Good horror is hard to come by—very likely because I don’t follow the genre as closely as I should. I love horror with a supernatural twist, which is why Stephen King has always been one of my favorites. With limited reading time, Stephen King’s bi-annual offerings have kept me fairly occupied, satisfying my “horror” craving. I guess I’ll need to make more time. David Jacob Knights first entry into the horror genre instantly earns him a place on my “to read” list. Check out my review of The Pen Name.
“The Pen Name takes the age old premise of the Faustian Bargain and fashions a unique, utterly horrifying contemporary tale. A devilish blend of psychological thriller and supernatural horror—this one will keep you turning the pages long into the night.
Meet Ben, a struggling writer on the verge of failure. Reality, both financial and family-related, is one step away from crushing his lifelong dream. Armed with his self-published novel, The Mark, Ben takes a chance on a book convention, ordering hundreds of copies of his novel. The books never arrive, crushing his hopes even further. The single bright spot of his day is a chance encounter with Jack Fleischer, New York Times bestselling author, who happens upon Ben at the convention. Fleischer has somehow procured a copy of Ben’s book and asks him to sign it. Ben’s career is about to take off—in a direction he never anticipated.
Knight captures the essence of Ben’s character. His hopes, dreams, frustrations and fears—all play a significant role is the terrifying suspense that unfolds after the “deal of a lifetime” is waved in front of him. The particulars of the deal are sketchy at best, the contract is several hundred pages long, and the Fleischer’s literary agent is impatient. Das Verlag Publishing needs an answer right away! Within the span of minutes, Ben has to make a choice. The rest is white-knucked ride through psychological hell, masterfully twisted and turned the moment you get comfortable.
Das Verlag is a force to be reckoned with, watching his every move—and if Ben violates the terms of his agreement, terrible consequences lie ahead. The problem is that Ben doesn’t have a copy of the agreement, and all efforts to secure one after signing it have failed. When his publisher’s requests start to cross the line of sanity, Ben is catapulted into a life or death struggle to uncover the shocking truth about his contract with Das Verlag.
The supernatural element is present, but never overdone. The scenes inside Das Verlag publishing are awesome…a skyscraper in the middle of the cornfields of Pennsylvania, reachable by taking an unmarked highway tunnel that doesn’t appear on any map. You have to take the trip with Ben to see it. The devil is in the details, and Das Verlag doesn’t disappoint.
I look forward to future offerings by Mr. Knight.”