Ah, December is upon us fully now. Nights are longer, darker, and full of chills. If you’re not feeling it yet, maybe you need some artificial shivers instead?
Is a bio really needed? I mean, Joe Hill is pretty well known at this point. Though I do still encounter people who don’t know he’s Stephen King’s son.
His fiction includes the Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, NOS4A2, and The Fireman as well as the collections: 20th Century Ghosts and Strange Weather. You may also be familiar with his Lovecraftian comic book series Locke & Key, which won British Fantasy Awards in 2009 and 2012, and an Eisner Award in 2012. You can check out his website here and you should also check out my review of the Netflix movie based on his collaborative novella with his father: In The Tall Grass.
Strange Weather is a collection of four novellas: Snapshot, Loaded, Aloft, and Rain, which all orbit around the central theme of – drum roll – you guessed it: weather. The collection was released in the US in October, 2017. Here’s a quick synopsis on each novella:
- Snapshot: a teen discovers a strange being call “The Phoenician”: who can steal a person’s memories using a Polaroid camera.
- Loaded: a shooting goes down in a local mall but a man working as mall security puts a stop to it before it can go too far – until, that is, people begin looking too closely at his version of events.
- Aloft: a young man is on a plane, ready to do his very first parachute jump and, instead, lands on a solid cloud with a mind of its own.
- Rain: the clouds open up and rain down a deluge of razor-sharp crystals, killing anyone caught in it. In this strange apocalypse, a tale of heartbreak and revenge unfolds.
In Strange Weather, this “compelling chronicler of human nature’s continual war between good and evil,” (Providence Journal-Bulletin) who “pushes genre conventions to new extremes” (New York Times Book Review) deftly expose the darkness that lies just beneath the surface of everyday life. – description on Amazon
It’s going to be a little hard to speak to each novella while also protecting their endings so bear with me, readers!
Each novella was very unique and used the theme in a powerful way. By far, my favourite was Rain. Hill managed to create a powerful story about a world threatening apocalypse while also focusing on the smaller journey of a lone woman looking for answers. Of all four, I think it was the best. The idea was so, so unique and then, because the novella focusses on Honeysuckle as she tries to process her grief and anger, you get very emotional involved making for a tense, but rewarding read.
The other three were interesting in their own way but I can’t say they struck me as hard as Rain did. Loaded, I felt, was the weakest in the themed quartet. Also, it felt like the least unique compared to Rain, which incorporated death dealing rain, and Aloft, which had a sentient cloud.
In each though, I felt that Hill created very powerful and real characters, despite the shorter format of the pieces. And in all four pieces, I do feel like he created dense tapestries of rich emotion, suspense, and chilling events. And even though Loaded felt the weakest – to me – I do still recognize that it was well-written.
So, if you are looking for a good set of stories to read during this snowy (dependent on your location, of course) month, this is a good fit. Each story will draw you in and keep you entertained, but is also short enough to deliver a powerful punch quickly and efficiently so then you can put the book down between stories and go make sugar cookies or something.
x P.L. McMillan