To say Joe Hill is the next Stephen King is no surprise: he’s King’s son, after all. And it says great things about him because Hill writes fantastic horror stories (long and short), the same way his father did. But it also means that any time I read a book by Hill, aside from the absolutely brilliant Locke and Key series, I’m also wondering when he’ll find his own voice, and branch out a bit more from his father’s footsteps.
That being said, Hill is nothing but enjoyable to read and he shines in this collection of short stories, where clever premises and older plots with a twist are combined.
Strange Weather is a collection of four short novels. At almost 500 pages, that means each novel is fairly long. I enjoyed the three I read: the last story focuses on a rain of needles that embed in people’s bodies, and I’ve got enough of a phobia about things embedded in the skin that I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. The other three were quick reads, the kind of thing you don’t want to put down. One story is an alternative view of memory loss, with a monster straight out of a King book. Another involves a world in the clouds and a young protagonist who is alternately sympathetic and infuriating. And the best of the bunch is a reflection on gun culture, media frenzy, misogyny, and racism. While there is a central villain, you can’t help but feel the real horror in that particular story is the very existence of guns. It’s very well done, despite or perhaps because of the fact that it doesn’t stop itself from being incredibly grim.
If you’re a fan of Hill or haven’t ever read Hill but are a fan of King, I definitely recommend this one. However, if you’ve never read Hill before, start with Locke and Key instead.