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Strange Weather: Four Novellas

Strange Weather: Four Novellas

Written by Joe Hill

Narrated by Joe Hill, Wil Wheaton and Dennis Boutsikaris


Strange Weather: Four Novellas

Written by Joe Hill

Narrated by Joe Hill, Wil Wheaton and Dennis Boutsikaris

ratings:
4/5 (95 ratings)
Length:
14 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Oct 24, 2017
ISBN:
9780062694447
Format:
Audiobook

Description

A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill.

"One of America's finest horror writers" (Time magazine), Joe Hill has been hailed among legendary talents such as Peter Straub, Neil Gaiman, and Jonathan Letham. In Strange Weather, this "compelling chronicler of human nature's continual war between good and evil," (Providence Journal-Bulletin) who "pushes genre conventions to new extremes" (New York Times Book Review) deftly expose the darkness that lies just beneath the surface of everyday life.

"Snapshot," performed by Wil Wheaton, is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by "The Phoenician," a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.

A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero's island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in "Aloft," performed by Dennis Boutsikaris.

On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. "Rain," performed by Kate Mulgrew, explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.

In "Loaded," performed by Stephen Lang, a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.

With an afterword from Joe Hill, read by the author.

Masterfully exploring classic literary themes through the prism of the supernatural, Strange Weather is a stellar collection from an artist who is "quite simply the best horror writer of our generation" (Michael Kortya).

Publisher:
Released:
Oct 24, 2017
ISBN:
9780062694447
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Joe Hill is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Heart-Shaped Box and Horns and writes an ongoing comic book series, Locke & Key. He makes lots of noise on Twitter under the handle @joe_hill.


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Reviews

What people think about Strange Weather

4.2
95 ratings / 34 Reviews
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Critic reviews

  • If you thought the number of nor'easters bringing snow in March was horrific, wait until you read "Strange Weather," a collection of new novellas from Joe Hill. Stay inside on a rainy day and have fun with these hellish storms.

