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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Midnight Is The Darkest Hour

Narrator: Sarah Welborn

Tantor Audio

ISBN: 9798350836561

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Publication Date: 10/03/2023

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (ARC)

From the critically acclaimed author of In My Dreams I Hold A Knife and The Last Housewife comes Midnight is the Darkest Hour, a gothic Southern thriller about a killer haunting a small Louisiana town, where two outcasts―the preacher's daughter and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks―hold the key to uncovering the truth.

For fans of Verity and A Flicker in the Dark, Midnight is the Darkest Hour is a twisted tale of murder, obsessive love, and the beastly urges that lie dormant within us all...even the God-fearing folk of Bottom Springs, Louisiana. In her small hometown, librarian Ruth Cornier has always felt like an outsider, even as her beloved father rains fire-and-brimstone warnings from the pulpit at Holy Fire Baptist. Unfortunately for Ruth, the only things the townspeople fear more than the God and the Devil are the myths that haunt the area, like the story of the Low Man, a vampiric figure said to steal into sinners' bedrooms and kill them on moonless nights. When a skull is found deep in the swamp next to mysterious carved symbols, Bottom Springs is thrown into uproar―and Ruth realizes only she and Everett, an old friend with a dark past, have the power to comb the town's secret underbelly in search of true evil.

A dark and powerful novel like fans have come to expect from Ashley Winstead, Midnight is the Darkest Hour is an examination of the ways we've come to expect love, religion, and stories to save us, the lengths we have to go to in order to take back power, and the monstrous work of being a girl in this world.

"Where The Crawdads Sing meets Twilight meets Thelma and Louise in this brilliantly realized, totally original thriller. Absolutely sensational―I couldn't put it down." ―Clare Mackintosh, New York Times bestselling author.

My Review

Dark, Lyrical, Spellbinding!

Ashley Winstead returns following The Last Housewife with MIDNIGHT IS THE DARKEST HOUR—A dark, disturbing, and eerie Southern Gothic tale with evil men masked as Godly, an innocent determined young preacher's daughter, and an outcast trying to escape this wicked, sinister horror-filled town for a darkly romantic, lyrical, suspenseful intense ride of Bonnie and Clyde.

That ENDING!! ??? Heart-pounding! I was listening to the audiobook, exceptionally narrated by Sarah Welborn, and was hanging on her every word. I had to rewind multiple times to see if I missed something; however, it was a perfect ending for the reader to decide how they envisioned.

Welcome to the God-fearing folks of Bottom Springs, Louisiana. However, most of them who claim to be righteous are pure EVIL!! There are plenty of dark secrets.

The preacher's (Holy Fire Baptist) daughter, Ruth Cornier, is an outsider and a bookworm. She is a romantic. Of course, she is not interested in the guy her parents have chosen for her. Her parents are controlling and monitor everything she does. Her dad, the pastor, has everyone in his back pocket, including the sheriff and local townspeople.

The town folks fear God, the Devil, and the Low Man, a vampire said to steal into the sinner's bedrooms and kill them on moonless nights.

When they find a skull in the swamp, Ruth and Everett Duncan have their secrets and begin a dangerous search for the dark underbelly of this evil town.

Ruth's parents forbid her to see Everett (they think is the son of the Devil), who has been under the torture of his father and the town. The two (Bonnie & Clyde), in secret, uncover the town's dark secrets, including those of her father.

Will the two escape this evil town for a life away from this horror and make it out alive for the dreams and life they longingly search for?

What a book! Ashley Winstead's writing is lyrical and poetic, and the characters of Ruth and Everett (loved) are well-developed—you will root for them until the end. GOOD VS. EVIL.

Atmospheric, twisty, gripping, commanding!

MIDNIGHT IS THE DARKEST HOUR is a powerful and dark Gothic Southern tale exploring occults, abuse, rape, torture, trauma, religion, and evil, with dark romance, love, revenge, and redemption. With the tenacity of a young woman trying to fight/find her way through a small-town environment of evil, monsters, and corruption.

Ideal for Halloween reading!

Thanks to Tantor Audio and NetGalley for an early listening copy for an honest opinion.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Pub Date: Oct 3, 2023


"This is a well-woven tale of love and lust, dark impulses and darker deeds. Pro tip: Read this one with all the lights on, unless you never want to sleep again."

