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Darkest Hours

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In the bleak landscape of Darkest Hours, people make decisions that lead them into extreme scenarios – sometimes bizarre, often horrific, always unexpected. Between this book’s covers you will find academics in distress; monsters abused by people; people terrorized by demons; ghostly reminiscences; resurrected trauma; and occult filmmaking. Ranging from satirical to dreadful, these stories share a distinct voice: urgent, sardonic, brutal, but always empathetic.

"In these sharply compelling stories Mike Thorn intertwines the bizarre and the quotidian to form seamless chronicles of personal disaster. The protagonist may not know the precise nature of the catastrophe heading his way, but you get the feeling he's been anticipating something bad—and inexorable—for a long time. This rueful wisdom, a product of youthful disappointment and early trauma, informs each tale as it winds its way toward a natural yet surprising conclusion. The element of surprise is a tribute to Thorn's ingenuity; the assuredness of his prose is due to his extensive knowledge of the horror genre. Perfectly paced from the first sentence, these stories grab you by the collar with the urgency of mortal danger. Highly recommended."
-- S.P. Miskowski, author of Strange is the Night

"Everyone has their own mythology. Most people, however, don’t recognize it as such. Mike Thorn gets it. His fiction seems to blur distinctions between horror and noir, between science fiction and fantasy. Between dream and reality. They’re all here. Demons. Monsters. Big ones, little ones. (Sometimes the things done to them are worse than the things they do.) When you first encounter Thorn’s writing, a number of qualities impress themselves: the macabre intelligence (brutal really), the chilling wit, the naturalness of the dialogue. Plus there’s the skill and style of the prose. It may all play out like a nightmare, but a terrible logic remains inherent. His characters make bad choices, and it’s those decisions that bring on calamity. At once, the reader recognizes this. Mike Thorn is inescapable, and he understands that most terrifying variety of monsters, the hidden ones, the inner ones. They’re on display here. Savor the experience."
-- Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines and Willy

"Darkest Hours is for readers wishing to take a thrilling walk on the dark side. Mike Thorn has delivered a promising debut with this collection showing off his commitment to stories of nuance, heart, and of course… darkness."
-- Daniel Braum, author of The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales

"I've long been a fan of authors who can create a style and allow it to be as important as the story itself. Mike Thorn is a prime example of an author who builds off the baseline mechanics of prose on his own terms, and in the process writes witty and honest, dark literary stories, as is the case with Darkest Hours. Mike Thorn's debut story collection is not to be missed by those who enjoy an academic intellect with a potent flair for fiction."
-- Dustin LaValley, author of A Soundless Dawn

"Fast, fun and full of fear, Darkest Hours turns on a dime from a laugh to a scream. Terrifying and sly, Mike Thorn writes with refreshing originality and hides fangs behind a smile."
-- John C. Foster, author of Mister White

252 pages, Paperback

First published September 25, 2021

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About the author

Mike Thorn

23 books220 followers
Mike Thorn is the author of Shelter for the Damned, Darkest Hours, and Peel Back and See. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, and Tales to Terrify. His essays and articles have been published in American Twilight: The Cinema of Tobe Hooper (University of Texas Press), Beyond Empowertainment: Exploring Feminist Horror (Seventh Row), MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and elsewhere.

Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 88 reviews
Profile Image for Char.
1,638 reviews1,488 followers
July 18, 2018
On top of having this super cool cover, within these pages I discovered some of the best short, dark fiction I've read in a long while! Let's talk about it, shall we?

When I was young and couldn't afford bookstores, I often went to the library. (I still do, actually, because I love them, not because I have to.) I developed a love of horror back then, but our library's collection consisted of about two shelves. Once I read those, I started reading all of their anthologies and collections, in the hopes of finding new authors. In this way, I discovered Richard Matheson, Steve Rasnic Tem, Dennis Etchison, Ray Bradbury and other writers that I still love to this day. DARKEST HOURS brought me back to that time of discovery-horror and dark fiction in all of its glorious, different forms. Reading this collection made me feel like a kid again.

This volume begins with the story HAIR. I knew right then that this book was going to be a force to be reckoned with. Coming unapologetically out of left field, Thorn hits you with this tale of unstoppable hair and then moves on to something out of right field, just to keep you off balance.

THE AUTEUR It's important to know who you're talking to when you ask for horror recommendations from people. You may find out a little too much about them otherwise, but by then it might be too late. Hair plays a role in this story too. (P.S. Always feel free to ask me for horror recs. You're safe with me. But employees from Verne's Video? Watch out for them!)

CHOO CHOO This story felt like it came out of one of those early collections that I loved so much. With an ending so unexpected that it felt like I got hit by a train, this tale made me laugh out loud with glee.

LONG MAN I never thought anything could compete against the Long Walker in my imagination. (Thank you to Nick Cutter's Little Heaven for that.) But now, now we have Long Man. He's even scarier-trust me on this.

ECONOMY THESE DAYS Here again is another story, completely different, completely unlike any other story here. How much physical abuse would you be willing to take to pay your bills? What would that abusive job look like? Of what would a promotion consist? This tale proposes answers to all of those things and oddly, I don't think it's that far out of the realm of possibility.

