Midnight is the Darkest Hour

TikTok made me buy it! A brand new spine-chilling small town thriller for fans of Twilight and True Detective

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Pub Date Oct 12 2023 | Archive Date Oct 13 2023
Aria & Aries | Head of Zeus -- an Aries Book

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Twilight meets True Detective in this creepy Southern Gothic thriller, from TikTok sensation Ashley Winstead.

‘Unleashes the trapped scream of being a young woman in the world.' Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
'One of the most gasp-inducing endings I’ve ever read.' Clare Mackintosh

Beware of the dark. You might like what you find...

Ruth Collier has always felt like an outsider, even as her father rains fire and brimstone from the church pulpit. In Bottom Springs, his word is as good as law.

But there are things the townspeople fear more than God, like the Low Man, a vampiric figure said to kill sinners in their beds on moonless nights.

When a skull is found deep in the swamp, a hunt for the Low Man begins. Suspicion turns to Everett – Ruth’s oldest friend, with a dark past. As Ruth and Everett grow closer, Ruth begins to unearth the town’s secrets, determined to discover the truth.

But as the line between good and evil grows ever thin, how far will Ruth go to save the person she loves most?

‘Blurs the line between good and evil, love and revenge, and the inherent desire to please our parents while struggling to find ourselves.’ Stacy Willingham

Twilight meets True Detective in this creepy Southern Gothic thriller, from TikTok sensation Ashley Winstead.

‘Unleashes the trapped scream of being a young woman in the world.' Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Advance Praise

Where the Crawdads Sing meets Twilight meets Thelma and Louise in this brilliantly realized, totally original thriller.’ Clare Mackintosh

‘[A] dark, eerie and completely enchanting book about friendship, love and vengeance… as creepy as it gets! I loved every minute.’ Mary Kubica

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

‘Blurs the line between good and evil, love and revenge, and the inherent desire to please our parents while struggling to find ourselves.’ Stacy Willingham

‘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?’ Katie Gutierrez

‘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

‘Equal parts disturbing and redemptive. (And when you’re done reading, please message me so we can talk about that ending!)’ Julie Clark

‘Ashley Winstead's most dazzling thriller to date. Twilight meets True Blood meets Colleen Hoover in this completely original, explosive suspense. I could not put this book down.’ May Cobb

‘Prepare yourself for serpents of the Deep South gospel slithering into a beautifully rendered Twilight fever dream – you won't be able to turn the pages fast enough.’ Vanessa Lillie

Where the Crawdads Sing meets Twilight meets Thelma and Louise in this brilliantly realized, totally original thriller.’ Clare Mackintosh

‘[A] dark, eerie and completely enchanting book about...

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Featured Reviews

winstead will forever be my fave thriller author and she’s nailed it once again. i am truly obsessed with the vibes & the story x

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Ashley Winstead knocks it out of the park with her newest novel showing the dark side of religion, when faith borders on obsession and there is danger everywhere. Lovers this amazing story!

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My first Ashley Winstead. What an author and what a ride. I thoroughly enjoyed this and am excited to read her backlist. This plot is utterly amazing and the setting is very atmospheric and I loved every single minute.

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Wow, where to start! This book has cemented Ashely Winstead as a must read author for me - I'll be inhailing everything she puts out 😅 I saw that she'd shared the NetGalley ad for this on her story and I applied right away. I read The Boyfriend Candidate as an eARC and loved it, so I had high hopes for this and I was not disappointed! I couldn't put this down once I started and ended up binging it in a day! I can't wait to get a physical copy when it's released in October 📖

This book is a dark mystery thriller with a lot of religous and occualt theming throughout, mixed with a splash of horror and romance. It's set in a small southern community that feels like it's gripped by a satanic panic. We follow Ruth, our MFC, who is the daughter of the big preacher in the town, and Everett, known as the "devil's son". The book is set in both the present day, and flashbacks to a few years back to gain context - this is done really well and it's always very clear which time period you're in 👻

We see Ruth try to live up to her father's high expectations of being a devout Christian, which she struggles with as she tries to find herself. Ruth becomes good friends with Everett who comes from a very different background and gives off a "lives on the wrong side of the tracks" vibe. We get to see their close friendship blosum as they bond over their love for literature 📚

A skull is discovered in the swamp, followed by another, which leads the local police into hunting a serial killer. This leads Ruth and Everitt to delve into the mysteries of the town. There's SO much more I want to say, but I'll end up in spoiler teritory and you really want to go into this book with no spoilers to get the full effect!

