REVIEW: “Fear and Grace” by Mike Thorn

Review of Mike Thorn, “Fear and Grace”, Darkest Hours (Unnerving, 2017): 130-149 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

Content note: Violence against animals, gore.

This is one of the first stories in the anthology to feature a female main character — and she’s queer to boot — and yet strangely, it is Justine’s teenage flame Herbert, not mid-thirties Justine herself, whom this story is focused upon. This is a continual theme of the anthology, where even stories that feature women do not center them, but place them in an orbit of a man, such as the “erudite, virile Herbert” who “with one expression, with the subtlest of body language…could make you forget just about anything” (p. 132).

Just about anything, but not everything:

She was willing to entertain the notion that people who did bad things were not necessarily bad people, but no matter how hard she tried, it seemed she just could not forget some bad things (p. 133).

We are treated to Justine’s memories of what she cannot forget, and it’s not pleasant. It is gore for the sake of gore, purposeless and banal. Or perhaps there is a purpose, a warning that we can take away — people don’t change.

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