SABBATICAL If I hadn't felt the spirit of Stephen King in this story, the main character's names of Thad and Gage would've put me in mind of him anyway. I cannot describe this story, but it was just so much fun it made me want to do some kind of dance-the dance of my dark fiction people. The dance is delightful and it's only brought on by the best and most twisted of tales. This is one of them.

"Stars will collapse and new lights will prick through the sky, and screaming will not help."

SCHLUTER The most disturbing story I've ever read was written by Michael Blumlein who is a doctor. (Trust me when I say I have read some VERY disturbing stories.) I found it disturbing because in some universe it could happen. SCHLUTER has now taken THE MOST DISTURBING STORY EVER medal. What that medal would look like, I don't want to know, but Mike Thorn owns it. Take this one little harmless sentence for instance:

His mind screamed, but his sutured lips twitched noiselessly.

If that sentence doesn't bother you, okay then, to each his own. However, if that sentence makes you want to run out and buy this book, heed your feelings, man! You won't be disappointed.

There are a few themes that became apparent throughout this book, academia being the one that surprised me the most, but also: hair. I don't remember ever reading a collection where simple hair is used in such a menacing, disgusting, or just mentioned in passing but still in a creepy-as-hell- kind of way.

Okay then-to sum up: disturbing tales? Check! A wide-ranging variety of stories? Check! Extremely well written? Check! It almost seems like this collection was written with me in mind-it was so perfect for me that I don't even know what else to say. Well, other than this: I think Mike Thorn is an author to watch. I think he's going to do great things in the world of horror and dark fiction, and I for one, will be there to watch it. Will you?

My highest recommendation. Period. Get a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Darkest-Hours-...

*I was provided an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*
Profile Image for Janie.
1,062 reviews
January 3, 2018
Mike Thorn's debut collection impressed me. The author has the ability to summon dread from the physical realm and from psychological and otherworldly sources. This is clever work that runs the gamut from body horror to a slimy green blob that ingests a scholar and his books, coaxing the man to explain the written material. The stories are indeed dark, but not without hints of humor and irony. Many of the circumstances induce an inescapable feeling of helplessness, and there are several instances that will be impossible for me to forget. If you like your horror spiced with intelligence and imagination, this book is a must read.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,662 reviews5,143 followers
June 17, 2021
Haunting, haunting, haunting, and good God, I don't know why this trauma belongs to me.

There's something that many lovers of horror literature have come to accept, which is the fact that a lot of horror authors aren't looking to promote any sort of deeper message or morals—they're simply putting out a spooky story and hoping it sticks, and there's nothing wrong with that. Every now and then, though, you find a horror author who can disarm and unsettle you while telling these incredibly meaningful, important stories, and those are the ones that tend to stick with me. Mike Thorn? He's one of those authors.

Darkest Hours is a deeply disturbing collection that shifts between shocking moments of outright terror and examining the worst parts of the human psyche, reminding us that we're often surrounded by the scariest monsters of all. He doesn't pull any punches, but his writing doesn't rely on only scares and chills—Mike's got such a witty and fluid style that I would happily reach for again and again.

I didn't give any story in the collection less than 3 stars, but most of them were far better than that, with these as my favorites:

→ Hair: This is one of the most disgusting and AMAZING short stories I've ever read. What a way to kick off a collection!
→ Long Man: The descriptions in some of these scenes were downright nauseating (in the best way), and that ending? Perfect.
��� Sabbatical: This story was the perfect example of the way Mike has this way of setting the stage and then spinning the whole thing on its head and taking you completely off-guard.
→ Lucio Schluter: I had a slight, sinking suspicion about the ending on this one, and it was exactly as gruesome and incredible as I thought it would be. Talk about terrifying.

Altogether, I'm so glad I got the chance to read Darkest Hours and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for future releases from Mike Thorn. I highly recommend grabbing a copy of this one as soon as you can!

Thank you so much to Mike Thorn for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest thoughts!
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 24 books4,129 followers
May 24, 2018
Thank you to Mike Thorn for sending this collection to me in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Mindi for the buddy read! Even though she blew through it like overnight or something and we only talked about the first story, Ha!

That first story!! Whoa! What a way to start a collection. These short stories show the author's incredible range and versatility. Some of these stories will give you the heebie-jeebies, some will make you cringe, others are slow and methodical-psychological; still others are gross and feel like a campfire tale. One thing is the same: Originality.
I've never read anything like them! The author has a very wicked imagination. I also felt like Thorn is very much influenced by his passion for cinema. You can read my "activity" for play-by-play reactions to every story as I finished them but for this review, I'm just going to say that I very much enjoyed this collection and I am eager to read more by this talented voice in horror and dark fiction!
Profile Image for Leo Robertson.
Author 38 books436 followers
September 27, 2017
Dark, funny, entertaining, horrifying, clever, this book announces the arrival of a new frustratingly exceptional talent to the dark fiction scene ;) SO BUY
Profile Image for Mindi.
806 reviews269 followers
May 17, 2018
Holy Canadian Horror, Batman! First I read A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau, and now I've discovered Mike Thorn. Where have all these fantastic Canadian writers been hiding? I'm hooked.

