Penpal is a book I’m pretty sure I came across while getting sucked into a Wikipedia black hole. The story started out as a CreepyPasta/Reddit thing but then was collected into an actual book. Here’s a little info about the story:
In Penpal, a man investigates the seemingly unrelated bizarre, tragic, and horrific occurrences of his childhood in an attempt to finally understand them. Beginning with only fragments of his earliest years, you’ll follow the narrator as he discovers that these strange and horrible events are actually part of a single terrifying story that has shaped the entirety of his life and the lives of those around him. If you’ve ever stayed in the woods just a little too long after dark, if you’ve ever had the feeling that someone or something was trying to hurt you, if you remember the first friend you ever made and how strong that bond was, then Penpal is a story that you won’t soon forget, despite how you might try.
The story took a bit to find its legs but by the end I was hooked. It made me think of how your life can affect those around you without you even knowing it. If we all did one little thing differently, what would that outcome be? Would we be the same people? Would we know the same people? The author did a fantastic job of bringing creepy woods to life. There’s just something about getting lost in the woods that brings the fear. Everything looks the same. You start to hear weird noises. You have no idea which way is out. I think another aspect of life it touched on in a good way was friendship. When we’re kids we think every friend we make is going to last forever, but in most cases that’s not how it works. And there’s not anything wrong with that. People change. People move. Things happen. It’s not always the fault of someone, it’s just the way life goes.
While we only meet the thing that goes bump in the night at the end of the book, his presence is felt the entire novel. He’s always there. Here’s always lurking. But I wish we knew more about him. Why did he pick this kid? Who was he? Did he have other victims? Instead of following the main focus of his obsession when the family moved, he went after the best friend. Why after all the time and effort he put into stalking this child did he move on easily? Honestly, this is probably the true crime, “I watch too much Criminal Minds” part of my brain talking. But I just can’t imagine he wouldn’t have at least tried to follow the family when they moved. I think a companion book that followed his point of view would be amazing.
In the end, I was creeped out and pretty sure I won’t be going into the woods anytime soon. Have you heard of this story before?