    Scribd Editors

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    There is no doubt that Joe Hill is the descendent of Stephen King. His ability to suck you into a story is mesmerizing. This collection of 4 tales is another triumph overall. There is no doubt that Loaded and Rain are the two highlights given their political content and how that is currently reflected in America. Snapshot and Aloft are also entertaining, but serve as more of a relief from the devastation of the other two stories. A must read for all fans of good fiction.
  • (4/5)
    “Snapshot” - the Phoenician and his white Caddy and Solarid that takes thoughtographs. A good story that brought back a lot of 80’s memories for me. My problem was the ending. I felt like the story was drawn out too far. It should have ended, in my opinion, after chapter 18 or 19.“Loaded” - intertwining stories about guns, and ultimately, the descent of Rand Kellaway into madness. This is an awesome story, with an awesome ending! Really top notch! “Just think. If you had a gun,” ... “Aloft” was terrible. Not much more to say about it.“Rain” - has a great quote in it -“VOTING IS LIKE DRIVING: R GOES BACKWARD, D GOES FORWARD” The story is pretty good too, and pretty freaky considering what "rains" down. Story female lead character!So three outta four in this collection! And the illustrations are pretty sweet! Skip "Aloft", and you have a good read!
  • (4/5)
    This is a collection of four short horror novels which are well-written and generally entertaining. I found "Loaded" to be the best, mainly because it ended in the worst possible way. Authors will rarely take this tack when ending a story, but I really appreciate it when they have the guts to do it.
  • (3/5)
    SnapshotPerformed by Wil Wheaton.This story features a creepy man (The Phoenician) with a Polaroid camera that steals memories. A teenage boy stumbles across the man and becomes tangled up in his plan.The story is told from Michael’s memories of what happened. The narration is excellent; it was fun to listen to “Wesley Crusher” perform the story. The idea of a camera that steals memories by taking pictures is frightening. Hill relates it to Alzheimer’s in the way the Phoenician takes away pieces of the older woman’s memories and gradually destroys who she is. I liked that there wasn’t a simple fix. But I kept thinking the story was over and waiting for something cool to happen, and that was a bit of a letdown. (3 stars) LoadedPerformed by Stephen LangWith all the gun violence in our country, this one was hard to listen to. The story follows a mall shooting and how it affects the security guard involved. I liked the reporter character who helped figure out what really happened in the mall that day. But the story was a bit too dark for me and the ending didn’t help. (2 stars) AloftPerformed by Dennis BoutsikarisThis is a quirky story about a guy on his first skydiving excursion who somehow lands on a sentient cloud that doesn’t want to let him go. I have an open mind and appreciate fantasy as much as the next reader, but I didn’t love this story. The main problem was I couldn’t stand the main character. (2 stars) RainPerformed by Kate MulgrewIn this story, one day instead of water, it rains crystal nails that shred anyone who is left out in the open. Honeysuckle tries to find her girlfriend’s father and, in the process, finds clues leading to the cause of the deadly rain. I liked following Honeysuckle’s journey and her interactions with other survivors, but there were too many coincidences and the final conclusion seemed highly unlikely. I did enjoy the narrow scope of the story and how it focused on Honeysuckle’s journey as opposed to the effects of the overall apocalypse. I must say that I love Kate Mulgrew and will h
  • (5/5)
    I agree with what Hill writes in his afterword about short novels: I am drawn to them more and more, especially in the horror genre, as they seem to be just the right length for a scary tale, with space for characterization but also not losing their punch. This is a collection of four novellas by Hill. I'll review them in the order with which I liked them."Loaded": A gut punch of a story. There is nothing supernatural about it, yet it is the most horrific story in the collection. It's about the out-of-control spiral that can happen when a gun seems like the answer to every problem, and it's also a searing indictment of my country's love affair with guns."Rain": A chilling and unique end-of-the world scenario. What I really liked about this story was its narrative voice and also all the crazy characters that live on the narrator's street. "Snapshot": Isn't it funny that Stephen King also has a story about a supernatural Polaroid camera? This was an interesting concept, but I was left wanting something. I just didn't feel like the supernatural element was well enough explained for me to fully buy into it. Well-written, though."Aloft": Okay, this one was just weird. A guy who is sky-diving lands onto a sentient cloud, which then tries to keep him as some kind of pet. Bizarre.Overall, this was a great collection that I really enjoyed.
  • (3/5)
    I liked the first of these four novellas, "Snapshot" and the last, "Rain" but not the other two.
  • (5/5)
    Generally, books don't make me uncomfortable. Scary movies can scare me, creepy TV shows can make me creepy, but generally books don't have that affect. However...All four stories in Joe Hill's Strange Weather made me uncomfortable, each in their own specific, and different, ways. "Snapshot" creeped me out: a young boy is trying to find out why his elderly neighbor is losing her memories, only to discover that it is a tattooed man with a memory stealing camera to blame. The final confrontation, and what was discovered in the camera and its eventual use, will make you rethink today's technology. In "Loaded," a mall security cop stops a mass shooting, or does he? This one hits a little too close to home, given the current national crisis with gun violence. "Aloft" will make you look at clouds in a decidedly different light (are they watching back?). And finally "Rain," a terrorism story of a different kind, but one that again hit too close to home with too much death during a time period of my own personal loss over my mother and dogs. These stories left me uncomfortable in a variety of ways, but they also made me think, and both are signs of excellent writing. Hill continues to prove that he is just as adept a writer as his father, and in some ways he may be a stronger writer. King's short stories often hit with scare factor in overdrive, and while Hill's stories also do, they continue to have a heart and soul that I don't always find in King's work. (Hill's "20th Century Ghost" remains one of my all time favorite short stories.) While Hill gave himself more room to work in by writing novellas instead of short stories, he still manages to pack a remarkable amount of feeling into these stories. I honestly can't recommend this book more.
  • (5/5)
    It's obvious that this guy is the son of one of the most well known horror authors of all time. Joe Hill has that twisted imagination that is paramount to a good horror story. This collection of short stories is awesome and each of them is scary and well done. It is so nice to have the dynasty of horror continue with Joe Hill.
  • (4/5)
    After the disappointment of The Fireman, I am firmly back in the Joe Hill camp.