I love the nods to Twilight that we see throughout the book, the nostalgia that gave me was amazing - I'm considering a reread 🙈 I also got some Riverdale vibes (mainly from the small town southern setting I think) - but good Riverdale, before it went a bit off the rails 😅

Ashley's writing is phenominal, it's amazing how she manages to take such a dark, complex topic, and make it so enjoyable. It blows my mind how she can deliver such outstanding books across multiple genres. I really recommend reading this book when it comes out on 3rd October 2023 📅

The book is dark and there are trigger warnings listed, so definitely check these out before jumping in.

Huge thank you to @netgalley and @headofzeus for my ARC in exchange for my honest review 🖤

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Ashley Winstead has quickly become one of my favourite authors and the way she writes is incredible. I love both her thrillers and romance books so in my eyes she can do it all! This book is a very different tone to her previous thrillers but I love that she can tackle completely different topics in each of her books making them all so unique. Religion and community play a big part in this book and it may not be for everyone but I really enjoyed it. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling anything but I’m not the biggest fan of ambiguous endings so this would be the only thing I could critique but she even covers her reasons for doing this in the conversation with the author section.

Is it my favourite Ashley Winstead book? No. Would I recommend you read it? Absolutely, it’s a banger.

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The first book I've read by this author, I've been eager to try her books after seeing all the praise for her other books.

I went in blind, it's a a small town secrets mystery, set in the Louisiana swamplands. I was geared up for this after recently reading Jess Lourey's small town secrets books, and Anne Frasier's Savannah, Georgia set Elise Sandberg series.

Ruth is the preacher's daughter, Everett the son of the town drunk. Both outsiders, from opposite sides of the town's moral compass. It's the story of Ruth and Everett finding their way, coming of age, surviving, fighting back and investigating the secrets in the community, the church and the rumours of the occult.

It's dark, there's a list of trigger warnings. It's vividly atmospheric, hot and sticky humidity, there's wildlife and weather.

It's deep, dark and detailed, not the fastest book, but it held me transfixed. There's a lot going on, hidden secrets and a complexity in the relationships.

A book to really sink into and enjoy. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley and Aria & Aries, Head Of Zeus

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Another sizzling instalment by the author!

Rush Cornier is a librarian, living in the town of Bottom Springs and while her father is the pastor and holds significant power in the town, Ruth feels like an outsider. It doesn't help that she has befriended the man that the entire town consider an outcast, Everett Duncan.

One day, when the sheriff discovers a skull next to the swamp with carved symbols next to it, the town is in an uproar and the fictional legend of the Low Man, a figure that kills sinners, continues to swirl. But Ruth knows only too well that people aren't just good or evil, sometimes good people do bad things.

I did not expect the twists in this one and there were a handful that genuinely took me by surprise, which I always love! The pace was perfect and the author really knows how to create the suspense you need to keep the reader hooked. 4.5*
Dark and twisted, this was another one I thoroughly enjoyed.

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A look at how love, religion, fanatics and family affect lives. What it feels like to be a young girl who's life is driven by her religious fanatical parents. The hope given to Ruth by her best friend Ever.
Will they survive and conquer together?

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4.5 rounded up

I’ve been wanting to read a book by this author for a while and she’s acquired a new fan, what a book!

In Bottom Springs, South Louisiana, Pastor James Cornier holds these “God-fearing“ folks in the palm of his hand with his old school fire and brimstone preaching. His daughter Ruth, however, is a quiet outsider with a few friends but a closeness to fellow outsider Everett Duncan, the pair are united by secrets. When human remains are found in Starry Swamp it unleashes danger but also myths and legends especially of The Low Man. This is just the start of the darkness and evil that is to come.

I love how this story unfolds and what emerges sure is ugly. It’s a sort of seeker of justice novel where a “Bonnie“ meets “Clyde“, infused with elements of Twilight, one of Ruth’s favourite books, combined with an Old Testament biblical tale. It’s clever and multi layered with a setting that perfectly matches the events. Bottom Springs is a terrible place, it has a veneer of godliness, but it’s the narrow-minded, blindness of faith kind and hypocrisy doesn’t quite cover it. Reverend Cornier and his unholy alliance of cronies stride like giant Colossus wielding such power they create a scary climate of fear. His portrayal is startlingly good and you are able to see him in all his horrifying glory. Add in mediaeval attitudes and the nightmarish legends of The Low Man and you have a tinderbox scenario. Southern Louisiana lends itself to just the right atmosphere too. Its spooky, ghostly, creepy and a sort of swampy, evil, Grimms fairytale emerges. It’s tension fuelled and full of suspense, the hold your breath kind. It’s twisted and twisty right from the start, you expect certain things to happen but you’re constantly being surprised and tested. The levels of danger build and build and you’re just waiting for it to erupt into heaven knows what, except it won’t be heavenly.

