The Weird Delights of Daniel Braum’s Underworld Dreams

Cover Reveal: Underworld Dreams by Daniel Braum – Ink Heist
Lethe Press, 2020

Daniel Braum’s new short story collection Underworld Dreams comes equipped with a Story Notes section; within these Notes, the author provides thoughtful reflections on his creative process, narrative intentions, and philosophical interests, among other things. Most prominently, Braum stresses his persisting interest in the ambiguous space between the psychological and the supernatural. Braum’s fiction inhabits this space and engages with the Weird tradition to depict our reality as innately interstitial, slippery, and impervious to “mastery.” By extension, Underworld Dreams repeatedly encourages us to scrutinize the artificial gap between human and nonhuman animals, between subject and world.

This coy, quiet, and unassuming challenge to human exceptionalism resonates throughout. The first story, “How to Stay Afloat When Drowning,” features a disturbing centerpiece in which a group of people brutally torture a shark; later, the story uses its psychological-supernatural ambiguity to blur the distinction between shark and human. “The Monkey Coat” lends attention to the suffering bound up in its titular object (the origin of whose horrors remain unknown).

Braum does not employ this symbolism to bluntly didactic ends; rather, he assesses the artificial divide between human and nonhuman animal to underline broader investigations about the human subject’s relation to the world. For example, the title story sees characters discussing acts of infidelity and dishonesty as reflections of their “monkey in the jungle” selves.

Braum cites Algernon Blackwood’s classic Weird novella The Willows in his Story Notes, and the imprint is visible: Underworld Dreams repeatedly sees its characters encountering eerily numinous spaces and reality-fissures in environments that have evaded global industrialism. Braum finds lots of potential for the ineffable in “natural” spaces, demonstrating a knack for imagery and atmosphere.

There are horrifying moments here (perhaps most notably in the aforementioned “Monkey Coat,” reportedly inspired by advice Braum got from the legendary Jack Ketchum), but this book mostly occupies Weird Fiction’s less macabre terrain. China Melville writes that the “obsession with numinosity under the everyday is at the heart of Weird Fiction,” and this is the obsession that most clearly characterizes Underworld Dreams. For readers seeking fiction with a strong narrative engine and a bold commitment to the unknown, this collection is one to seek out.

Limited time offer: Get a signed copy of DARKEST HOURS

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Once again, I find myself with a few spare copies of Darkest Hours that I’m willing to sign and mail out ($18 USD + shipping).

Contact me if you’re interested!

“Perfectly paced from the first sentence, these stories grab you by the collar with the urgency of mortal danger. Highly recommended.”
— Bram Stoker Award nominee S.P. Miskowski, author of Strange is the Night

“Thorn presents a collection of horror stories that are not only scary, but also intelligent, thoughtful, and carefully planned confronting the anxieties of modern life.”
— iHorror

“Just read the opener, ‘Hair’ and became an instant fan. How can you not delight in a story about a metalhead fixated on long hair who starts obsessively eating it until hair begins to… um, well, buy Darkest Hours now and find out.”
— Bram Stoker Award winner Michael Arnzen, author of Grave Markings

“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.”
— Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines and Willy

“These short stories show the author’s incredible range and versatility.”
Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

“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

“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

“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.”
— Bram Stoker Award winner Marge Simon, author of Four Elements and Satan’s Sweethearts

“One of the best and most rewarding feelings as a horror fan is reading a new author’s work and being blown away by their talent and the awe of discovering something cool. That is the exact feeling I got when I first sat down to crack open Mike Thorn’s debut story collection, Darkest Hours.”
— The Horror Bookshelf

“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?”
— Char’s Horror Corner

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

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.”
— Grim Reader Reviews

Darkest Hours is horror for horror people. For the ‘confirmed ghost story and horror film addict,’ if you will. But it’s also for people with strong emotions and a desire for philosophical thought.”
— One Critical Bitch

“There are times in Thorn’s prose where I’m reminded not only of some of the best Stephen King from Skeleton Crew or Night Shift, but also of some of the more bizarre stories from Clive Barker’s Books of Blood.”
— Biff Bam Pop

“The stories are clever and witty. The characters are all too real.”
— Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews

“Mike Thorn’s Darkest Hours contains the most diverse selection of stories that I’ve ever read from a single author.”
— Sci-Fi & Scary

