Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
William Morrow (October 2017)
448 pages; $16.67 hardcover; $16.99 paperback; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

There’s something decidedly different about Joe Hill, besides the obvious relation. His novels and short stories defy categorization, often eschewing the conventions of horror and tropes of speculative fiction in favor of something much more… interesting.

Strange Weather fits the author perfectly, as each storm, each season that emanates from Hill speaks of a new world. One that is familiar, yet ill-fitted to what we consider reality. Comprised of four short novels (novellas, if you prefer), the worlds concocted by the author are far from perfect, the protagonists anything but sparkling beautiful people readers can root for, but all are still fascinating.

“Snapshot,” the first story, introduces readers to a boy who finds his elderly neighbor has her memories stolen by a man with a strange camera. The awkward teen attempts to foil the man’s plans and discovers something demented within the device, yet Hill manages to twist this story into something heartwrenching.

The second story could be the author’s anti-Second Amendment tale, at least for gun owners who have no redeeming qualities. A mall cop goes on an ill-advised shooting spree while trying to stop a killer. The unraveling of the character as his sad world crumbles is intriguing as readers may begin to root for the wrong side, whichever that should be.

“Aloft” is likely the oddest tale in Strange Weather, something that is more reminiscent of 20th Century Ghosts than his horror material. A man afraid of heights decides to try skydiving but manages to fall straight into a cloud, and remains there. An unusual setting, to say the least, it will challenge his fans to imagine the unimaginable but wholly entertaining.

Finally, “Rain” begins as sharp nail-like objects fall out of a Colorado sky, decimating people in a bloodbath. However, only in a Joe Hill story can this be just the tip of the iceberg. What ensues with the non-supernatural happens to be even stranger than the opening pages.

Hill’s style resonates as always: rich and full of imagery that will stick to the psyche, yet never obtuse or indulgent. His depictions of the everyday person and their lives must be in his genes, thankfully. However, Joe has an affinity for the weird that seems to be building with each release. That’s a wonderful thing.

As usual, highly recommended reading that will breeze by but leave a scar.

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