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Penpal Paperback – July 11, 2012

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From the Back Cover

In an attempt to make sense of his own mysterious and unsettling childhood memories, a man begins to reconstruct his past. As the games and adventures of his youth become engulfed by a larger story, he finds that it forms a tapestry of unbelievable horror that he never could have expected.

Each chapter completes a different piece of the puzzle for both you and the narrator, and by the end of it all, you will wish that you could forget what he never knew.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: 1000Vultures; 1St Edition edition (July 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098554550X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985545505
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (779 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dathan Auerbach was born in the southern U.S. and has lived there for most of his life. In 2011, he began posting a series of stories to a forum dedicated to horror. After a KickStarter that raised over 1000% of its goal, he was able to release the revised and expanded versions of his story as the novel "Penpal."

For more information, visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

219 of 235 people found the following review helpful By PanDi on August 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read it on Reddit, and it just captured my attention to the point where I forgot my surroundings and it was as if I had become part of the strory itself. I was unable to turn away, I needed to know more and once I did.... it was as if the whole world just shattered.
There is a quote "That moment when you finish a book, look around, and realize that everyone is just carrying on with their lives as though you didn't just experience emotional trauma at the hands of a paperback." That is ecactly how I felt when I read this, it's such amazing story telling.
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115 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Annie on August 15, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I first read this on Reddit, I was completely blown away and very creeped out by this short-story online series. And now that it has turned into a novel, I can't wait to read it over and over again. Dathan, you are a very talented writer and we are all so happy that you really did turn this into a novel.

This is definitely a must read for all, just be prepared to have nightmares afterwards ;)
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106 of 124 people found the following review helpful By S. G. F. Williamson on August 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this story originally on reddit's section for "creepypasta", or scary stories written (usually anonymously) by internet users and posted publicly to read. It had first been published in parts corresponding to the chapters laid out in this book. When the author announced that he would be selling a hard copy of the story with additional material, I was ecstatic. In its original form, Penpal was one of the most unique and exciting horror stories I had read to date, accounting for both "amateur" and "professional" work. I was really impressed honestly and was thrilled to have a chance to keep the story in my permanent collection.

However, Auerbach's expanded edition may succeed in building upon the original work in word count, but his often rambling and incidental additions to the text actually diminishes the story overall. I found myself dragging through the work during sections that had originally captivated my attention online, and while I appreciated the honesty of the narrator's voice, Auerbach's writing skills are simply not strong enough to hold up under the pressure of sustaining the reader's attention during prolonged periods of relative inactivity for the main character.

The underlying plot is incredibly strong, the tension building and suspense is strong (but, I hate to say it again, much stronger in the original text) but the writing is actually fairly average. I actually found that the additions to the text showcased Auerbach's iffy writing ability and drew the reader's attention away from his strong points -- the aforementioned plotting ability and ability to shock and sustain the reader's interest. A sparser writing style really helped him and made him seem like a much stronger writer than he may actually be.
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58 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Nickolas X. P. Sharps VINE VOICE on November 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
REVIEW SUMMARY: A thoroughly creep debut novel that is sure to stick with you long after finishing.

MY RATING: 4 Stars

PROS: Uneasy, disturbing, psychological, traumatic, and paranoid-inducing.

CONS: Chronologically confusing, abrupt ending.

BOTTOM LINE: Auerbach took something with childish innocence and twisted into a haunting tale of obsession. I look forward watching Auerbach improve with future works that are bound to give me nightmares.

I love the horror film genre but I don't have a high opinion of it. My generation's horror films tend to be knock-offs of popular Asian movies or torture porn. I've never found slashers particularly scary, and as such I don't view the previous generation's iconic villains (Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, or Freddy Krueger) with much respect. I find the best horror to be the low-key, the mundane, and the psychological. For this reason I'm a big fan of The Blair Witch Project and I only wish I could have seen it in theaters when it was believed to be a true story. What brilliant marketing that was. The point of all this is that despite my infatuation with the genre I tend to avoid novels fitting under this category. It's one thing to spend an hour and a half laughing as college kids get hacked to pieces due to their own stupidity on the big screen. It's another thing to dedicate several hours to reading about it.

Penpal was recommended to me by Amazon. Given the short nature of the story (252 pages) and the multitudes of praise (123 reviews at the moment and a five-star rating) I decided it was a risk I was willing to take. Apparently Penpal was written on Reddit as a series of short stories and then compiled into novel format after a super successful Kickstarter campaign.
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44 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Kristin on August 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
I started reading this book in bed one night, thinking I would read for 30 minutes and then go to sleep. Around midnight I finally made myself put the book down. Around 1 am I made my husband go downstairs with a baseball bat to make sure there wasn't anyone down there. Without giving too much away, I would have to say that this is one of those stories that sticks with you. I just couldn't stop thinking about it. For days after finishing I would have moments of remembering key points followed by a new revelation. I recommended it to my mom and received a voicemail two days later saying only "I finished the book, call me so we can talk about it." She too was still putting the pieces together in her mind long after finishing (it is a pretty fast read). So, if you like mystery and creepy suspense, I highly recommend this book. One warning, you may never want to let your children leave your house again.
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