Joe Hill returns with his second short story collection, Full Throttle.
Of the thirteen stories included, only two of them are new and exclusive to the collection (“Late Returns” & “Mums”). I had previously read three of the remaining eleven (“Faun”, “Thumbprint” and “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead”), which left me with 10 new (to me) stories to read. When all was said and done, I felt I came away for the most part with a hodgepodge of good and “just OK” reads.
In my opinion, the standouts were “Dark Carousel” and “Late Returns” with the latter being the best of the bunch. “Late Returns” especially felt like something his father would have written. It follows a man who returns to his hometown to clean out his parents’ home following their deaths. Having lost his job as a long-haul trucker, he takes a job as a driver for the local library’s bookmobile and before long, begins encountering ghosts from the past looking to check out books. This was especially touching and makes me want to read a longer form novel like this from Hill where it deals in the supernatural, but doesn’t necessarily get caught up in the horror of it all.
There were a few that really didn’t do anything for me. I didn’t much care for the book’s namesake, “Throttle” – an action-packed nightmare of a scenario he wrote with Stephen King that follows an eighteen wheeler as it chases down bilkers on a deserted highway. A few others like “Wolverton Station” and “By The Silver Water of Lake Champlain” left me feeling bored and uninspired. “Faun”, which was included in the short story collection, “At Home In the Dark” is a solid read and a standout from that aforementioned collection.
I don’t think this is Hill’s strongest work, but I wouldn’t recommend that you skip it. There are some great stories in here that I would definitely suggest checking out. I’m surprised there isn’t a sticker or advertisement on the cover pointing out that “In The Tall Grass” is included in the collection given that it’s a recently released Netflix adaptation. However, seeing the reviews and reception it’s been getting, maybe that’s a good thing.