    But, um, Mr. Hill, maybe stop with the blatant call-outs to your dad? It honestly cheapens your work.
  • (4/5)
    Four well written novellas.This was a perfect example of a book I would never have read if it hadn't been for a book club - and our fabulous Lit Fest, next month, which Joe Hill will be attending. This is tagged as Science Fiction and Horror, and while I'd not be drawn to Sci Fi, I'd certainly shy away from Horror. Yet, these four novellas, published together under the umbrella title of Strange Weather, were not particularly scary and I found them weirdly interesting.I listened to the audio version, read by four different narrators, Stephen Lang, Wil Wheaton, Dennis Boutsikaris, and Kate Mulgrew, who all do an excellent job.There is a slim connection between three of the stories through weather, but only 'Rain' seemed to me to be truly connected to the weather. A storm is brewing for 'Loaded' (an anti-gun story - though to begin with I wondered if it was actually pro-gun) and a freak weather pattern presumably caused the cloud in 'Aloft'. I'm not sure how 'Snapshot' is connected though.I am left wondering how anyone would dream up such off-the-wall tales. I think my favourite story was the first one, 'Snapshot', suggesting that every time a photo was taken by The Phoenician, the subject lost a little more of their memory. Relating this to Alzheimer's Disease made for a thoughtful read. I also liked how I found myself gradually grasping what was going on.'Aloft' was my least favourite, largely because I got a bit confused and had to rewind several times to clarify what was going on. Maybe it just didn't lend itself so well to audio.All in all an interesting diversion from my usual reads and I look forward to hearing what the author has to say in March.
  • (4/5)
    Joe Hill delivers once again, with this collection of four novellas. My favorite was "Loaded", which was over 200 pages and did not deal with horror or the supernatural, but focused on the horror of gun culture and racial division. The last novella is called "Rain" and deals with climate change as it begins to rain down needles. This proved to me, that Hill can excel at writing about any topic. I have not been disappointed by him yet.
  • (5/5)
    Joe Hill's Strange Weather was an entertaining read. Each story well crafted and tight -- I love his writing. His dialogue is smooth and his pop culture references and visuals pull you into each story with a deceptive ease.I think he is one of the best writers out there today. You will not be disappointed in any piece of writing you pick up and this is no exception. He surpasses popular authors that he is compared to in every aspect -- mechanics, story, plot, characterization, dialogue, settings -- you name it. He makes every word count. Interesting ideas, great talent.
  • (5/5)
    I got this book for free from LibraryThing's Early Review program in exchange for an honest review. This is a collection of four short novels, very much in the vein of of his Dad's Different Seasons. These are four very interesting twilight zone-y stories. I don't really want to give too much away about each one, because they all unfold in very interesting ways, that I don't want to spoil. I will say that with a little bit of a slow patch in the fourth story that I got thru, these were all excellent.Snapshot - A young teen boy find's himself looking after his former nanny who is losing her mind and thinks there is a man who is taking her memories away.Loaded - A ex-military mall guard deals not so well with the break up of his family. That,l and guns, lots of guns.Aloft - My favorite. A shy introverted guy, and his crush are in a small plane to go skydiving to celebrate the life of their friend. It decidedly does not go according to plan. Very odd story.Rain - Climate change to the nth degreeA couple quotes that struck me.Snapshot - "When I set off for MIT at eighteen, I weighed 330 pounds. Six years later I was a buck-seventy. It wasn't exercise. It was fury. Resentment is a form of starvation. Resentment is the hunger strike for the soul."Rain - "Wouldn't that be a sad epitaph for the world? Democracy was cancelled on account of rain. The human season will be suspended until further notice."9/10S: 10/10/17 - 10/21/17 (12 Days)
  • (5/5)
    This might be one of my favorite short story collections and it may have beaten out The Fireman as my favorite Joe Hill book. I LOVED this collection. There are four short stories and all of them are simply amazing! I don't know which one I like the most? They are all so unique and inventive, and creepy, and all around insanely good. I know I'm gushing here, but I can't help fangirling all over this short story collection! It's money! There are four short novels in this collection. Snapshot made my skin crawl. A nerdy awkward teenager confront a man who owns a unique Polaroid camera that has the ability to erase your mind one snapshot at a time. Loaded will make you angry, it's a story we've all heard before, an innocent young black man was killed because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and "looked guilty." Fast forward two decades and the witness to that crime is about to see a whole other gun drama unfold before her eyes. It's gripping and the end is maddening. You won't be able to stop thinking about it.Aloft is about a skydiver who gets stuck on a cloud that is only trying to make friends. It's bizarre and imaginative and I LOVE the concept of this one! Rain reminded me so much of Kurt Vonnegut's, Cat's Cradle! Instead of Ice 9, the sky starts raining needles. Denver is very nearly obliterated. The badd ass lesbian heroine in this might be one of my favorite characters. All around great apocalyptic novel.Buy this. Read it. Talk to me about it. I'm in love!
