Strange Weather : Four Short Novels
by Hill, Joe

Four short novels by a master horror writer explore classic literary themes through the darkness of the supernatural.

*Starred Review* Hill is back with a collection of four short novels that each showcases his talent for mining modern lives for fear. As he notes in the collection's afterword, tales of horror and fantasy thrive at a shorter length, and readers will be vigorously nodding their heads in agreement. These novellas present a foreboding and unsettling view of our world and contain complex and complicated casts of diverse characters. In "Snapshot," a grown man looks back on a summer gone by when he found a Polaroid that steals rather than preserves memories; in "Loaded," Hill writes his impassioned, heartbreaking, and compulsively readable response to the Sandy Hook tragedy. "Aloft" is a sinister fairy tale about a macabre world hiding on top of a cloud; and in the final novella, "Rain," set in the present time, the apocalypse comes as showers of shiny crystal nails pelt the Earth. These tales are terrifying and compelling, filled with intense anxiety throughout, but it is that final story, set entirely in the real world, that is the most menacing of the bunch. After getting two 700-plus-page novels in a row, fans will be thrilled to take in Hill's malevolent mind through these masterfully crafted single-sitting reads reminiscent of the very best of the short works by giants of the form like King, Gaiman, and Miéville. Hill is not only maturing as a writer of relevantly chilling tales but he is also emerging as a distinct voice for our complicated times. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Horrormeister Hill (The Fireman, 2016) offers a four-pack of mayhem in this sparkling collection of short novels.Think climate change is bad now? Just wait until those obsidian-sharp blades of rain cut you to pieces come the next storm. Hill, son of Stephen King, has his father's eye for those climacteric moments when the ordinary turns into the extraordinary—and the sinister to boot. In Rain, a warm Colorado day turns nasty when silver and gold needles begin to pour down. Hill's narrator, ever the helpful neighbor, watches as they rip a woman to shreds: "Her crinkly silver gown was jerked this way and that on her body, as if invisible dogs were fighting over it." Memorable but icky, that. In such circumstances, you can bet that the ordinary norms don't hold; give humans an emergency dire enough, and civil society collapses, presto! So it is in Loaded when a Florida shopping mall becomes the playground of a shooter unusual in more ways than one; what gives the story, wh ich is altogether too probable, creepy luster is the dancing cyclonic firestorm that's heading toward the mall, which may have been what prompted the security-guard protagonist of the tale to add to the death count without the intercession of any apparent conscience. Hill squeezes in some nice pop-culture references along the way, including one to a namesake: "Finally the kid who looked like Jonah Hill had entered the shop, and the shooter, with her dying breath, had put a bullet in his fat, foolish face." Icky again—as it should be for a horror honcho. In homage to "The Illustrated Man," perhaps, in Snapshot Hill imagines an ancient mariner sort of psychopath whose Phoenician-script tats invite onlookers to run away but instead lure them in, the easier for him to tinker with their memories, while Aloft is a pitch-perfect fable that blends Ted Chiang and Aristophanes into an eerie delight. Worth waiting in line for, if you're a Hill fan. If you're not, this is the book to turn you into one. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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