on September 3, 2007
Joe Hill has a lot stacked against him... The advance press and the expectations generated... A lot of horror fans know that many of the stories included here are already award winners... Whatever people feel should be delivered by the son of Stephen King... The fact that his first novel has already been optioned and is being turned into a big screen Hollywood movie...
But dammit, he delivers!
Although Heart Shaped Box, his aforementioned first novel, was published earlier this year, technically this compilation was his first published book. It was issued by PS Publishing, a small press in the UK over 2 years ago (thanks Peter!!!) and pulls together many of Joe's works that had been printed in magazines and anthologies.
These 16 stories (although only 15 are listed on the title page - you have to find the last one) include mention of ghosts, nasty people, dysfunctional families, perhaps idiot savants, killers and more.
Whether he is writing in the first or third person he finds a way to suck you into a story so that you can't get out until it's over. He's included tales about horror writers that scare you on their own, ghosts that stick around, inflatable kids and the impact left upon those that knew them once they're gone, kids that turn into giant, killing insects, the legacy of having a vampire hunter as a father, collectors of the odd and more.
You can tell that Joe was developing his style or voice as he wrote these works. One or two come to what you'd expect was the obvious ending... Some throw in a twist that you weren't expecting... But what stands out more than anything is the relationships between the characters in each story. Regardless of the premise, they're believable! You feel for everyone involved and you understand why.
That's rare, that's a gift! And whether Joe comes to it with his own voice, or having being exposed to his father's and adapting it for himself, I don't care! I like these stories and I want to see more.