  • (4/5)
    In Strange Weather, Joe Hill has offered up four twisty (and twisted) short novels. I like the way Mr. Hill writes his characters; they are both sympathetic and flawed. He doesn't use the short format as an excuse to scrimp on character-building. I enjoyed each of the stories, with their individualized plays on the "weather" theme, but I have to say, the ending of Loaded left me with my jaw hanging. I can easily see me going back to read this book again.
  • (4/5)
    It's easy to become a fan of Joe Hill. His novels and stories quickly pull you in with multi-dimensional characters and with simple premises that lead off into wonderful stories. Plus while you are reading the stories, you can see the ideas and fears that are at the heart of the story. Each of the short novels in this collection had me feeling different and intense emotions. Both "Snapshot" and "Loaded" are hard-hitting to the emotions. They should also be considered very bleak and dark. As Hill said in his Afterword, the short novel is often the right length for a horror story: long enough to build the characters into real people and short enough for the pedal to be on the floor the whole time without needing a breather. I eagerly look forward to reading NOS4A2, THE FIREMAN, and all future books by Hill."Snapshot" - This story hits on many fronts. Setting the story in 1988 meant that it could ride the 80s nostalgia wave that is currently hitting thanks to "Stranger Things", the movie remake of "It" and more. Personally it was early 80s instead of late when I was the same age as Michael Figlione, the protagonist, but still close enough to easily connect. My biggest connection point to the story though was the emotional aspect of getting older and forgetting. As I approached and hit 50 years old, it had been on my mind a lot. The story focuses on memory and forgetting, or rather having memories stolen. It's a simple idea and would fit perfectly as an episode of "The Twilight Zone" but Hill elevates it beyond that. Rather than ending it at a natural point, he lets the story continue to run. This infuses the story with more emotions and hits the reader harder instead of staying a more simple concept."Loaded" - This story starts as a bunch of mini-clips about guns. I wasn't sure exactly where it was going until I realized that the clips were connected, that they were background for the heart of the story. So once Hill got to the center of the story (a mass shooting in a local mall), the readers realizes that there was more to everything that happened previously. All the small pieces play into the big picture. Once the final act is hit and events elevated to the next level, the ending becomes that much more impactful. It was agony and heart-wrenching. The story is an emotional picture of the gun-control debate. Without picking a side, Hill was able to show how multi-faceted the topic really is."Aloft" - On a much lighter note, "e;Aloft" is about dreams. About living your life in the real-world and not up in the clouds. About making a decision on how you're going to live your life. Aubrey Griffen was going through life like many of us have: enjoying it and living it but with a secret fantasy that was really limiting his life. For Aubrey, it was a fantasy of getting that woman in his life who really isn't interested in him in that way. His hanging around and waiting for that to happen ends up with Aubrey jumping out of an airplane and landing on a cloud. The story is rich in symbolism and ripe to be analyzed in a creative writing class. Personally I hope that Aubrey shows up in some other Joe Hill story, just so we can see the decisions he made in his new life."Rain" - The collection closes with a story about the apocalypse. It's an extremely modern story about death raining down from above and how people deal with it. The lesbian protagonist is on a journey to do the right thing by telling her girlfriend's father about the death of his wife and daughter. Along the way she deals with crazy members from a cult, a MMA fighter who owes her a favor, and bigotry from "normal"neighbors, all while in the background the President tweets his threats to ISIS and others. Underneath the covers, the story is about loneliness, about finding your family, about making your family, or simply making others lonely too. But this time, the symbolism is much more subtle. It's something that nibbles on your subconscious instead of taking a big bite.
  • (4/5)
    Strange Weather is a collection of novellas by horror writer Joe Hill. Unlike many collections, this isn't just a group of stuff he wrote, but nor is it inter-linked in any way except that weather plays some role in the plot. The novellas are also nothing alike: the first, Snapshot is horror in the style of his father, from the adolescent protagonist, to the clear depiction of a specific time and place, to the creepy and imaginative evil dude. Loaded was the best of the bunch, without an ounce of the supernatural, it was easily the most terrifying in the bunch. The ending was horrible and perfect at once. The third, Aloft has a terrified young man's first parachute jump go horribly awry. This one's got aliens of a sort and a more prosaic (and to me more interesting) story at its heart. The last story, Rain is an apocalyptic story that obeyed all the usual tropes of that over-written genre, but felt fresh and new. This is an excellent collection that really shows that Hill is a writer who is a master of his craft.
