Krengel & the Krampusz by M.C. Norris ~ Blog Tour: #Review & #Giveaway

Hey guys, welcome to my stop on the Krengel & the Krampusz Blog Tour hosted by Fire and Ice Book Tours! Click here to follow along with the tour schedule. 

Title: Krengel & the Krampusz
Author: M.C. Norris
Publication date: November 1st 2014
Publisher: Severed Press 
Genre: Horror, Dark Fantasy
Source: Copy for review

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

The epic origin of a beloved holiday icon unfolds, as nine-year-old Klaas Krengel flees plague-ravaged Germania on a swashbuckling adventure across Medieval Europe to the remote ends of the earth, where he finds himself pitted against a gruesome host of adversaries, all resurrected from old Austrian lore. A bit of a spoiled brat, Krengel's only friend is an insidious counterpart called the Krampusz, a blue-furred monster who suffers from a pronounced hoarding disorder.

Vexed by his half-brother's lifelong privilege and pampering, the Krampusz enjoys nothing more than imperiling the boy through calculated misdirection, ultimately trapping him in the bottomless depths of the enchanted "Sack of Shadows." Therein, a fantastic realm of weird and warring races demands a showdown between Krengel and its tyrannical ruler, a horrendous witch who alone holds a key to the connection between Krengel and the Krampusz. 

