Publication Date: 7th November from Gollancz
Four short novels from the author of THE FIREMAN and HORNS, ranging from creepy horror to powerful explorations of our modern society.
A quite simply brilliant collection of stories here from the pen of Joe Hill – peripherally linked by the “Strange Weather” of the title, we get four very different, utterly compelling, some downright scary tales, all beautifully written and all filled with a slow burn tension that really puts you right on edge.
In “Snapshot” we meet a terrifying construct and the young lad who faces down his demons during one heck of a storm – one I think fans of “Stranger Things” will most definitely adore, this was the closest in style to his famous father but with Joe Hill’s indomitably unique character growth. All delivered in a shorter, more concise short that I would also say was the story that perhaps stood apart from the rest in that loose connectivity. If you’ve ever had a relative with a certain illness that I won’t disclose so no spoilers you’ll get an emotional tug on the heartstrings along with a great big scare. I read this then slept with the lights on and that’s not even an exaggeration.
Then we get “Loaded” – a more apt title I have never seen, here there be guns, an allegorical and truly thought provoking story where you can see what is coming but are helpless to stop it – for some reason this one made me cry actual tears and the ending is one that will linger in your mind for hours, nay days afterwards. Cleverly insightful writing, understanding exactly how to push the readers buttons and make them consider things outside of themselves Loaded is probably the stand out in this collection.
Possibly to give us a slight break from the huge book trauma, next up is “Aloft” heading into the arena of fantasy in lots of ways wherein one man’s skydiving experience turns into something very different. I loved this one for its quirky styling and for it’s main protagonist who was engaging and fun to live with for a while, especially given his rather unusual circumstances for the majority of the telling.
Last but by no means least is “Rain” – although this rain is no type of rain you would like to be caught out in – the final story (I’m reading the UK edition I don’t know if these will be in the same order everywhere but for me this order worked so brilliantly) takes us down an apocalyptic path but with certain differences, for me a perfect finale because it’s like you’ve come full circle back to the type of thing you now expect and need from Joe Hill – characters thrown into an untenable situation and how they react and respond – with a hint of horror and a lot of human nature.
All in all a simply fabulous set of stories. I took different things from all of them, every one a perfect little gem – all are long enough to be fully fleshed out but short enough to read in an afternoon, I definitely won’t be the only reader coming out of this one hoping that we see, in the future, lots more short collections from this author over the years – as well, of course, as a whole lot more of his epics. A perfect introduction to the writing if you haven’t read him before and an utter delight for those who are already constant readers.