  • (4/5)
    Joe Hill is at his best in these condensed and creepy short novels. No unnecessary sentences, just pure excitement from one story to the next. Aloft has its issues, but the other three make up for it twofold.
  • (4/5)
    I generally enjoy Hill's books, so I requested this through ER as soon as I saw it. It's a collection of four short novels, so I might as well look at each short novel individually.The first of the stories is "Snapshot." It's about a young man who finds the woman who babysat him in his younger days wandering the streets seemingly suffering from Alzheimer's (or some similar disease). However, she warns him of a Polaroid Man who is stealing her memories by taking her photo, and not surprisingly, there is a man with a magical camera stealing people's memories. I really enjoyed this one, and it reminded me of some of King's shorter works.The second story is "Loaded," and that's where I really felt like the anthology started bogging down. It's a sort of mystery about a mall cop who supposedly stopped a mass shooting, but really didn't and a reporter looking into the matter. Unfortunately, Hill spent 30+ pages giving us the backstories of the reporter, the mall cop, and the shooter, and most of it could (and should) have been cut. Then we see the shooting, so there's no actual mystery for us as the reporter looks into the crime. I found this whole thing really boring until the last few pages when the mall cop snaps under the pressure of the investigation and goes on a killing spree.The third story is "Aloft," which was weird, but I still liked it. It's about a man who's going skydiving as part of the last request of a bandmate who recently died of cancer. On the way down, the guy lands on a cloud and can't get off of it. It's not all bad, since the cloud can produce anything he wants, only the stuff it produces is made of cloud, so he can't eat or drink it. It's as much about him thinking about his relationship with his other bandmate as it is with him trying to get off of the cloud, which made it probably my favorite story of the book.The final story if "Rain," which reminded me of Carlton Mellick's Sweet Story, which I read earlier in the year, only instead of raining candy, it rains crystals. It's about a lesbian who witness her girlfriend and her girlfriend's mother dying in the first of these crystal rains. Then she sets out on a 30 mile trip to let her girlfriend's father know what happened, and then she comes back home. Things aren't apocalyptic enough to make the trip particularly gripping, but I found the characters interesting enough that I didn't hate the story even though the weak plot kept me from really loving it.It's not a terrible collection. I'd say two of the stories were really good, one was ok, and one was kind of bad, but not terrible. It's probably worth getting for horror fans.
  • (4/5)
    I couldn't have been more thrilled to receive this book as part of the LT early reviewer program. Being quite a fan of Hill's other works I would have picked this one up as well, but was lucky enough to get the advanced copy. The fort short novels included were all well executed and grabbed hold of the imagination immediately. Each of the 4 has it's own tenor and genre -- Rain being a straight up apocalyptic thriller, Aloft more of an alien fantasy, Loaded a terrible story that looks into the psyche of a madman with a gun, and my favorite, Snapshot a mix between coming of age drama and demonic good verses evil. As always, Joe Hill brings characters to life and the shorter lengths make for quick immersive reading. My only complaint is I wish there were more! Read this book!
  • (5/5)
    I recieved this book as an ER. Strange Weather would make a fantastic "Creepshow" setup. It is four short stories that are about as long as a short story can be and not be a stand alone book. 'Snapshot', 'Loaded', 'Aloft' and 'Rain'. You have your superstition story; photos capture your sole type of fear. Then you have your scary because it could happen anywhere. The monster is a potentially real person. Next is your Sci-fi. Finally a dystopic Sci-fi. I thought Snapshot was my favorite, because I actually started a short story about polaroid cameras long ago. It is a common concept for people, I think. Rain was unique and unpredictable. Great book. I spoke with someone about Joe Hill's writing style (we were talking about Horns) and my friend said Joe's writing makes his skin crawl. I agree, but I would say that the method that he writes gets under my skin, like goose bumps all over.
  • (5/5)
    This was a very creative bunch of separate stories all coming together to form one big story. I really love Joe Hill's creativity and writing style, and this is another great to go in his list of greats. Definitely worth a read.
  • (5/5)
    Good book from another author with disagreeable political views. The little tid bits aren’t TOO annoying.
  • (4/5)
    This was about 1/2 and 1/2 for me. Out of the 4 stories, the two that stood out for me were Snap Shot and Aloft. The other two were ok, didn't really hold my interest as much as Snap Shot and Aloft.
  • (4/5)