This collection! My bestie Sadie and I have been buddy reading this one together and we both are so into it. Get ready for me to gush, because this collection is gory, gross-out, scary fun! I honestly don't think there is a single dud in the entire bunch, and that makes me so giddy. I love strong collections like this. Sincerely, I was up until 1am finishing this book last night. Every single time I picked it up I had trouble putting it down. Also, can we talk about that super rad cover? This book totally lives up to that cover and the concept that each story is a grainy story found on an old VHS tape.

Thorn starts Darkest Hours off super strong with the utterly disgusting story Hair. Do not eat while you read this story. It's so visceral and strange! I have a strong stomach, but this one got to me a little bit. The second story is called Mictian Diabolus, and this time Thorn switches from gross-out to pure scares. Again, I was immediately sucked into the story and fully invested. At this point I genuinely started to get excited about this collection.

I could literally do a write up for every story in the book, but I think you should approach this one the way I did. I knew absolutely nothing about it going in, and I think that really enhanced my experience. Pick this one up as soon as you can. You will not be disappointed.
Profile Image for Richard Martin.
219 reviews43 followers
June 7, 2021
This new and expanded version of his debut 2017 collection features a brand-new introduction by Mother Horror (Sadie Hartmann) as well as detailed story notes for each of the previous collections’ fiction offerings, with an additional seventeen non-fiction articles to round things out. There is a lot of diversity on offer here, with stories that include;

• A macabre childhood haunting that does not wish to be forgotten
• A booze-fuelled camping trip into nature, where nature does not wish to be disturbed
• A bold new artist whose creations have an especially unpleasant origin
• A down on his luck young man is given a lucrative opportunity at an innovative new firm, but with great pay comes greater personal suffering.
• An infamous local serial killer and a satanic ritual result in a particularly bad night for one group of teens.
• The ultimate transgressive horror movie. Viewer discretion is most certainly advised!

There truly is a story to suit every taste in Darkest Hours. There are overtly comedic tales (‘Mired, ‘Speaking of Ghosts’) alongside tales of body horror (‘Hair’), cosmic dread (‘A New Kind of Drug’) and good old fashioned scary stories (‘Choo Choo’). Thorn demonstrates an eclectic array of strengths, excelling at both shocking, entertaining and amusing in equal measures.

In the short story notes, Thorn cites a lot of influences (both literary, musical and cinematic) that inform his work, but Thomas Ligotti seems to be a name that crops up throughout. While ‘Darkest Hours’ covers a lot of the same themes (nihilism, anxiety, and the human condition) but Thorn’s work approaches them in a far more mainstream and accessible way. Still, I think this says a lot about the prevailing tone of his work, and there are stories here that scared (‘Long Man’, ‘Sabbatical) disturbed (‘The Auteur’, ‘Fear and Grace’) and disgusted (‘Fusion’) like few other collections have managed for me.

As a fan whose horror tastes also run to the movies as well as literature, I thoroughly enjoyed the various film-related articles that close out the collection. Focusing on the works of directors such as Tobe Hooper, Rob Zombie, John Carpenter, Wes Craven and Dario Argento, these various pieces offer a deep, often academic, dive into the themes and parallels present in some of your favourites horror movies and they make for interesting reading across the board.

Fans of Thorn, or people who read and enjoyed ‘Darkest Hours’ previously have more than enough additional material here to justify upgrading to this expanded edition, whether that be via the new addition of a wealth of insightful non-fiction articles, or the story notes that enhance the enjoyment of the stories that exist from the initial 2017 release. The stories themselves are worth the price of admission, and this plethora of extras is just a welcome bonus.

You can read more reviews of new and upcoming horror releases at https://www.myindiemuse.com/richard-m...
I also promote indie horror via Twitter and Instagram - @RickReadsHorror

Profile Image for Yvonne (The Coycaterpillar Reads).
686 reviews214 followers
September 8, 2021
The Darkest Hours is a locked box of secrets. Pandora’s box taunting you, willing you to release her. It’s the elephant in the room. You try to ignore the push and pull but it has a canny skill on breaking you. This is my second outing with Mike Thorn, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a frank and dark investigation into how humanity can break, how it can seem, well, not human. Stories that wouldn’t be out of place on Halloween, the dark night enveloping you, the words setting goosebumps astray through-out your body, the fear rocking back and forward like a Newton’s Cradle.

Darkest Hours has something from all sub-genres to enjoy. The diversity, the representation was fantastic.

The opening story, wow, the imagination of the author was in full display with a fantastical plot that didn’t hold back in its imagery and its vivid dialogue. This is the type of story that reminds you of why you got into horror short stories in the first place. Its short, sharp, like a death blow. It also displays the many ranges of emotion, something that other genres can struggle with. It was bloody and brutal, and I could feel the metallic taste in my mouth. These stories know how to draw blood. The stories were so perfectly constructed, the urgency was palpable. If you are planning to read this over the period of a few days forget it – this beast will consume and be consumed in hours.