What of Ruth and Everett? I love these two and I love their story, which is told in a nonlinear format which works so well allowing you to grow in understanding of their bond. Their friendship and their survival in the face of such darkness is emotional in places as what they confront is so unjust.
They are righters of wrongs though not necessarily following the path of the righteous. The ending is superb.

This is a very darkly different immersive and utterly compelling mystery/thriller with a few elements of horror. I loved it.

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Aria and Aries for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

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#MidnightIsTheDarkestHour #NetGalley
Awesome thriller.
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.
If you loved A Flicker In The Dark then you're in for a ride.
Thanks to NetGalley and Aria & Aries - Head Of Zeus for giving me an advance copy.

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Wow. I just finished reading this and I'm pretty speechless. The ending just made me very like HUH? 🤣. This is my first Ashley Winstead book and I've heard great things about her. I'm happy I got to read this as it's so different to other thrillers. It's uncomfortable and unsettling at times but also has this gothic vibe even though a lot of religion is involved. I love Ruth and Evers friendship and all the Twilight references!
I hated a few characters like I should have because they were just awful lol. I loved the darkness at times and confessions. I did feel like at times it felt too slow but I still enjoyed it!

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This dark story opens with the discovery of a skull in the swamp and feelings of oppressive suffocating darkness enveloping a small community. Ruth is very much ill at ease with herself and her situation. the community is haunted by myths and menace and her father does not help with the doom and gloom atmosphere. Librarian Ruth embarks on an adventure of love, religion on a search for true evil during the Bottom Springs uproar together with old friend Everett in the face of the terrifying figure of the Low Man, a haunting vampiric menace as they seek to solve the mystery of the carved symbols. A gripping, thrilling ride!

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What an ending! I’m not going to stop thinking about this book! What happens when a pastors daughter and the “devils” son become friends? Evil comes to bottom springs in the form of The Low Man, but no one knows who he really is, secrets bind the town together until someone battles to tell the truth.
This book was an interestingly woven thriller with a hint of horror leading you to question is there something more going on than just accidental deaths.
Absolutely ended up loving Ruth and Everette’s friendship and how the both slowly learn to discover the truths about the town they’ve grown up in.
Midnight Is the Darkest Hour had me hooked, I didn’t want to stop reading and needed to know just how one twist after the other was going to work out. A dark thriller that really makes you question how far would you go to discover the truth and who would you hurt in the process?
Stunningly written with characters you grow to love and hate. You won’t regret reading it!

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Thanks to Netgalley, Head of Zeus Publishing and of course the wonderful Ashley Winstead for an advanced e-reader copy of Midnight is the Darkest Hour. I devoured this novel in two days and wholeheartedly recommend adding this to your Autumn TBR when it's released on October 12th!

Set in the little town of Bottom Springs, Louisiana this gothic twisted tale of friendship, love and fear is gripping from the first chapter.

When a skull is found in Starry Swamp by the towns sherrif, we find that many secrets are hidden in the murky depths of a god fearing town; not least the secrets of Pastor Cornier's Daughter Ruth and her friend Everett Duncan - both of whom feel like they are outsiders in this world.

Told from Ruth's point of view and across a split now and then timeline, the world crafted by Ashley is breathtaking. I could easily imagine myself in the dark looming forests surrounding Bottom Springs. I love how Ashley writes female characters, and how the power is in their handsThe story is well paced and thoroughly engaging with little breadcrumb trails to the twists! The religious and occult elements were well written; the characters were relatable and I couldnt help but fall in love with Ruth and Ever

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Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy. Mysterious and hauntingly beautiful.
I really enjoyed Ashley Winstead’s previous book, In My Dreams I Hold A Knife, so as soon as I saw this book I was on a high. A great read for Halloween for those that are looking for a non-fantasy option, it still had plenty of boogeymen, just the more realistic kind. There’s nothing scarier than people who weaponise religion.
We follow Ruth, a quiet, naive, preacher’s daughter who befriends a boy named Ever(ett) whose father is known in town as the devil. When a skull is dredged up from the swamp, Ruth & Ever may just know to whom it belongs…
For fans of Where the Crawdads Sing, or if you’ve ever read anything by April G. Tucholke, this is a darker story that peels back the hidden truths most people are too scared to accept.

