review, I couldn’t help but feel as if something was watching me too.

“Slender Man,” written by an anonymous author, will be available on Oct. 23 in trade paperback and will also publish in ebook and digital audio format.

Thank you to Edelweiss and the Harper Voyager publicity team for allowing me a chance to read an advanced copy of this book!

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Are you a Slender Man fan? Do you like that he is getting more media focus now? What about him scares you, or doesn’t scare you? Let us know in the comments!

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