Every bell in Bari had a unique tone and timing. Each was synchronized to the timing of a specific, daily event. The toll of a bell would prompt a skyward glance from anyone within earshot, to make a quick check of the sun’s position. The bells were so intimately linked to the passage of time that on the rare occasions when every bell in the city tolled at once, the experience rattled a Baresi to his very soul, stilled him in his tracks, for time itself unraveled and was strewn to confetti. The joyous crash of sound reverberated through the seaport’s writhing arteries to flush pigeons in dappled flocks that flashed in the sky like schools of minnows.
At midday on May ninth, the first day of the annual Festival of the Translation of the Holy Relics, Bari came alive with clanging bells. Starlings gushed from the clerestory windows around the pealing bell tower at Basilica di San Nicola, the final resting place of Bari’s patron saint. It was an imposing fortification, a somber hulk of ancient masonry that loomed darkly over the peninsula with its back to the Adriatic Sea. With its cruciform mass shouldered between Romanesque towers, it better resembled an English castle than an ordinary place of worship. And at times, it had served as such.
Across the bustling piazza from the seaward dormitories, a hooded figure emerged from the basilica’s Lion’s Portal. The brown fabric of his Dominican robes flapped in the briny wind, throwing back his hood as he skulked beneath the engraved names of those famous sailors who rescued Saint Nicholas from Myra, five hundred years ago. He jerked the hood back over his naked head and turned to face the wall. Head bowed as though in prayer, he reached into the sleeve of his tunic, and withdrew a steely dagger.
Cast upon the spike of shimmering steel, was a leering distortion of his broad face and blazing eyes. He lowered and tilted his chin, trailing his fingertips over his newly shaved scalp. It was another of the Krampusz’s bright ideas. Krengel smiled. He looked funny bald, a bit like Friar Otto.
In five months, he’d grown in height and width. Though they might’ve starved a passive child with their severe Dominican diet of broth and rye, what were Krengel’s lifelong failings, but symptoms of his indomitable will to have while others around him had not. Greed ran strong in both sides of his family. And it was no small irony that Krengel, now a custodian of the relics of a saint canonized for profound acts of generosity, had honed his naturally greedy edge to a perfect tool for survival. Since Christmas Eve in Rome, he’d grown meaner, stronger, and more formidable. Daily acts of theft and trickery against the hardened peasants of a foreign land had honed Krengel, right beneath the noses of his Dominican handlers, into perhaps the most dogged urchin in all of Bari.
Krengel lifted his tunic, glanced around the crowded piazza, and then sheathed the dagger back into a tight fold in his braies. He hitched up his secret contraption. The rope was itchy about his waist, and the weight of the invention had begun to chaff his flesh. The dangling wood blocks clonked between his knees. Should’ve wrapped them in cloth to quiet their knocking. Too late for any of that, now. This was the big day. Around front of the basilica, cartwheels rumbled against the pavers as guests and dignitaries continued to arrive.
He’d not yet spotted Cardinal Moretti, rumored still unfit to attend this evening’s festivities, deathly ill as he’d been. Moretti posed him little threat in his weakened condition, but he was indeed the one person in all of Italy who could possibly spoil everything by summoning for him at the critical hour. Thus, the first phase of Krengel’s plan for May ninth was simply to avoid Moretti at all costs, to meld into the visiting crowds and simply lay low until sundown.
What in Heaven do you think you’re doing, back here?”
Krengel spun to find the rector glowering out at him through the Lion’s Portal. He seized Krengel by an ear and marched him along the wall toward the main entrance of the basilica. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you! Your benefactor has arrived!” The rector lifted him by his ear and flipped back his hood. “You’ve shaved your head. What is this?”
I had lice?”
Shush it!”
The rector harried him to the main portal, where Cardinal Moretti was being lifted from his wagon in a sort of birthing position by a host of able-bodied Dominicans. The friars set him gently upon his unstable feet. He swayed weightlessly in the bullying wind, as though might at any moment be sucked off the earth and flung through the heavens. He lolled back his head and peered at the ecclesiastical assembly from beneath his fallen eyelids. The purplish growth in his lower jaw had swelled to the size of an onion, forcing his tongue to protrude like a newly hatched chick. He attempted to speak, but his lips produced only bubbles.
Krengel’s survival for five months in the favored hunting grounds of this predator was owed mostly to a bout of poor health that robbed Moretti of all but an infant’s strength, slackening the musculature of his face, not a day after Miso del Gallo. As a result, Krengel hadn’t suffered sight of the awful man since Christmas Eve, which was fortunate, but rumor held that Moretti’s health was steadily improving. So said the Dominicans anyway, who’d just this morning doted over Moretti’s latest accomplishment of peeling and devouring a boiled egg all by himself.
A breeze kicked up and snatched the mitre right off Moretti’s head, tumbling and spinning it down the street. But the friars supporting the feeble body of their guest could only look on in despair as they goaded him forward, one cautious step at a time. A silvery thread of slobber whipped from Moretti’s lip and bowed like a harp in the wind. Snowy wisps of hair all writhing on scabrous pedestals, Moretti looked for all the earth to be some deranged and ancient warlock, routed from his alpine rookery.
As the trio approached, Krengel bent his knees until he felt those wood blocks beneath his tunic touch the ground. He then stepped atop them and rose, oh so slowly, to his tiptoes, causing the special knot from which they were suspended to unwind. Through the fabric of his robe, he gathered the reigns of his makeshift stilts. Those milling around him were so transfixed by the precarious transfer of Cardinal Moretti that none seemed to notice that Klaas Krengel had suddenly sprouted a foot in height, looking quite enough like an adult friar, with his broad shoulders and shaved head, to pass before the myopic eyes of the monster.
Moretti made some unintelligible grunt as they led him past Krengel, swinging his disheveled head. Yellowed fingernails splayed as he reached for the boy, but groped naught but thin air. Those rattling claws sliced past his face without touching, only to rasp against the doorpost as they pulled Moretti inside.
Safe. Just as the Krampusz had promised.
So many friars were about for the Festival of the Translation of the Holy Relics, tending to all the dignitaries being housed in the monastic dormitories that a hooded man-boy on stilts could walk freely through the piazza, disturbing only a few pigeons. The first phase of his great caper was complete. Krengel grinned at the dull impact of his clopping stilts upon the pavers. By nightfall, he’d be comfortably seated aboard a ship destined for the Habsburg Netherlands, his mother’s homeland, where not even the Holy Roman Empire could touch him. But first, he needed a hostage. And not just any would do. His hostage was to be a man more celebrated in Bari than both Christ and Pope Alexander VI combined, a man with the power to lift an orphan right out of Bari.

Not only did the cover for Krengel and the Krampusz draw me in, but the synopsis was deliciously intriguing. I love it when Christmas and horror are mixed together, and the results of the mixture in this novel inspire chills comparable to being stranded out in a blizzard. 

The language Norris uses to tell this story of Krengel and the Krampusz was mesmerizing, and though it took me time in the beginning to get into the rhythm, I couldn't imagine the book being written any other way. His rich and vivid descriptions stand out in my mind, and I reread some parts of the story because I found myself thinking, did that really just happen?? And yes, yes, it did.