    I read one story a year on Halloween as tradition. The first story is quite excellent, the second is good but is a tenuous tie in to the theme of the collection. Pretty much everything of Joe's I've read has been gripping though. He's one of the few authors where I will always buy his next (horror) book on release
  • (3/5)
    Joe Hill’s Strange Weather is a collection of four short novels with diverse narrators, themes, and settings that might appeal to readers preferring light thrillers or science fiction. The first story, Snapshot, takes place in the 1980’s, and is told from the point of view of Michael, a thirteen-year-old boy. He is approached outside his home by a woman who used to babysit and clean for his family. She seems disoriented and lost, fearfully telling Michael to not to let his picture be taken. He is puzzled by her warning until he later encounters a menacing stranger with a Polaroid camera who seems to have some evil intent. This tale is one of the stronger ones in the book, exciting and reminiscent of some of his famous father’s earlier works. Loaded, the second novella, is very different in tone and takes place in the current day. It explores the timely topics of gun violence, police brutality and racial profiling. The story describes what can happen when an overzealous security guard with a propensity toward violence makes a huge error based on his own biases. While the plot is gripping and contains an unexpected twist, the story seems a bit overly ambitious as it attempts to make several political statements at once. The third tale is Aloft, and it is probably the weakest of the four. Aubrey, the main character finds himself in a unique situation after agreeing to participate in a sky-jumping tribute in memory of a friend. The story has science fiction elements combined with allusions to a well-known fairy tale. The final offering in Hill’s collection is Rain. Told from the point of view of a woman named Honeysuckle, it also combines science fiction with a well-known reference-this time a children’s book (and movie). This last story includes a bizarre weather catastrophe, a cult, and terrorism. Hill proves he is a talented and versatile writer, with a good grasp of the hot button topics of our time. Despite the varying strength and success of the four novellas, each was entertaining and thought-provoking in their own way.
  • (4/5)
    Great stories, way better than his brother Owen King books
  • (5/5)
    While we were at ALA, Serena and I were making our way through the throngs of eager librarians at the publisher tables. After all, the vendor’s hall had just opened up, and that meant free books. At one point Serena grabbed my arm and pointed to a stack of books. I immediately saw that they were ARCs of the new novellas collection by Joe Hill, entitled “Strange Weather”. Given that you all know my deep deep love for Joe Hill, it should come as no surprise that I basically went like "MOVE BITCH GET OUT THE WAY!". I saved it and saved it and SAVED IT for Horrorpalooza, and I can say that it was basically worth the wait. I’m going to talk about all four novellas, split up into four sections. I’ll try to keep it concise, but this may be a ramble, y’all.“Snapshot”: Okay, so I’ll be honest. I read “Strange Weather” for Horrorpalooza, but I would say that this story was the only one in the set that was a mostly ‘conventional’ horror story. More on the others later. What I liked about “Snapshot” was that it had the nostalgia feel down pat, with our protagonist being a teenage boy named Michael who is fairly normal, if not a little awkward. His neighbor and family friend Shelly Beukes has been succumbing more and more to memory loss and dementia, and Michael keeps an eye on her for her aging husband Larry. She keeps talking about a “Polaroid Man” who is stalking her, but it’s chalked up to her failing memory. Of course, Michael then meets this “Polaroid Man” and his camera that steals memories from people. From the description of this guy to the very concept of someone stalking you to steal your memories, I was sufficiently spooked by this first novel. I thought that Michael also had a very realistic voice, and it just proves that Hill, like his father Stephen King, really knows how to write a book from the perspective of kids and pull it off. There was also a lingering sense of pathos about this story, as it didn’t end after a battle of good and evil, like so many horror stories do. I had to wipe tears away from my eyes as Hill ruminated and explored the ideas of losing oneself to time and old age, and how it affects those who love you. Man does this man know how to make me cry.“Loaded”: This was probably the ballsiest, and most maddening, book in the collection. Hill doesn’t shy away from his personal politics and opinions in his public persona, and he has a lot to say about gun violence in this country. “Loaded” takes the themes of gun violence, racism, privilege, and, dare I say, the Alt-Right (before it became so prevalent), and turns it into this sucker punch of a story. Basically, a white mall cop with a history of racism and violence is said to have stopped a mass shooting at a mall, in which five people were killed, including the suspect. He becomes a hero to the community. But then his story starts to fall apart as a reporter with her own painful memories involving racist cops and police brutality starts to dig into his ‘heroic act’. This one built up nice and slow, piecing things together bit by bit