Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Also by this author: Welcome to Lovecraft
Published by William Morrow on October 24th 2017
A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill
“Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by “The Phoenician,” a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.
A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in “Aloft.”
On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. “Rain” explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.
In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.
Strange Weather is a collection of 4 short novels, each telling a unique story. They are all independent of one another, and could be read in any order. I may not rate this one quite as high as most of the works I’ve read by Hill, but I suspect most of that comes from my preference for longer works. The stories are quick and varied covering funny to horrifying to creepy and the main character in each are varied.
One aspect of these that some readers will love, but some may not is the endings can ;eave the reader just on the edge of “what happens next”. You can probably guess, for good or for bad, how the cards will fall, but Hill will leave you right on the precipice, giving the reader something to think about and let their own imagination fill in the details. This is something I have always enjoyed, I feel like endings like this make a book last a bit longer for me because I find myself thinking about the ending more than if every last detail had been provided. That said, I know not all readers love this type of ending as much as I do.
This has a serious throwback vibe and reminded me of my youth when Stephen King was about the only author I read. A mysterious “Polaroid Man”, who has a camera that takes more than just a picture. It is suspenseful and creepy and a bit mysterious.
OK, so this story has some interesting characters, and is initially told from several seemingly unrelated perspectives. One of these perspectives is seriously unhinged, which always makes for a pretty interesting read. The one commonality between the stories being told by the different perspectives is they all feature guns. The horror in this story does not come from some mysterious or unknown force, but rather from the humans and what some are capable of. For me, this is not really a story to be “enjoyed”, its uncomfortable, but I think that’s the point. It’s a story that I both loved and hated at the same time, and I think the reason for the “hate” is the topic and the violence are entirely too plausible and the fact that this is one that is entirely too close to real life. This is a story that really could happen and that is what makes it uncomfortable.
Aloft was a great follow up to Loaded because it starts out with some serious laugh out loud moments. That is exactly what I needed after the heaviness of Loaded. I particularly enjoyed the main character, Aubrey, who’s inner thoughts and narration provided some much needed comic relief. This story begins mid-flight for a skydiving. and while it may be lighter than the one before, but it provides its own type of fright. The story was definitely different and enjoyable.
Rain features a deady rain that causes thin deadly shards to fall. Getting caught in the rain does not just cause the inconvenience of getting wet, but rather, the unfortunate and unttimely death of those outside due to impalement by the falling spikes. It’s a horrifying situation.
Overall, I think this is a good set of stories. If forced to pick favorites, I’d probably have to go with Loaded and Aloft. I know I mentioned having a Love/Hate reaction to Loaded, but again, I think it’s because of the topic. I hate the violence caused by guns in the real world, which made this a harder read. But when it comes down to it, this story will likely stay with me the most and made me think more than the others, and for that reason, i still love it. I’d recommend the story for anyone who is a fan of Hill or anyone looking for some shorter horror novels.
Review originally posted on The Speculative Herald