― Good Housekeeping

"A darkly romantic gothic tale of a swampy Southern town with too many bad men and too much fear of the devil...Winstead’s spellbinding prose ensnares the reader just as much as the eerie setting and driving suspense."

― CrimeReads

"An excellent twisty mystery."

― Library Journal, STARRED review

"Blending gothic horror and mystery, this is a dark, twisted, and disturbing story...with an ending that readers will be thinking about long after the final page."

― Booklist

"Winstead serves up a sharp meditation on feminism and religious oppression in this atmospheric Louisiana-set thriller. Evocative a major plus. Fans of Michael Koryta’s Southern gothic novels...will be enchanted."

― Publishers Weekly

"Ashley Winstead shows her versatility and virtuosity as an author in this dark, eerie and completely enchanting book about friendship, love and vengeance. Midnight is the Darkest Hour is as creepy as it gets - and a tearjerker to boot! I loved every minute of it."

― Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Just the Nicest Couple

"A gothic tale that blurs the line between good and evil, love and revenge, and the inherent desire to please our parents while simultaneously struggling to find ourselves. Midnight is the Darkest Hour is unique and unnerving from beginning to end."

― Stacy Willingham, New York Times bestselling author of All the Dangerous Things

"Dark and lyrical...a compelling story about the occult, evil, and the ways religious fundamentalism can overtake reason, it’s also a story about loyalty, friendship and what connects us all at our deepest roots. Once again, Ashley Winstead spins a tale that is equal parts disturbing and redemptive. (And when you’re done reading, please message me so we can talk about that ending!)"

― Julie Clark, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Flight and The Lies I Tell

"Where the Crawdads Sing meets Twilight meets Thelma and Louise in this brilliantly realized, totally original thriller. Absolutely sensational―I couldn’t put it down."

― Clare Mackintosh, New York Times bestselling author

"Winstead delivers another yet multi-layered thriller so nuanced and intricately woven that you absolutely cannot help but race to the end."

― Amanda Jayatissa, author of You’re Invited

"With lush, gorgeous writing and dynamic characterization, Ashley Winstead carefully dismantles the corrupted hierarchy that has ruled a God-fearing small town, and unleashes the trapped scream of being a young woman in the world. This haunting, twisting story will stay with you long after the last page."

― Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of The Girls Are All So Nice Here

"An utter triumph, Midnight is the Darkest Hour is Ashley Winstead's most dazzling thriller to date. This is a one-sitting binge read, so cancel all plans and prepare to become completely obsessed with Ruth and Everett and the darkly magical world of Bottom Springs, Louisiana. Twilight meets True Blood meets Colleen Hoover in this completely original, explosive suspense where every line is a poem and every chapter a lyrical symphony. I could not put this book down and haven't been so wholly captured by a story in this way in years."

― May Cobb, author of A Likeable Woman and The Hunting Wives

"Woe unto the preacher's daughter, or at least that's what you might think navigating the dark and broody twists of Ashley Winstead's spellbinding latest, Midnight is the Darkest Hour. Prepare yourself (if you can) for serpents of the Deep South gospel slithering into a beautifully rendered Twilight fever dream―like all of Ashley's incredible books, you won't be able to turn the pages fast enough."

― Vanessa Lillie, bestselling author of Little Voices and Blood Sisters

"The sharp-toothed answer to every fairy tale that warns girls to stay out of the woods...because what if we like what we find? Ashley Winstead has at once crafted an incisive critique of fundamentalism and one of the most unforgettable love stories I’ve ever read, dressed as a thriller that surprises at every turn."

― Katie Gutierrez, bestselling author of More Than You'll Ever Know

About the Author

Portrait of Ashley Winstead | Image Credit: Luis Noble

Ashley Winstead is the author of In My Dreams I Hold a Knife, The Last Housewife, Midnight is the Darkest Hour, Fool Me Once, and The Boyfriend Candidate. Her books have been Library Read picks, Loan Star picks, Best of Amazon picks, and Best of Apple Books picks, and have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, BookPage, and Library Journal.

Her work has been covered by New York Times, Washington Post, CrimeReads, Parade, Cosmopolitan, Good Morning America, Good Housekeeping, Seattle Times, and Southern Review of Fiction, among other outlets.

Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages worldwide and optioned for film/television. Ashley holds a Ph.D. in contemporary American literature and lives in Houston.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR ONLINE Website: Twitter: @ashleywinstead Instagram: @ashleywinsteadbooks Goodreads: Ashley_Winstead



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