until I was on the edge of my seat. This was also the story in the collection that made me yell out in anger at the end, and have to walk around my house a bit before I could continue onto the next one. Hill brings up a lot of hot button by ever relevant issues in how we view authority, how we downplay racism in our culture, and how deadly situations that can totally be prevented instead explode because of our obsession with guns and the inability (or refusal) to confront our racist culture and disdain for gun control. DAMN this one pulsated with indictments and anger, and while it was bleak as HELL, I like that he took it on, even if there were a couple of tropes used that feel a bit outdated and not so culturally sensitive (like, why did the father of Aisha’s daughter have to have run off on her?). Overall, this one lights up the page with frustration and misery. Be ready.“Aloft”: This story might have been my favorite in the book, actually, which I wasn’t expecting because it was the one that was the LEAST horror-oriented. A guy named Aubrey is skydiving with the girl he pines after, as part of a promise they made to a mutual friend who has now passed on. But he manages to land on a solid, cloud-like…. thing. It tries to provide him with everything he needs, as if it has a mind of it’s own and wants him to stay, and Aubrey is tempted to take it up on it’s hospitality. What I liked about this one was that it just kind of felt a little whimsical, as well as bittersweet. We learn about Aubrey and his relationships with his crush, Harriet, and their now deceased bandmate June. You slowly see his strengths and weaknesses, and how his inability to take various plunges in life now applies to not taking ‘the plunge’ off this weird ‘cloud’ that so entices him to stay. I just loved the mechanics and the world building of this ‘cloud’. We don’t really know what it is, we don’t really know how it works, but I was so tickled by the various things that it could do. It’s just such an original concept, even if it wasn’t particularly ‘scary’. It reminded me of some of the more whimsy-based stories in “20th Century Ghosts” that didn’t scare, but entertained through sheer creativity.“Rain”: Hill is no stranger to the Apocalypse story. You remember how much I LOVED “The Fireman”, so when I realized that “Rain” was an end of the world story but with NAIL RAIN, I was pretty pumped. Our protagonist this time is Honeysuckle, a woman who lives in Boulder and is excited that her girlfriend is finally moving in with her. Unfortunately, the day that Yolanda is going to move in, a storm cloud comes through, and instead of water, the sky rains sharp crystals that look like nails. They shred every living thing below, causing death, damage, and panic. In the acknowledgments Hill said that he was kind of having a bit of fun with the fact he’d already written such an epic end of the world story, but “Rain” isn’t exactly light hearted. It is very despondent, as Honeysuckle travels on foot to Denver to try and find Yolanda’s father, having to deal less with rain than the human wreckage and evils along the way. From a strange cult to homophobic misogynists, Honeysuckle has a long road ahead of her. This one made me cry deeply at one point, because, fair warning for a spoiler here, a person that Honeysuckle comes upon is completely broken over the fact his cat Roswell has been impaled by these crystals. Roswell is still alive, but in agony, and Honeysuckle decides to put the poor animal out of it’s misery. And it was here that all my tears for other things in this collection decided that enough was enough and I started weeping. But even though Hill said in the acknowledgments that the Trump election made him make this story far less hopeful that he originally intended, he doesn’t leave it totally hopeless. I appreciate that even in darkest times in his writing, he will usually give us the strength to keep on hoping. Unless it’s “Loaded”. GOD that was a rough one.All in all, I thought that “Strange Weather” was a very strong collection of stories. Joe Hill continues to amaze me and move me, and if you haven’t already, please do seek him out. This might be a good collection to start with, as it balances so many of the genres that he excels in.
  • (4/5)
    Short Summary: A camera that slowly eats your soul with each picture, a mall security guard is believed to have prevented a mass shooting, a man on his first skydiving adventure lands on a seemingly sentient cloud, and a sudden apocalyptic event in Boulder, Colorado causes the clouds to rain deadly nails.Thoughts: Strange Weather is an indelible collection of four short stories about vastly different topics that relate in some way to weather but all leave you with that unsettled feeling that Hill is oh so good at.Verdict: While this was an impressive collection, it wasn’t consistent and I hoped for a little more from certain tales; however, it is apparent that Hill is just as talented in short story form as he is in novels.
  • (2/5)
    Strange Weather is the first bit of fiction I’ve managed to snare by Joe Hill. I heard some pretty great things about his work, but it’s possible I took those praises a little too much to heart. Rating this book doesn’t come easily. To quote what I told a friend on Twitter, reading Strange Weather felt like an attempt at chewing the gristle on steak. That is, wrong and uncomfortable, but not in a good way. I’ve decided to divvy my review up based on each storry.