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Thank you Netgalley and Aria & Aries for this ARC. Available 12th October 2023.

What happens when in small town Bottom Springs the daughter of the town Reverend and the son of the town drunk become best friends?!
A dark, disturbing twisty storyline that had me hooked from the start.
When bodies start piling up everything starts to unravel in this gripping creepy thriller.
The characters were superbly written and developed nicely throughout the book. I loved Ruth and I loved Everett even more.

This was my first time reading an Ashley Winstead book and it won’t be my last.
Super impressed.

Highly recommend.

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Midnight is the darkest hour by Ashley Winstead was one of my most anticipated releases of 2023 so I was thrilled to receive an advance copy. This did not disappoint! From the start I was hooked by the atmospheric setting and the dark secrets of the town.
I loved all the twilight references and was really rooting for the main characters. A compelling story about friendships, love, family and faith.
Whether you love or hate the ending, I doubt it will be what you expected.
Thanks to Head of Zeus and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this wonderful book

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Midnight is the darkest hour from Ashley Winstead is the first book from the author that I have read. I will be honest with you before reading this book I had not heard of the author before and didn’t realise how popular she was until I discovered reading about her other books on Goodreads. I was blown away from how good this book is, and it will not be my last.
Ruth Coriner leaves in a small town called Bottom Springs in Louisiana. Her father is the local Pastor and religion is everything in the small town. Because of this she is treated differently by her peers. Ruth feels stifled in the small town and hopes for a different life than she is presently living. So, when she meets Everett, also an outsider in the town a relationship forms when they body experience a traumatic event. Years later a skull in the nearby swamp is found by the local sheriff, with symbols carved in the trees surrounding it. Which symbolises a religious cult. They both decide to investigate and find what went on and what evil lies in the small town of Bottom springs.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book so much. This is superbly written coming of age story of Ruth and a story of good and evil. This has a unique storyline, but it did slightly remind me of When the Crawdads sing, and it would make a great film. The only disappointment of this fab story was the ending. I felt a bit robbed after investing time in this long book. 5 stars from me.

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Another brilliant book by Ashley Winstead!
I was gripped right from the start and I just couldn’t put it down! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book.

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WOW! This book was fantastic.
I loved the small town vibes and how beautifully the author described the town and the nature surrounding it.
The story itself was unique, atmospheric and shocking. It wasn't at all what I thougt it would be and it far surpassed my expectations. It's also very different from Ashley's other novels: In My Dreams I Hold a Knife and The Last Housewife.

This book had it all. It was beautifully written, the characters were interesting and mysterious with real depth.
The relationship with Ruth and Everett was intense and heart-wrenching.
Midnight is the Darkest Hour will definitely be in my books of the year.

I love how diverse and unique Ashley's stories are. She is fast becoming a favourite author of mine and I'll be eagerly awaiting her next book.

5 well earned stars from me. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Midnight is the Darkest Hour by
Ashley Winstead


Here we find ourselves transported to the small town of Bottom Springs, Louisiana, an isolated swampland said to be haunted by a mythic figure named The Low Man. Ruth Cornier, now 23 years old, has lived here all her life. A librarian who is also the pastors daughter, Ruth, on the surface is a stereotypical ‘good girl’, a pious girl, a girl who lives by the Bible. But Ruth has secrets that bind her to the town bad boy, the mysterious Everett.
In the present day, the apparent peace of Bottom Springs is rocked when a skull is unearthed from the swamps. But who does it belong to? Why is it there? And what connection does it have to Ruth and Everett?

I could not put this one down! I have loved all of Winstead’s novels so far and I’m pleased to report that this one does not disappoint! This is her strongest since In My Dreams I Hold A Knife. Midnight is the Darkest Hour has a bit of everything. It’s an intense thriller that deals with spiritualism, a love story, mystery, and murder. It encompasses so much of what I really enjoy in a book: a woman’s POV; two timelines; a well-drawn setting; a dark storyline; shocking twists; and so much more.
Goodreads accurately describes it as ‘Where the Crawdad’s Sing meets Twilight’. If you’re a fan of either of these you will love the atmosphere and characters here!

I could not recommend this one more.
If you pick up any thriller this autumn, make it Midnight is the Darkest Hour! 🌙

Thank you so much to the Aria and Aries team at @headofzeus for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts! This one has been a delight to read and review!

