Tom Johnstone's How I Learned The Truth About Krampus was published by Eibonvale Press in December 2017.

Information about Tom Johnstone:

Tom Johnstone writes horror stories.

He is the co-editor of Horror Uncut: Tales of Social Insecurity and Economic Unease (co-edited with Joel Lane).

Click here to visit his official website.

Information about How I Learned The Truth About Krampus:

Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure of legend with a classic half-goat half-demonic appearance. The night of the 5th December is Krampusnacht, when this hairy devil appears on the streets – on his own or accompanying St. Nicholas, but always carrying a bundle of birch twigs ready to punish those who have misbehaved. At least, that’s how the folk-festivals that take place across Europe go. The truth may be stranger still. This is a sharp and intelligently written horror story that delves deep into seasonal mythology and folk legend. An atmospheric and chilling tale of the dark side of the winter season.

REVIEW: HOW I LEARNED THE TRUTH ABOUT KRAMPUS BY TOM JOHNSTONE

Tom Johnstone's How I Learned The Truth About Krampus is the third chapbook in the Eibonvale Chapbook Line.

How I Learned The Truth About Krampus is a chilling and unsettling tale for winter nights when the light is fading and everything is covered in snow. It's an excellent and atmospheric horror tale that gradually turns into a creepy reading experience in the vein of classic weird tales.

Everybody has heard of Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) and knows who he is, because he has become the iconic personification of Christmastime, but Krampus is a little less known figure (especially outside Europe). Krampus is a much darker figure, because he is the dark shadow of Saint Nicholas, the half-demonic and horned creature that wields a bundle of sticks to punish naughty and misbehaving children. Krampus is described as "half-goat, half-demon" in Central European folklore and is theorised to predate Christianity.

How I Learned The Truth About Krampus tells of Daniel Fletcher who writes a long letter to his wife, Bella. In this letter, Daniel tells of his insecurities concerning their relationship and what happened to him when he went abroad and tried to meet an academic who wrote a discredited paper mentioning that Krampus may exist and could be a missing species, Homo Saturnalius, which exists in the mountains like the Abominable Snowman.

Daniel has many things on his mind, because he is worried about the disappearance of Zac, their son. Zac went missing from a locked cottage without explanation (footprints can't be found anywhere in the snow and the kidnapper didn't use a car). The police thinks that Daniel may be responsible for the boy's disappearance and may have burned him in the wood-burning stove to get rid of the body.

Because this story has quite a lot of psychological depth and a well-created backstory, I won't go into details about the happenings in fear of writing major spoilers, but I can mention that this story will linger on your mind. It's an unsettling account of events that are packed with just the right amount of doubt, emotion, fear and uncertainty.

What makes this horror story works well is the author's way of creating a sense of uncertainty and disquiet that seeps out of the story. The author makes the reader question many things: Is Daniel a reliable narrator? Is he really telling the truth or is he trying to hide something? Is he insane or teetering on the edge of insanity? Has he committed a murder? Does Krampus truly exist or is he just a figure out of folklore?

Tom Johnstone's How I Learned The Truth About Krampus is a satisfyingly creepy story with dark undercurrents for the wintertime. It's a modern yet classic tale of folk horror, the roots of which can be found in weird fiction. It has a distinct touch of weirdness to it that will captivate readers.

Highly recommended!

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