A New Kind of Drug is a superb cosmic horror. This story felt like a drug. Even though this was a short story, the characterisation is superbly built, Mike Thorn utilises the short story format and not one word is wasted. It appears that he can turn his hand to any sub-genre and make it his own.
A Serial Killer that has a penchant for stripping the flesh from a body. I don’t know exactly why but this story felt very Jeepers Creepers and I was more than happy with that comparison. I found this story terrifying with its close parallels to everyday people. Are we ever truly safe? Can you trust anyone in your life? The screams, the violence, the imagery had my gut churning.
Thank you, Mr. Thorn, for renewing my love for the short story format.
Profile Image for Cameron Chaney.
Author 6 books1,839 followers
March 26, 2020
A big thanks to the author for sending me this collection in exchange for an honest review! Full video review to come...

Anthologies and short story collections have always been my favorite thing to read, especially when those books have a theme, some kind of common thread that needles the stories together. That's what I did with my own book and that's what Mike Thorn does with his. Darkest Hours is the debut from Mike Thorn, containing sixteen weird, wild tales of horror and the supernatural. While each story stands on its own, they all have similar themes of addiction, obsession, and an itching fear of the cosmic unknown.

Hair, the first story in this collection, is reason enough to read Darkest Hours. It tells the story of a man who is obsessed with eating hair. And yes, it is just as gross as it sounds. This story made me squirm and cringe, something that doesn't happen to me often. I can snicker through even the goriest of scenes, but the idea of eating hair...it's something you don't read about often, and the same can be said for the other stories in this book. Even though some don't live up to Hair in my opinion, each tale is completely original and unlike anything I've ever read. The Auteur is another favorite of mine, taking a nostalgic passion of horror films and video stores only to transform this love into something arcane and unsettling, avoiding all cliches.

While all of the stories exhibit this uniqueness, some didn't resonate with me as much, failing to make a lasting impression. This is the standard with short story collections as not all stories are going to appeal to the same person, but there is a silver lining in this: There is something here for everyone, especially if you like your tales dark, warped, and out of this world. For weird fiction aficionados, Darkest Hours is a must!

Overall, 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Cody | CodysBookshelf.
724 reviews211 followers
September 28, 2018
”Screaming doesn’t help. Whether you’re a young child yowling for candy or you’re among the hordes of slaughterhouse cattle swimming in their shit, whether you’re one of the uncountable many awaiting the machetes of genocide, or you’re chained up in the basement of a killer, it’s always the same. Stars will collapse and new lights will prick through the sky, and screaming will not help.”

OK, Mike Thorn has renewed my faith in the art of the short story. Not since reading Ray Bradbury’s collection The October Country in 2016 have I been so awed by the heights of an author’s imagination. The best horror story collections drill genuine, direct fear into the heart of their readers, while encouraging them to give into the fantastical. Many collections fail. Darkest Hours does not.

This collection is comprised of sixteen stories, at least twelve of which I full-on loved. The rest I liked. If I were to give each story a star rating, none would go below a four.

From the heartbreaking closer “Remembering Absence” to the wicked, rocking ‘80s throwback “Satanic Panic” to the ice-pick cold “Choo-Choo” to the obsessive and creeptastic “Hair” to the gut-wrenching “Economy These Days”, this is a collection filled to the brim with tales from an extraordinarily talented writer, one whose short stories rank with the best from Barker and King. My highest recommendation!

Thanks to the author for the free review copy. This review is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Plagued by Visions.
185 reviews477 followers
July 2, 2021
3 1/2⭐️
A more thorough review is coming to my YouTube channel, but overall this was a delightful love letter to the “metal band t-shirt” generation, with a sensible and grotesque treatment of a variety of topics plaguing aimless youth: drugs, peer pressure, the erratic and tragically passionate first pangs of love, and there’s even quite a bit of satirization and lampooning of pompous academia, which I quite enjoyed. Mike Thorn’s writing style is infatuated with viscera, liquids, and abnormal psychologies (Lovecraft, Ligotti, and King stood out as possible main inspirations), yet at times it feels bound and compact, and he never quite spends a lot of time on any given story (some stories felt too short even for a “short story”—does that make sense?), so, as with most collections, there were some definite misses. However, overall, the more I kindled to the world he was trying to portray through these varied threads, the more I enjoyed his sentimental, loving, and horrific explorations of eroding suburbia and wormy minds.
The supplemental pieces (author’s notes, nonfiction film criticism) I did not read as part of this review, because that was not the experience I was looking for out of a “short story collection,” and because the author’s thoughts and analyses on his own stories are secondary to me. However, in a good way, I’m happy they’re there for any instance in which I feel like paying them a visit! “Hair,” “A New Kind of Drug,” and “The Auteur” were delightful and ghastly highlights.
Profile Image for Emily.
1,265 reviews334 followers
December 10, 2018
"You invited horror into your life...Now it's your chance to really embrace it."

Darkest Hours is an amazing collection. There are stories that are spooky, funny, mysterious, absolutely disgusting, and so much more. I truly enjoyed reading this collection.

Darkest Hours opens with a story called Hair, and Mike Thorn kicks you in the face with an introduction to the disturbing shit that is about to come. It was a bold choice to put as the first one, and it totally worked.