Darkest Hours Celebrates its First Birthday

darkesthoursbanner
Unnerving published Mike Thorn’s debut short story collection Darkest Hours exactly one year ago. Critics and authors say:

“Thorn is an exciting new talent in the genre.”
The Horror Bookshelf

“Some sections recall Chuck Palahniuk in their nihilistic ultraviolence, while others have a Barker-esque feel… in their embrace of beauty in carnage.”
Anya Stanley

“These short stories show the author’s incredible range and versatility.”
Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

“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.”
Bram Stoker Award winner Marge Simon, author of Four Elements and Satan’s Sweethearts

“There are times in Thorn’s prose where I’m reminded not only of some of the best Stephen King from Skeleton Crew or Night Shift, but also of some of the more bizarre stories from Clive Barker’s Books of Blood.”
Biff Bam Pop

“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

“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

“The stories are clever and witty. The characters are all too real.”
Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews

“Just read the opener, ‘Hair’ and became an instant fan. How can you not delight in a story about a metalhead fixated on long hair who starts obsessively eating it until hair begins to… um, well, buy Darkest Hours now and find out.”
Bram Stoker Award winner Michael Arnzen, author of Grave Markings

“Thorn has certainly made his mark on the genre as a whole, and also on me.”
Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviewer

“A bloody fantastic collection.”
Lydian Faust, author of Forest Underground

“Dark, funny, entertaining, horrifying, clever, this book announces the arrival of a new frustratingly exceptional talent to the dark fiction scene.”
Leo X. Robertson, author of Bonespin Slipspace

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

“There is more than enough talent showcased within these pages to suggest that Mike Thorn’s journey has only just begun.”
Grim Reader Reviews

“I compared these stories many times to my favorites from Poe.”
Sunshine Somerville

“Mike Thorn’s Darkest Hours contains the most diverse selection of stories that I’ve ever read from a single author.”
Sci-Fi & Scary

“Thorn has compiled a varied and creative anthology.”
Cellar Door Lit Rants & Reviews

 

 

Limited Time Offer: Get a Signed Copy of Darkest Hours with a Surprise Bonus Spooky Item [SOLD OUT]

darkesthours

I just happen to currently have some extra copies of Darkest Hours I’m willing to sign and mail out (with one surprise spooky bonus item per shipment). $18 USD + shipping.

Contact me if you’re interested!

“Perfectly paced from the first sentence, these stories grab you by the collar with the urgency of mortal danger. Highly recommended.”
— Bram Stoker Award nominee S.P. Miskowski, author of Strange is the Night

“Thorn presents a collection of horror stories that are not only scary, but also intelligent, thoughtful, and carefully planned confronting the anxieties of modern life.”
— iHorror

“Just read the opener, ‘Hair’ and became an instant fan. How can you not delight in a story about a metalhead fixated on long hair who starts obsessively eating it until hair begins to… um, well, buy Darkest Hours now and find out.”
— Bram Stoker Award winner Michael Arnzen, author of Grave Markings

“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.”
— Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines and Willy

“These short stories show the author’s incredible range and versatility.”
Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

“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

“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

“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.”
— Bram Stoker Award winner Marge Simon, author of Four Elements and Satan’s Sweethearts

“One of the best and most rewarding feelings as a horror fan is reading a new author’s work and being blown away by their talent and the awe of discovering something cool. That is the exact feeling I got when I first sat down to crack open Mike Thorn’s debut story collection, Darkest Hours.”
— The Horror Bookshelf

“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?”
— Char’s Horror Corner

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

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.”
— Grim Reader Reviews

Darkest Hours is horror for horror people. For the ‘confirmed ghost story and horror film addict,’ if you will. But it’s also for people with strong emotions and a desire for philosophical thought.”
— One Critical Bitch

“There are times in Thorn’s prose where I’m reminded not only of some of the best Stephen King from Skeleton Crew or Night Shift, but also of some of the more bizarre stories from Clive Barker’s Books of Blood.”
— Biff Bam Pop

“The stories are clever and witty. The characters are all too real.”
— Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews

“Mike Thorn’s Darkest Hours contains the most diverse selection of stories that I’ve ever read from a single author.”
— Sci-Fi & Scary

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