“With this short novel, Thorn tackles unknown sentient horrors, teenage rage, violence, and toxic masculinity in a stunning and intimate debut.”
“We made it through 2020, folks. We did it! As a reward, we’ve got an absolutely stacked year ahead of us when it comes to 2021’s new horror books. There are already over 100 titles on our radar for this year, with more expected to be announced for publication in the fall and winter. New releases include Grady Hendrix, Rivers Solomon, Stephen Graham Jones, Brian Evenson, Cassandra Khaw, Richard Chizmar, Zoje Stage, Josh Malerman, Cynthia Pelayo, Gemma Files, Ramsey Campbell, Catriona Ward, Chuck Wendig, Jeffrey Ford, V. Castro, and many, many, many more.”
What inspired Shelter for the Damned?
Like most creative projects, Shelter for the Damned took inspiration from numerous places. I wanted to write something in the suburban horror tradition, and I wanted to write something with adolescent characters. I drew a lot on the novels of Hubert Selby Jr. and Jim Thompson, specifically their pessimism and their unblinking commitment to disturbed protagonists devoured by their own demons …
“The novel’s pacing is relentless. You may find yourself breathing only during page turns. Thorn has a real knack for building intensity to a fever pitch and letting the effect carry over into the action. His prose is smooth and his dialogue stretches the anger of juvenile angst without forcing it into unnatural banter. What’s really terrifying about this novel is its fidelity to the suburban experience—that is, what’s scary is how realistic so much of it is.”
Kristi DeMeester’s Everything That’s Underneath reads something like a creative thesis on horror fiction’s inherently allegorical potential. The story’s title speaks to the collection’s persisting concerns. Namely, the book faces the menace undergirding polite society, and the unseen specters clawing at the outskirts of consciousness, even of reality itself (consider, for example, the title story, “Birthright,” and “Split Tongues”).
The author navigates lived-in, conflicted protagonists through plots whose threats are often shapeshifting, amorphous, and inscrutable. DeMeester demonstrates a mastery of withholding detail while doling out just enough information to pry her way under the reader’s skin. This is one of the most difficult tasks the horror writer faces: if we show too much, we risk deflating the tension, but if we show too little, we might seem like we’re bluffing or shying away from the dark stuff. DeMeester never misses the mark in this regard, depicting horrific presences that push against the thin membrane separating reality and that which is underneath.
The book displays an extremely impressive knack for character psychology, using heightened sensory experiences and drives as catalysts to confront supernatural forces. Consider the characters’ sexual lust propelling the narratives in “The Fleshtival,” “Daughters of Hecate,” and “Split Tongues,” or the yearning to undo loss in the title story and “To Sleep in the Dust of the Earth.” DeMeester is unflinching in her exploration of her characters’ desires, which lends itself to a convincing sense of realism in their motivations and actions.
Driven by challenging thematic interests and a stunning prose style, this book ranks among the best dark fiction collections of the past ten years. Think S. P. Miskowski, Gwendolyn Kiste, Kathe Koja … yes, DeMeester is that good. This is the work of a major talent, and an absolute must-read for anyone interested in contemporary weird fiction.
“Are you ready for 2021? I am!
While 2020 has been a hellfire, fortunately the quality of horror fiction remained excellent. There were plenty of fantastic horror books released this year and I hope they entertained you, or at least took your mind off your worries for a while.
So looking ahead to 2021, I have compiled a list of the most anticipated horror books coming soon! To make it simple, I chose the ones that already have a cover and publication date.”
Check out the full list.
On February 26, 2021, JournalStone will release Mike Thorn’s debut novel, Shelter for the Damned. This grisly, pessimistic, supernatural tale is Thorn’s contribution to the great tradition of suburban horror.
“‘Mini McDonagh Manor’ by Mike Thorn was pristine and showed why I love Mike’s writing so much. Following a woman who needs to confront things from the past, Mike does a really great job of encasing an entire ‘haunted house’ book in a dozen or so pages. Well done.”
I’m thrilled to announce that my new story “Offer to the Adversary” will be included in Beyond the Book of Eibon, a literary tribute anthology to the Italian horror master, Lucio Fulci!
Edited by Perry Ruhland and Astrid Rose, the book will also include contributions by Adam Cesare, Gemma Files, Orrin Grey, Michael Hoarty, Kai Perrignon, Matt Serafini, William Tea, Christopher Slatsky, and others. Featuring a foreword by Kier-La Janisse.
It seems only yesterday that I unleashed my debut short story collection Darkest Hours on the world. November 10, 2020 will mark its three-year anniversary, and the end of its print run with Unnerving. So far, the book has been thriving thanks to support and enthusiasm from readers, reviewers, and horror enthusiasts from all dark corners. I fully intend to find it an excellent new home, and I will provide updates as they come!
In other news, my debut novel Shelter for the Damned is scheduled for release with JournalStone on February 26, 2021. I have a lot of exciting updates related to that project, but I’m going to have to sit on those for the time being.
Here’s the synopsis:
While looking for a secret place to smoke cigarettes with his two best friends, troubled teenager Mark discovers a mysterious shack in a suburban field. Alienated from his parents and peers, Mark finds within the shack an escape greater than anything he has ever experienced.
But it isn’t long before the place begins revealing its strange, powerful sentience. And it wants something in exchange for the shelter it provides.
Stay spooky, my friends! More updates soon…