Strange Weather: Four Short Novels

Strange Weather, Joe Hill's follow-up to his horror epics The Fireman and NOS4A2, is a collection of four novellas that celebrate the breadth of Hill's twisted imagination. Each brief novel can be read in a sitting or two, but are long enough to allow for Hill's expert characterization--carefully establishing sympathetic characters grounds the strange, nightmarish scenarios and insures the readers' investment in the torments that await each character.

In "Snapshot," lonely Michael Figlione looks out for his former babysitter, an older woman struggling with something like dementia. She claims that a man has been snapping Polaroids of her when her husband isn't watching, and Michael soon learns the disturbing truth. "Loaded" is more politically charged, ruminating on America's gun culture, racial inequities in policing and mass shootings. "Aloft" offers a fantastical story about a reluctant skydiver stranded on a bizarre cloud. It possesses a strange intelligence that the protagonist must puzzle out while sorting through his unrequited feelings for a friend. The less said about the premise, the better--unspooling the mystery is half the fun. Finally, "Rain" strikes an apocalyptic chord with its story of a devastating, nail-like rain that shreds anyone and anything unlucky enough to be outside when the storm breaks over Boulder.

Hill never shirks from delivering the gory goods for genre fans, but his horror is far from cynical. Instead, Hill finds striking, unusual ways to dramatize fears of aging and illness, guns, loneliness and grief. His intentions and limitless creativity are extremely well suited to short fiction, and one hopes that another collection is forthcoming. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

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