    SNAPSHOT

    “Snapshot,” though a bit lacking in style, is one of two stories in this small collection that I found myself capable of tolerating. I figure it’s because this short tale embodies a sort of Twilight Zone and Night Gallery feel. It read the quickest out of the four stories and I found myself nearly in tears at its conclusion, so the best I can say about it is that I either felt something, or my emotions went bonkers again.

    LOADED

    The second shorty story in Hill’s collection, “Loaded,” is a bunch of driveling bullshit, for lack of a better word. I’m all about our Second Amendment Rights; I even have a cup that says “Don’t ban guns, ban idiots,” but this story encompasses the stereotypical idea that every gun owner or enthusiast is a batshit crazy blowhard that’s just looking for a reason to go off. I have friends and family that appreciate this machinery, that agree people should under go background and mental wellness checks prior to purchase of a fire arm, but this? This story just adds fuel to a fire that seeks kindling via blame on inanimate objects, rather than the person behind them. The main guy of “Loaded” shows us exactly how restricting gun ownership will fail so hey, better hurry and make it entirely illegal right? Oh, and let’s not get started with the over-saturation of Social Justice Warriorness in this piece. I’m all for equality, but this? This just reeks of extremism in a way that I almost abandoned the book as a whole.

    ALOFT

    “Aloft” is by far the best in this collection of short stories. An embodiment of the collections title, the main character encounters something unusual while fulfilling a dead friend’s promise and from there, things really take a turn for the bizarre. While I feel Hill gives us a bit too much exposition in this tale, there are many things about it that I feel should be appreciated. For instance, the next time anyone asks me what it’s like to have ulcerative colitis, I’ll probably ask them if they’ve read “Aloft”‘ by Joe Hill, because let’s face it: the torment Aubrey goes through gastrically (is that even a word?) in this story is a pretty damned accurate depiction of the suffering people with Crohn’s and Colitis endure.

    RAIN

    The final story in Hill’s collection seemed like it could have had a loft of potential. “Rain” further supports the title of the collection when a torrent of crystal nails fall from the sky to impale poor, unexpecting citizens. So what’s the problem then? “Rain” is so fundamentally flawed that it’s just… no. First, Hill is more obsessed with making fun of Trump in this story than the events that occur. This isn’t a bad thing – I absolutely loathe Trump, especially considering his policies may very well shorten my lifespan significantly. “Rain” is more a mockery than the story it could be. At least the twist at the end was fairly amusing, but by that point all I could do is roll my eyes in frustration.

    CONCLUSION

    Joe Hill’s Strange Weather is probably a poor choice for first time introduction to his work. In fact, it’s almost a deterrent considering it’s the first book by him that I read and I was ecstatic about receiving a review copy. It is with a bit of a heavy heart for the sake of disappointment that I am forced to conclude my review with a largely poor rating. Part of my compliance with FTC guidelines as a reviewer requires that I disclose when I read a free book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. In this case, I’d like to thank Edelweiss and HarperCollins/William Morrow for this opportunity.