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Darkest Hours Expanded Edition By: Mike Thorn Book Review

Rating: 3.5/5

While this read did begin as a requested read, I ended up putting it off to the point that I felt like a huge jerk, so I bought the book to maybe even out the playing field. Even though it wasn't my favorite book of short stories, it was still a solid read overall. The great thing about short story compilations is that you really don't have to like every story; if you don't like one story, there is always potential for the next one! That's part of why I love short, punchy horror stories as a reader-- they really have endless possibilities! And I really loved that he included an author's note at the end of each story to explain his inspiration. That was part of the reason that I loved Junji Ito's Shiver, he explained his inspiration at the end of each story which is just exhilarating to me. I love understanding what drove authors to create stories, especially short horror stories because sometimes they are so off-the-wall.

As a whole, I genuinely enjoyed 9 of the 16 short stories. Those short stories are: "Hair","A New Kind of Drug","Mired","The Auteur", "Choo-Choo", "Long Man","Lucio Schluter", "Fusion", and "Remembering Absence". My particular favorites that really stuck out as being particularly effective were "Hair," "Long Man," and "Lucio Schluter". Something about "Hair" was so viscerally descriptive and overwhelmingly disgusting that it left a HUGE impression. It had me hooked in the first few pages, my disgust becoming almost palpable. But something about it also felt nostalgic to me. If you guys ever read the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books growing up, this had that same energy throughout. It made me feel, as an adult, the same way I felt as a kid reading those books. So I cannot recommend this story enough, even though you will leave it very grossed out. Also, I know that Thorn mentioned that there was a call for a longer story behind "Long Man"and I agree. I want a full length novel (or novella) of the Long Man as an antagonist but with some good backstory (PLEASE hit me up if this becomes a reality). Finally, "Lucio Schluter" was disturbing in its just claustrophobic dread that we experience with the protagonist at the climax. It's disturbing in just the right way. (FYI, if you like disturbing books with this vibe, I just read Exquisite Corpse by: Poppy Z. Brite, and it fits that mold [no pun intended]). Thorn just has a way with description that makes the stories hit the reader hard because you feel like you're part of the experience (especially "Hair" I cannot stress how grimy that story made me feel).

I didn't include "Economy These Days" in my likes because it hit way too close to home (as a recent Master's degree graduate who has no job in my field). But I will admit that it was pretty funny, in a dark way.

I couldn't stand "Speaking of Ghosts," I know the point was that the language was over-inflated and pretentious, but I couldn't stand reading it. And I also guess I'm not that into "Satanic Panic" type horror because none of those stories hit right for me. I also kind of just flipped through the movie critique section of the book. I was never very interested in any of the movie portions that I read. I guess I watch horror movies almost solely for enjoyment and I don't have very much drive to "learn" anything from them. I'm a horror fan, don't get me wrong. But my enjoyment is focused heavily on the effect and the vibe, not so much the composition or the commentary. But if you like reading about horror movies, it's clear that Thorn really knows what he's talking about. (BTW I watched Djinn and I tried to like it, but I could not :/ ).

As a whole, even though it wasn't my favorite, I do think it was solid. Short stories have the ability to give you a taste of an author's writing style, without the danger of getting bogged down with the story itself. I like Thorn's voice as a writer and I think that he'll be doing great things in the future. I look forward to that full length novel about the Long Man that better be coming (please write it, I want to know more).

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