My top 5 stories were Mictian Diabolus, The Auteur, Choo-Choo, Sabbatical, and Fusion. All 5 of these unsettled me in some way, and I loved it. I rated all of the stories in the book between 3-5⭐, so this is a good collection. There isn't a bad story here.

I hope that Mike Thorn has more coming for us - Darkest Hours was so much fun, and I'll be picking up whatever he does next. Thank you so much for sending me Darkest Hours, Mike!
Profile Image for Steve Stred.
Author 70 books459 followers
March 22, 2019
** Edited as Review is now live on Kendall Reviews! **

It’s funny sometimes how the world works. I picked up Darkest Hours in 2018, seeing a ton of praise for this collection. For 2019 I made it a priority to organize my TBR as I found I kept forgetting about, or skipping over books, simply because they weren’t front and centre every time I opened my Kindle. I made sure Darkest Hours was top of the heap for short story collections.

Then life gave me a funny occurrence. I got a notification on Facebook and looked to see what it was. It said Mike Thorn was interested in an event near you. That’s odd, I thought, why would he be interested in something near Edmonton? Well it turns out Mike leaves three hours south of me, in Calgary, AB. Even more hilarious is the fact that I lived in Calgary for almost two years. At the end of my time in Calgary was when I really made a push to start releasing my own stuff, and I wish I would have connected with him back then!

Darkest Hours is brutal. I mean that in the best way possible. The stories here range from cosmic horror to real horror and everything in between. I, myself, am a massive fan of heavy music and it was great seeing stories interjected with death and black metal imagery and references.

As for the stories themselves, I had a number of standouts.

Mike throws you directly into the deep end with the first story; Hair. We follow a record store owner who is obsessed with a deep desire to ingest hair. Things go downhill quickly.

Sabbatical was a great trip of a tail. Two college students head to a family members cabin to finish writing their dissertations. But something cosmic and horrendous might just be behind one of the guys writing ability.

The Long Man should become a full length. We all had fears as kids and seeing something grotesque in the mirror in your bedroom would be high up on that list. But finding out you weren’t the only one who sees it? Thorn brings it full circle.

Choo-choo was a great ride through King territory and not just because of the involvement of a train.

The Party was a great rip through the main character’s decent into depravity. Sure I take issue with him being named Steve, but my lawyers insist I have no legal recourse against Mike. I also don’t have any lawyers.

Mired was another great cosmic horror story, and The Auteur was a fun look into someone making their own extreme horror.

Those are just some of the amazing tales in there, but trust me when I say the other all are killer as well.

For a superb collection of fantastic tales, this was an easy 4.5/5
Profile Image for Stephanie (Books in the Freezer).
431 reviews1,101 followers
July 6, 2018
This was a great short story collection. There was a lot of variety in the kinds of short stories and types of horror that are explored. When it comes to favorites, there is no way I couldn't mention the story that opens up the collection, Hair. Let me just say, you'd be wise not to read that story while eating. Some other stories that I adored were: Mictian Diabolus, Fear and Grace, Satanic Panic, Fusion and Remembering Absence. I honestly didn't think there was a "dud" story in the collection.

I was sent an e-copy of this book by the author in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Marge Simon.
Author 144 books65 followers
February 15, 2018
Take a dollop of Michael A. Arnzen and Brian Evenson’s quirky styles, and add a pinch of Mark Twain, stir well and let bubble, and you have a sense of Mike Thorn’s stories. I hope you’ll have the same pleasure as I did reading his new concoction of weird dark tales. Among my favorites, “Hair” is outstanding, not only because of the unusual plot, but also because of the style. “Longman”, “Fusion” and “Remembering Absence” were also favorites.

From Remembering Absence: “Don’t ask me how long it’s been since I saw myself die,” When a story starts like this, you know you’re in for the ride. Thorn’s endings are always a special treat, consistent with captivating parting lines. Buy this collection. Thorn is a new voice for those who enjoy a quirky brand of horror.
Profile Image for Red Lace Reviews.
289 reviews59 followers
March 10, 2018
With monsters that hunger for flesh, ghosts that lie in wait, and brutality at the hands of humanity - this collection certainly has it all. Delving into the satirical, chilling and downright disgusting, this is a must read for those that like a bit of horror in their lives.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Mike Thorn for giving me the opportunity!

This anthology has sixteen individual stories, each offering varying degrees of horror in different forms; bizarro, quiet and psychological are just a few of the sub-genres that are incorporated. Chances are you'll find something that tickles your fancy within the wide spectrum that is Thorn's imagination, just as I did. I do, however, feel the need to mention the reoccurring themes that present themselves throughout the majority of the book. Despite each short being unrelated and diverse in form, there were certain factors that kept resurfacing; the heavy metal, the smoking (specifically marijuana and Camel cigarettes), and lastly, academia. It just didn't work for me all that much - instead of characters blending together, I would've preferred differentiating attributes.

I always find it difficult to review these type of books, for the sole reason that I feel there's so much to write - I can get carried away with my thoughts and write paragraph upon paragraph. For my own sanity I've decided to forgo a ten-page essay detailing each and every short, and instead highlight the the top three that I enjoyed the most.