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🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 utterly fabulous!

This is one of my favourite books this year! I loved Ruth and Everett! There relationship was so dark and mysterious. This was so well written and the scene setting had me right there.
Parts had me on the edgy of my seat. I honestly hated to put this down. Even for a minute and i found myself thinking, ooh i cant wait to get back to the story to see what happens next!
Did i say i loved this?!
The more we get into the story the darker it gets and it was a thrilling journey.

I would say this was flawless to me. The way everything was described, character and story progression... it ticks all the boxes for an amazing read!

Many thanks to Ashleigh Winstead, Aria&Aries, Head of Zeus publishers through Netgalley for a DRC. It was a pleasure to read and leave my review.

Publication date 12/10/23 Grab your copy for a brilliant Halloween read! 🌟

Dee- Review written 20/9/23

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Unsettling and disturbing. This southern gothic kept me on edge. Ruth, a twentysomething, is the daughter of the local preacher who also holds the power over the little city. He founded a fundamental church and everybody admires him. Ruth feels like an outsider. Her only friend is the town’s outcast. When a skull is found in the swamp a search begins to find out what happened to that man. Then another skull is found and rumours about a serial killer or the mystical local boogeyman called the Low Man begins to spread among the townsfolk. But Ruth has her own secrets to keep. Soon there is a manhunt going on and Ruth is right at the center of it.

Seems I have a new author to put on my favourite-writer-list. This is my second book from Ashley Winstead. I liked “In My Dreams I hold A Knife” but I was absolutely captivated by this one. It gave me a strange and unsettling feeling. I liked the unlikely and weird friendship between Ruth and Everett. They are bound by secrets and lies and love and being different and their different moral sights. At first I thought the story was set in the past because the thing with the fundamental church felt so anachronistic but it is actually set in the present. Ruth tries to live up to her father’s high expectations of her being a good girl and a devoted Christian. But when she finds the book “Twilight” (I never read the Twilight-Saga but loved that it triggered Ruth in so many ways) in her local library she discovers that she has also a dark side (a very very dark side) and different desires to what her father wants her to feel. I would like to say much more but I would wander into spoiler territory and I don’t want to ruin this book for you. I loved the writing and the differentness of the story. It is a very unusual book and I savoured it. Even the ending could not ruin it for me. In fact, it suits this weird story.

If you want to read something different and good, go for this book!

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Midnight is the Darkest Hour is an outstanding book! Well written, unpredictable and immersive it keeps you hooked throughout. It’s never cliché and deals with some very heavy themes (do check the trigger warnings it is quite disturbing) exploring the darkest depths of people. It strikes an incredible balance between excitement and shock, inter personal relationships, longing and control and southern - especially religious - themes. One of my best reads this year, a class above the rest.

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This book, oh my goodness, it's a heart-gripping masterpiece! Normally, I steer clear of revenge plots, but this one had me completely hooked. I was on an emotional rollercoaster from the first page, and I didn't want it to end.

The way it painted life in that small town, where everyone knew everyone, yet darkness and secrets lurked beneath the surface, was both enchanting and deeply unsettling. It made me feel the complexity of human relationships in my bones.

And the characters, they became like dear friends. I laughed with them, cried for them, and my heart soared with their triumphs. This book has become the absolute highlight of my fall reading list, and the season has only just begun.

That Twilight reference, it was like a secret thread that wove through the story, reminding me of the power of love and how it can be both a temptation and a lifeline.

In conclusion, this book was an emotional whirlwind, a moving exploration of the human condition, and an unforgettable journey that has left me deeply touched. It's not just a must-read; it's a must-feel.

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Ive enjoyed all the bookd i have read by Ashley winstead including this one. I love how she writes and how on edge she makes me feel whilst I'm immersed in her books.

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This is the third thriller from Ashley Winstead and they are all so different from one another, but I have loved each of them. This one is a gothic psychological thriller - heavy with religion, the occult, paranoia, and tension. I loved the building up on tension and escalating hysteria within the town, it was palpable and I could feel it simmering below the surface with each new discovery or incident. This was a very atmospheric read, at times uncomfortable and it felt claustrophobic with how small minded the towns people were and how controlling the people in power were. I loved the supernatural vibes in this one - it made you really consider if the bigger evil was some sort of demon/devil or if man was the true evil.

Thank you to NetGalley and SourceBooks for my digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Well after this book I am convinced. I will read anything Ashley Winstead writes, even her grocery list.

