Strange Weather

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Strange Weather is a collection of four novellas from acclaimed horror author Joe Hill.

Snapshot (previously published as Snapshot 1988)

The story follows a teen who bumps into a sinister man armed with a polaroid camera that he uses to steal the memories of those he shoots.  I liked this one quite a bit aside from the seemingly rushed confrontation between the protagonist and antagonist.  It probably has a lot to do with the setting, but it reads like a short story ripped out of one of his father’s short story collections (I hate the forced comparisons between Joe and his dad, but it’s hard to avoid when their styles are often indistinguishable from one another).

Loaded

This was my favorite of the four.  I’m an admitted crime fiction junkie and with “Loaded”, Hill brings the uncompromising brutality I love about the genre.  Loaded is a grim commentary on the state of gun violence in the US and although Hill isn’t saying anything new, it does not detract from the story’s effectiveness.  I can see people having a hard time with this as the violence and subject matter are extremely graphic and at times, difficult to stomach.

Aloft

The true heart of this story hides behind its unbelievable premise.  Aubrey’s skydiving adventure abruptly ends as he lands atop a cloud shortly after leaping from a plane.  With a texture similar to bread-dough, Aubrey explores and investigates the reason for the cloud’s existence.  While doing so, he recounts his complicated relationship with Harriet, a woman who along with his deceased friend June, formed a band that received some success prior to June’s untimely passing.

Rain

Joe described this one in the afterword as a spoof on his end-of-the-world epic, The Fireman.  Crystal-like shards varying in size from sewing needles to carrots rain down and unleash death and destruction first upon Boulder, Colorado and then across America.  No one knows for sure if it is a naturally occurring disaster, a punishment from God or a terrorist attack.  The bulk of the story follows a woman named Honeysuckle as she makes the difficult trek to Denver from Boulder to tell a father of his daughter’s passing.  Along the way she encounters cults, armed servicemen, dead circus animals and bludgeoned men and women pricked like porcupines along the side of the road.  I didn’t like this one as much, despite the fact that it seems like it is right up my alley.  It was a good story in and of itself, but I felt it didn’t quite measure up to the other three.

Joe Hill’s Strange Weather is a solid collection of stories that I enjoyed.  Joe is always going to get saddled with comparisons to his father (I’m doing it right now!), but I think this collection is the closest thing he’s produced to King’s work in storytelling and style.  If you’re already a fan of Hill’s work, you’ll be satisfied with his latest.

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