I love short story collections, and Mike Thorn’s debut collection of dark fiction is chock full of unnerving tales (Ha! see what I did there?!). Darkest Hours starts very strongly indeed with the story Hair. I recently watched the movie Raw and Raw has a scene in it where a girl is choking and begins coughing up strands of hair. For me, it was easily the most disturbing scene in the entire movie. The first story in this collection reminded me of this, and similarly, I was almost gagging as I read it. I also really enjoyed the Lovecraftian overtones of the second story, Mictian Diabolus, which sees a group of kids sneak into a school where a series of horrific murders took place at the hands of the principal! Evil still lurks there as our young group soon discover.
Later in the collection, Sabbatical proves to be another highlight and I’m starting to recognize how Thorn likes doing nasty things to academics! There are some really unsettling scenes in this one, particularly towards the end. Similarly with the story Fusion, a body horror tale that is like a mash-up of Carpenter’s The Thing and Cabin Fever! I love body horror and this one certainly scratched that itch.
You can tell Thorn is a music fan and that he shares a love for music at the heavier end of the spectrum. Mayhem and Godflesh both get mentions as do numerous others. For a debut short story collection, Darkest Hours is a varied and hugely enjoyable gathering of dark fiction. There is more than enough talent showcased within these pages to suggest that Mike Thorn’s journey has only just begun. I look forward to seeing where he goes from here.
4/5 well-written research papers from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.