In the little town of Bottom Springs fear is growing among the God fiering residents. When a body is discovered in the swamp they are sure the stories are true. The Low Men, a demon is coming for the soul of the town and all who inhabit it!

Our main character Ruth is quite something. Local librarian, twilight fan, but most of all daughter of the popular preacher. Besides that she is best friends with Everett, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. A boy they call the devils son... not a good name to have in a town were God rules and fear is at the rise.

I fell in love with Everett from the very first minute. And the atmosphere in this book is just off the charts. The mystery, the touch of horror and the cross over with Twilight. So so good! Go read it! Go Read it now!

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Bottom Springs is a beautiful, Southern rural town, with expansive stunning skies, and wildlife aplenty; but Bottom Springs is also a God-fearing town, in a fire and brimstone style. A place of opposites, contradictions, paradoxes, the beauty of the natural world, blended with the ugliness of humankind, in the name of a higher authority. The sort of place I would fight tooth and nail to escape.

We have two main characters, Ruth and Everett. I could liken them to other pairs of literary characters, but that would give an inkling of the plot away.
Ruth Cornier, shy, lonely; the only child of the great Reverend James Cornier, pastor of The Holy Fire Born Again. Someone who has been trained, schooled, bullied into obedience, servitude, submission. All her life she has tried to please her parents, to be loved and to feel good enough. She wants to read, to learn, to have a free mind, but her path as a wife and a child bearer await her.
Everett Duncan, what a character. A soul who has only known pain, both mental and physical. Is he dangerous and damaged, an inevitable product of his parents? Or is he the most honest person in Bottom Springs, able and willing to see through the veneers others show to the world? The answer depends on who you ask.

Suspicion and folklore featuring evil spirits are rife. The Low Man preys upon sinners, seeking his own brand of justice after dark. The residents are so brain washed, so afraid of legend of The Low Man, they don’t see who they truly should be scared of.
This book is full of that Deep South vibe, that made my skin crawl.
Vengeance, entrenched beliefs, Hell and eternal damnation are constant repetitive themes.

The further the story progressed, my unease amplified, the more invested I became. The constant, heavy heat, matches the dripping, oppressive tension that runs through the pages. There are so many issues covered, so please read the author’s trigger list before starting to read.

This book is about hate, control and fear, filled with dark intensity; but I choose to view it through the lens of love, and the sacrifices made for true love.
5 twisted ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ from me.

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I don't know if I've ever said this, but I'm obsessed with anything by Ashley Winstead. And Midnight is the Darkest Hour did not disappoint. The book follows Ruth Cornier, the pastor's daughter in a small Louisiana town where religion (or rather, the pastor's religion) rules all. Ruth is a quiet, unassuming teenager in every other chapter, striking her own small flames of rebellion with an attachment to Twilight (and God, did that bring memories of being a teenager in the Twilight era), and she's a quiet, unassuming adult in other chapters, facing the internal consequences of actions she and her best friend, Everett, the town outcast, committed as children. The book explores the fundamentalism that religion brings, especially in such an insular society, but doesn't shy away from the dark underbelly that religion often hides. There's secrets and lies and sins hiding in all the corners, and Ruth's attempts to uncover the corruption was monumental fun, as well as contend with her fraught but tender relationship with Everett and her attempts to free herself from the yoke of her abusive, controlling parents. I couldn't say enough good things about this book. One of my favourite reads of all year!

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Midnight is the Darkest Hour is Thelma and Louise meets Midnight Mass meets Twilight and it dragged me by my hair out of the depths of my reading slump. From the first page I struggled to put it down. Having been a fan of In My Dreams I Hold a Knife, I was shocked that I loved Midnight just as much (maybe even more). I loved the Twilight references, I loved the Southern Gothic elements (which is something I don't normally gravitate towards), I loved the background romance and learning about all the secrets of the town.
I would personally go into it expecting more of a thriller than a mystery and I can foresee the ending being quite divisive. Definitely a fun thriller to pick up in the sacred month of Halloween!

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I loved this book so much! I loved both of our main characters, Ruth's character development was amazing. This was the first book in a long time that I didn't want to stop reading. Normally I don't really get excited by stories that deal with themes like religion and mystical creatures, but this was different. I'm really grateful that I got to read the ARC and highly recommend it! Now I have to read all the other books Ashley Winstead has published!

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Twisty, dark and gripping. I fell in love with Ashleys writing style during her previous novel, In My Dreams I Hold A Knife. This? On track to becoming my favourite book of 2023. You NEED to read it!

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