Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition by Mike Thorn

REVIEW

I didn’t think I could love this collection more, but I so do! When it comes to Mike Thorn, more is always better. And this Expanded Edition gives you so much more. Hard to believe it’s been four years since the original was released by Unnerving – I remember reading through it the first time thinking what the absolute fuck. In the best way of course. I never thought of hair the same way. Ever.

So what comes in the box? Besides freshly revised versions of the all the original stories, we get an awesome new cover from Mikio Murakami, a lovely foreword from Sadie Hartmann (of Mother Horror renown), story notes for each story, and a collection of excellent essays on horror cinema.

I’m not going to review each of the stories in depth, but I will say if I had to pick my jewel of the collection, I’m going to have to go with “Mictian Diabolus”. A story with anything or anyone called The Peeler hits all of my sweet spots.

Of all the new content, the story notes are my favourite addition. As both a reader and author, I love to hear how stories came to be and their influences (so incredibly varied) and how they evolved. Super cool.

And the essays? Mike knows SO much about horror film history, and his insights on such make me realize how much I don’t know and what I should go track down and devour (Rob Zombie’s 31!). He makes it look effortless. After you read this set of essays, if you haven’t poured through the lists of his favourites (and why they are his favourites) on Twitter, you’re missing out. Run, don’t walk, and read them all. Trust me, you’ll learn so much.

Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition will be released into the world by Journalstone on June 11, 2021.

INTERVIEW – BETWEEN TWO FLAMES WITH LOLA AND NOGGY

Noggy: Today in the studio, we have the infamous Mike Thorn. Want to tell us a little about your new collection Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition and why we’d consider you infamous? 

Mike: Yes, I do want to tell you about Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition! Thank you, Sarah and Rob. This is a deluxe reissue of a short story collection initially released in 2017. This updated version includes my author notes for all 16 original stories, 17 essays on horror cinema, and a foreword by the great Sadie Hartmann (Mother Horror). It also features beautiful new cover art by Mikio Murakami. 

I suspect you might consider me infamous because my reading of “Hair” made several customers gag at Owl’s Nest Books. Is that true?  

Noggy: I’m going to say yes! (Sarah’s nota bene: it is true and it was me). And that’s probably why the Nest now has hardwood instead of carpet. So with that out of the way, I do have a burning question, are you perhaps any relation to the Frank Manly Thorn? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Manly_Thorn – you’re both sort of dapper writer types in that monstrous and indescribable way. 

Mike: I can’t respond to this with any certainty. If I send my saliva to 23andMe, will they be able to confirm? I apologize for answering your question with a question, but it’s the best I can do right now. 

Lola: Understood. If anyone understands evasion, we certainly do. What horror movie/book/media you totally love and adore that most people think is garbage – and vice versa? 

Mike: I recently rewatched the director’s cut of The Bye Bye Man, directed by Stacy Title, and I liked it even more on a second viewing. I’m also a huge fan of John Boorman’s Exorcist II, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, all of Dario Argento’s late-career work, Bela Lugosi’s Poverty Row pictures … I could go on and on. There are so many horror films that I think are misunderstood and/or underappreciated!  

As for the reverse: I did not respond to A Quiet Place at all, but I know a lot of people were excited by it.  

Lola: Fuck/Marry/Kill: characters and monsters from Darkest Hours. Come on, we know you have answers! 

Mike: Fuck the blob from “Mired.” 
Marry Cate from “The Auteur.” 
Kill Steve from “Party Time.”

You’ll have to read the book to psychoanalyze these responses, folks!

Noggy: You just released your first novel – Shelter for the Damned – do you think you’ll write more novels, or are you retreating back to short stories where the fun and uh… money is? 

Mike: Right now, I’m drafting a screen treatment and an essay for an anthology on Weird Fiction. I’m also neck-deep in a second novel. I intend to keep working within both the long and short forms. Wherever the muse leads me, you know? 

Lola: What would you do if you woke up one morning and found a single stout hair growing in the middle of your tongue? 

Mike: Just one hair? In all honesty, I would probably just pluck it. If this became a recurring issue, or if one hair became two (or more), I would promptly schedule a visit with my doctor.  

Lola: The only thing less respectable than being a horror writer is being a film critic. In your view, is becoming a critic failing up or down? 

Mike: “Respectable” is overrated.  

I like to think my failings are on a consistently upward trajectory. Thanks for this question.  

Noggy: Could be worse I guess, you could be a poet. Want to tell us about what you have coming out this year and what you’re working on? Or have you peaked and plan on coasting for the rest of the decade? 

Mike: My second short story collection, Peel Back and See, comes out from Journalstone in October. Also, Jamie Blanks and I have been talking about collaborating on something scary for the screen! 

Right now, I’m working on getting vaccinated and staying afloat.

Noggy: Good luck with with all your endeavours, and enjoy your new microchip. Well Lola, guess we should mention that Mike has also been coerced into writing a story for The Seventh Terrace’s forthcoming mini-anthology Terrace VI: Forbidden Fruit, out in June!

Lola: Do yourself a favour and pick up Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition. And remember, there’s always more than one hair…

5/5


About the Author:

Mike Thorn is the author of the novel Shelter for the Damned and the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, and Tales to Terrify. His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and In Review Online

Visit his website mikethornwrites.com or connect with him on Twitter @MikeThornWrites.

Publisher: Journalstone