The book begins, and Krengel is shown to be a young boy who's spoiled, sheltered, and an all-around brat. Not how we picture Santa to be, right? There's also the Krampusz, who's demon-like and somehow co-exists with Krengel as though they share a body but have two separate minds. Different versions of Krengel's birth have been told. Some say Krengel had a twin whom his mother killed. Others say Krengel strangled his twin in utero. Still others say Krengel's twin was born deformed. None of these versions are happy as you can see.   

When Krengel throws a fit to be included in an all-boy traveling choir led by a monk, his father basically pushes his son into the monk's care. With that one decision, the novel really starts and horrific events soon unravel. Krengel quickly finds out the other boys in the choir hate him, and just one of the reasons being that he can't sing at all.

In telling this dark tale, Norris engages all five of your senses, and you thoroughly feel like you're also living through the horror of unimaginable events unfolding before you. There were times I cringed and squirmed and felt relieved I did not live in this world he has created. I highly recommend Krengel & the Krampusz to every horror fan  out there - this novel is an imaginative scare fest with intelligent and terror invoking writing. Norris is a master of the skill needed to re-imagining our beloved Santa Claus into the stuff of hellish nightmares. This is Christmas horror at its finest.    
My Rating:

M.C. Norris is an Active HWA member, whose first four novels, all published by Severed Press, are slated for release in fall of 2014: Deep Devotion (9/1/14), Krengel & the Krampusz (11/1/14), The Dread Owba Coo-Coo (11/15/14), and Nod (TBA). His nineteen short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines and e-zines including: Withersin, Wrong World DVD, Brainharvest Magazine, Pseudopod, Malicious Deviance, and Dead Bait. M.C. Norris also won 5th in Chizine/Leisure Books 13th Annual Short Story Contest


  1. Hey Cute...
    I love your Blog.... Congrats. :D
    I want to read the books in english But i have not :(

    I awalys in love in blogs.

    kiss and hug.

    I wait to u ask me .
    ( )

    1. Thanks so much! I'm following you back. :)

  2. I know I'll love this if you did. Been eyeing it for a bit. I guess Santa has one more book to bring me!
    Thanks for the awesome review.

    1. That cover just really drew me in! And I'm really happy to hear you say that - I think we have a lot of common tastes in books. Santa's gonna be busy for all of us bookworms, lol. Thank you, Laura! :)

  3. Very interesting review starting with "Santa" as a young boy.Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. It's not a happy childhood like we all thought Santa had, lol. Kinda a creepy one. Thanks for visiting! :)

  4. I'm not so sure I'd enjoy Christmas and horror mixed together, Jennifer, and that cover is positively chilling! If I decide to read this one, I think I'll have to do it once the holiday is over :)
    Great review!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. That would be a good idea if you aren't sure about it. Yes, that cover!! It's freaky! Thank you, Lexxie! :)

  5. Christmas and HORROR?!? Well, you have me intrigued anyway. I'm interested in this one because you mentioned the language Norris uses to convey the story...I love words...and that he's written in a way that engages all the senses? That has me shuddering already. Yeah, not how I pictured Santa Claus. :) Great review, Jennifer. I'm glad you enjoyed this so much.

    I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. Are y'all under snow??? We've barely had any so far. But it's been cold. I know you're giddy over getting ready for Christmas. Hopefully we'll get our tree up this weekend. :) Have a great day!! *hugs*

    1. It isn't something you see everyday that's for sure. This book is making me want to write a book mixing the two, lol. It's something I don't think I would've thought to do. At first I must admit I was like, "Whoa, this is an awful lot of description," but I realized it had a purpose and that purpose made me feel like I was really there experiencing everything along with the characters, which made it even more chilling. Thank you, Brandee!! :)

      It's snowed here a few times but only covered the ground once so far. We've mostly had flurries here and there. Thanksgiving was great. I love turkey!! It's been especially cold this week. I'm SO excited for Christmas!! I just got my niece a singing Elsa doll and her dress lights up, and I can't wait until she opens it. I'm gonna be the best aunt ever, lol! We haven't started shopping for our kids yet. We'll be going this weekend. They both just had birthdays, so we only now have the funds to help out Santa. ;) We put our tree up the weekend of Thanksgiving, which is a tiny bit earlier than we usually do, but I felt bad about not decorating for Halloween this year. Isn't that weird that I didn't?? Robyn was shocked, lol. *hugs* Brandee! :)


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