A New Kind of Drug
This is the first story that really piqued my interest, primarily due to the fact I've never read anything quite like it before, and it caused me to think of how we, as a species, are awfully enticed by substances that alter the state of consciousness. It's said that we're always looking for the next big thing, the next high that will affect us in new and oftentimes dangerous ways. I liked how Thorn took that aspect, and spun something that didn't seem so far-fetched in regards to human cruelty. Whether the creature was a demon, an alien, or whatever else, I felt pity for it and thus viewed the people themselves as the monsters. The added possibility of there being another plane of existence only interested me further.

And maybe I was screaming too, I don't know, but I'm quite sure I would've done something to stop this awful spectacle if I'd had the time, or the will, or even just a modicum of bravery.

Economy These days
Clearly the ugliness of humanity's a personal favourite of mine; the type of horror that's closer to home and more real than any supernatural beast. This particular short reminded me of the film Hostel, with the concept that people pay money to hurt a stranger. The difference was, in this case, both parties acted upon a consensual basis, where rules and regulations were strictly set in place. I have no doubt that something like this exists today, and whilst I don't consider it terrifying in the traditional sense, it's immensely thought-provoking.

But in this moment, money seemed like some grotesque abstraction; these terrible means dwarfed the process of reaching agreeable ends.

Lucio Schluter
Yet another example of human savagery, yet in an entirely different manner. Appreciating art as much as I do, I couldn't help but feel fascinated by Schluter's work and the way in which Thorn truly captured its disturbing essence. To turn actual people into such ghastly pieces of craftsmanship, it's delightfully macabre. The artist himself was a character I favoured because of the unnerving, yet obvious way he felt strongly for his victims - perhaps even a sort of love for them.

To really look at one of Schluter's subjects was like seeing a reflection of yourself ten years from now, somehow locked in a stasis of fear and eternal nakedness.

Other honourable mentions are The Auteur, Long Man, Sabbatical and Fusion.

Of course, due to the differing of story-types, there were some I didn't care for, and some I outright disliked. With Mired, Fear and Grace, and Speaking of Ghosts, my attention considerably waned until I just wanted them to end as quickly as possible.

In conclusion - A well-written concoction of the dark and twisted. My interest fluctuated depending upon the concept, but it's clear that Thorn has talent. An author to keep an eye on, for sure.

© Red Lace 2018

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Profile Image for Dianne.
6,766 reviews589 followers
October 1, 2018
Prepare for the dark, the horrific and the purely bizarre before you enter the twisted world of Mike Thorn’s short story collection, DARKEST HOURS. Think you cannot be shocked, want to gag or cringe? Think again, because you are about to read something far different than ever before!

Mike Thorn doesn’t flinch at creating horror of epic proportions, or of grabbing his readers by the throat with his words. Dark, unique and filled with the minutest of details, this is not reading for the faint of heart or weak of stomach! Get ready to meet the demented, the demonic and the monstrous!

If twisted, gritty horror is your genre, DARKEST HOURS is your book!

I received a complimentary copy from Mike Thorn!

Publisher: Unnerving (November 21, 2017)
Publication Date: November 21, 2017
Genre: Dark Fiction | Horror
Print Length: 254 pages
Available from: Amazon
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for David's Book Reviews.
118 reviews20 followers
October 2, 2021
Once again another fantastic book by one of the new masters of horror, Mike Thorn. After reading his first novel, Shelter For The Damned, I was extremely excited to read this one, which is a short story collection. All these stories offer something different and unique but a few of them I didn't care much for. Mike's writing style is easy to read and this collection gives you the ability to dive strange into his mind. This also offers a bunch of essays written by Mike, about horror movies and directors. I would have liked to see a few ones about other horror authors, but it was still very interesting. If your a horror fan, books, movies or both, I would highly recommend this. Plus it's perfect to read this Halloween, while drinking a pumpkin spiced latte. So put down Stephen King and Clive Barker, and pick up Mike Thorns Darkest Hours. And as the author would say, "Stay Spooky!"🎃
Profile Image for Alex (The Bookubus).
367 reviews401 followers
July 12, 2019
3.5 stars

The stand out story for me was The Auteur which is about a horror fan who goes over to a co-workers place so she can show him some of her own horror films. Super dark and creepy and wonderful! I loved everything about it.

A few of my other favourites were: Hair, A New Kind of Drug, Fear and Grace, and Long Man. All excellently written and each had their own flavour of horror.

The rest of the collection was a mixture of some good and some that I didn't really care for (as is usually the case with short story collections). I rated each story individually and came out with an average rating of 3.5 out of 5, so overall a good collection and I would recommend it because the really good ones were fantastic!
Profile Image for Julie.
274 reviews123 followers
March 1, 2019
This was such a fantastic short story collection! It was dark, disturbing, creepy, psychological...honestly it was great, and has something for everyone! I look forward to seeing what Mike Thorn writes next!
Profile Image for Becca.
642 reviews59 followers
September 19, 2021
Thank you to Mike Thorn for providing me with an e-ARC of Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition in exchange for an honest review!

I struggle with short story collections; they tend to be very hit or miss & I just enjoy investing more time into one story. However, when Mike Thorn was offering review copies, I just had a feeling that I needed to check this one out & I am so glad I did. In fact, I’m now officially in the mood for short story collections so thank you, Mike.

While reading Darkest Hours, I made a list of titles with my rating for each story, and I am pleased to announce that each story received a 4 or 5-star rating. Mike Thorn did not miss in this collection. Each story was beyond amazing & all ranged in theme. We have some that are disgusting, some that are weird and force you to think, and some that are just a damn good time.

Even when a story in the collection seems like it’s not gonna be a favorite, the ending comes through & leaves me in complete awe. And, honestly, these are some of my favorite kind of stories; the ones that make you wait until the end to give you that pay-off & you’re just left in at amazement at how well it all came together. Mike Thorn has talent & Darkest Hours is here to prove it.

Stories I rated 5-stars:
– Hair
– Mictian Diabolus
– Party Time
– Long Man
– Satanic Panic

One thing I really enjoy is being able to get into an author’s head. I love learning how some stories came to be & the inspiration that led them there. Mike Thorn ends each short story with notes and these notes add an even more impact to the story. In fact, these notes lent a hand at making some of these stories even better. Love being like, “I see what you did there.”

As someone who loves horror films, I loved seeing Mike’s love for the genre shine through in his work. This occurs in the fiction pieces alongside the essays that can be found at the end of the expanded edition. To be completely transparent, I skimmed through some of these essays & that’s only because some films I haven’t seen & I really want to watch those films & read the corresponding essay afterward. But, I can tell you that Mike is very knowledgeable about the genre and if you’re like me who loves non-fiction about films then the expanded edition is for you.

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Profile Image for Heather Horror Hellion .
202 reviews58 followers
May 4, 2021
My first thought on this book is look at that fabulous cover. I absolutely love it and it really grabs your attention. You should not judge a book by its cover though so lets jump to the stories inside.

The first half of the book contains 16 delectable works of fiction or well I hope they are fiction ( Mike if you are reading this, they are are fiction right? Right??)
The first story named Hair will ruin your life. I think about it while eating, in the shower, before bed. It just takes up so much head space but I absolutely adore that disgusting work of art. I don't usually get grossed out but that story really did it for me talk about a bad hair day.

The next three stories I feel the need to give a warning to everyone who has faced addiction or lived with an addict. Those stories could possibly feel a bit heavier for you. They are amazingly well written and so clever though.

I want to go on and on about how great all the stories are, including Long Man and Lucio Schluter but, I know at some point you are going to stop reading this because you are already so curious about the disgusting first story and why I wanted to put a warning on those three stories. If this is true I did my job...

The second part of the books are criticisms talking about all different topics of horror. You can tell from reading them that the author is really passionate about what he is writing and truly has a heart for all things spooky.

Profile Image for Lou.
879 reviews860 followers
February 18, 2021
The Auteur

Unwanted dread awaiting main character who was a seasoned horror fan that almost nothing scarred him anymore, till he had out of work hours meeting with work colleague in a kind of movie night date of an irreversible kind.
Horrification orchestrated with precision and effectiveness.

“This isn’t Freddy Krueger spitting jokes. This is no f*****g Boris Karloff in face-paint b******. This is the truth and you need to see it. You asked for it, man.”

Satanic Panic

“Someone killed another kitty”
And it wasn’t me, I love animals as so does Jarad.
One thing is for sure one “hellish epiphany” imminent for him.
Judging a book by its cover and all of that contained along with certain ways of policing and that good old life changing fright night.
Little fright goes a long way.

This is Jarad:
“Jarad looking inconveniently evil with his long hair, patchy beard, torn denim jacket, and death metal patches. For the past weeks, someone had been wandering the streets, brutalizing stray animals and house pets. The God-fearing cops had no doubt in their minds that these repeat killings were the crimes of requisite town weirdo, Jarad Cross. They’d watched the Geraldo Rivera special on the Satanic epidemic currently sweeping their Christian nation. They’d heard the chilling reports of daycare centers run by Lucifer-praising child molesters. They’d seen televised warnings about the bands and album covers that Jarad festooned across his jacket like demonic badges of pride.”


What’s the key to “Theodore’s proverbial heart?”
He shall divulge somewhat on this.

“Theodore understood his existence through only two comprehensible constants: life and death. Everything else, the chaos that came between the cradle and the grave, was unpredictable. What, then, could trump hair’s utter completeness? Hair was both dead and alive—some said that even after human beings bit the dust, their hair continued to sprout and extend. Others argued that this was an illusion, simply the result of flesh receding from a corpse’s skull: as the skin disintegrated, the roots of the hair exposed themselves, thus providing the deceptive image of extended length.
To Theodore’s mind, hair filled the tenebrous space between those two reliable poles, living and nonliving. Nothing set his body alight like discovering hair in unexpected places, nothing more thrilling than to consume the manifestation of existence’s paradox.”

Mictian Diabolus

Its horror night and teens with two boys and girls, Mary, Melody, Justin, and Sean, are in for a fright.


Green terror in a mans home with “a viridescent void.”

“On no other day, though, had he found himself standing gape-faced before his storage room, while his eyes reflected the neon greenness of a heaving blob.
Yes, there was a blob in his storage room.”


Charles has a friend of questionable character and wonders if he has a conscious. Two friends out late and Charles is worried about his mum getting upset over his smoking and amongst other things wondering with Dex. There is trouble ahead.

Long Man

A group friends terrified from this Nighttime visitations from the Long Man.

“They talked calmly to me about nightmares and the power of imagination, and they told me that monsters weren’t real, that monsters would go away if I just didn’t believe in them.”


It could have been a lovely excursion, a little break in a cabin, a sabbatical and dissertation awaiting on the bank page, writers block cure awaits, but it turns out to be a horrific kind of break.

“Gage thought about the stack of Ligotti, Bataille, Zappfe, and Kristeva waiting like a stack of omens in the trunk of the car.”

“He pried himself from the wall and shook his head. What was his problem? Maybe he was the one with the issues—he was, after all, the guy who studied disturbingly nihilistic philosophy with such devotion.
Ligotti goes in, paranoia comes out.”

Remembering Absence

A dilemma of a certain state of existence and a paradox as he says in here, “the world is mine, but I have nothing.”

“This is the recollection that spins continuously and obsessively through my literally brainless mind. Not brainless as in stupid, but brainless as in a physical absence of cerebral lobes, all the mysteries of consciousness unchained from cortex containment. The loss of the body is a vexed and complex gift—or curse—of death, but the persistence of mind haunts me while I’m haunting you, haunting him, haunting her, haunting them. Haunting, haunting, haunting, and good God, I don’t know why this trauma belongs to me.”

“Sure, occasionally I think that I can almost conceptualize my own state of being, that I can maybe put my education’s theoretical abstractions into this reality. But every time I think I might have reached a kind of peace, bolstered by the theories of some post-structuralist or mystic thinker, I’m locked with terror.”

There is 2021 interview I hosted with the author @ https://more2read.com/review/interview-with-mike-thorn/

Review also @ https://more2read.com/review/darkest-hours-by-mike-thorn/
Profile Image for Laertes.
168 reviews8 followers
October 15, 2021
Mike Thorn's 'Darkest Hours' is a fantastic collection of horror short stories!

Every story is original in tone, and albeit most of them being inspired by a multitude of horror tropes from almost every subgenre us horror aficionados know and love, Thorn manages to give each story a spin in his very own voice.

But not only that: some of the stories are absolutely unique, especially 'A New Kind of Drug' - which took my breath away, left me shocked and saddened and baffled all at once... because not only was it touching and disgusting and trippy and gruesome - but also because even with the heaps of horror shorts I have read in my life, I haven't read something like this before. Ever!

So at worst, Thorn offers a fresh perspective on a concept you might already know.

At best, he will blow you away.

And if this is not a reading recommendation, I don't know what is.

[The 'expanded edition' includes liner notes by the author at the end of every story which show how knowledgeable Thorn is when it comes to horror fiction and movies. It also includes non-fiction texts (essays/reviews on horror fiction and films) by the author.]
Profile Image for Rachel (sheepyreads).
20 reviews8 followers
June 15, 2021
Thank you to Mike Thorn for gifting me an advanced reader’s copy of his short story collection!

Darkest Hours is the horror collection equivalent of a big ol’ bowl of vegetable soup. Each horror sub-genre within this collection represents an element meant to warm your belly with its goodness. Looking for some gross body horror? Check. Creature feature? Check. Something more psychological? Double check.

I thoroughly enjoyed each and every story in Thorn’s collection (my favorites being Hair, Lucio Schluter and Satanic Panic) and just kept wanting to read on to see what the next story would consist of.

Probably what I found most impressive about Darkest Hours was the author’s ability to perfectly incorporate humor into those few stories that fell into that category.

If you’re a horror fan, (even if you don’t like vegetable soup) you need this.
Profile Image for Diamond.
84 reviews20 followers
November 11, 2018
This is one exceptionally solid, consistent collection of stories! From the mundane to the outright bizarre Thorn finds many creative ways to make you feel disturbed and uncomfortable, and sometimes even makes you chuckle (looking at you Speaking of Ghosts). There wasn't a single dud in the collection just different varieties of creeped TF out, but my favorites would have to be A New Kind of Drug, The Auteur, Satanic Panic, and Remembering Absence. I particularly loved the running themes of academia and black metal (strange combo I know, but it really works) this is a must read collection and I can't wait to read more from Thorn.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Daniel Barnett.
Author 14 books230 followers
October 14, 2018
Unique concepts meet a confident and fresh voice, with a good peppering of terror. A few stories felt as though they ended a bit short, but each one left me wanting more, and think that says a lot about the the strength of this collection. There’s an art to unsatisfaction, particularly when it comes to short fiction, and Thorn’s got that art down. I’ll be reading more by him, for sure.
Profile Image for Randy Schroeder.
Author 1 book14 followers
October 19, 2019
Smart, strange, slanted, and chilling. This is a box of horror gems, polished to a dark lustre. If you like intelligent horror that rewards attentive reading, you do not want to miss this book. If you don’t want to take my word for it, just take one look at all the wonderful buzz this work has received in the horror community.

Hopefully we’ll see more from Thorn very soon.
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