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Strange Weather
Four Short Novels
Joe Hill

William Morrow
October 2017 /978-0062663115
Fiction / Horror

Reviewed by Leslie C Halpern

Two elements tie this creepy collection of four short novels together: bizarre weather and masterful storytelling. Abnormal atmospheric conditions mark each of these stories, although the strange weather is only the central focus in two of the stories, while serving as a background for the other two. Dangerous and unpredictable weather artfully parallels the emotions of the characters. Written by New York Times best-selling author, Joe Hill, the book includes illustrations by different artists to introduce and conclude each story.

In the first story, “Snapshot,” an overweight adolescent delivers a first-person account of his showdown with a sadistic freak who erases people’s memories with a magic camera. In development at Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions, the chilling plot develops until its dramatic climax that occurs during an electrical storm that mysteriously kills all the birds in the area. In this case, the birds metaphorically tie into the final chapters of the story, in a strangely unexpected way.

The second story, “Loaded,” concerns a gun-crazed mall security guard who becomes a national media hero for stopping a mass shooting. Set in Florida during a wind-fueled wildfire, the reclusive security guard’s secrets, beliefs, and actions begin rapidly spreading in a media storm propelled by a journalist whose life has been forever altered by gun violence. As the wildfire approaches the area, tempers also rage out of control, and the security guard’s slow burns escalates to a blazing fire.

“Aloft” may be the strangest story in this collection of strange stories. Aubrey, a young man with a fear of heights and fear of failure drifts through life without commitment. He joins friends and relatives in a skydiving exercise to honor a dead friend’s memory, but his motivation is solely to flirt with a young woman in the group. A mechanical failure causes an emergency jump, and Aubrey lands on a bizarre cloud made of a semi-solid material capable of shape shifting to meet his needs. Faced with the possibilities of death by staying on the cloud or by jumping to Earth with a damaged parachute, Aubrey finally has to make a commitment.

The final story, “Rain,” tells the tale of a sudden rain of crystallized nails that causes mass casualties in Boulder, Colorado. In this case, a young gay woman describes how her girlfriend and her mother were among those killed during the storm. After failing to reach her girlfriend’s father to deliver the news of his two losses, the woman sets off on a walking journey to share her condolences. This frightening road trip involves thieves, thugs, and murderers with nothing left to lose after more apocalyptic nail storms spread throughout the land with no rational explanation.

Imaginatively conceived and articulately expressed, these four frightening tales of horror provide hours of spine-tingling excitement.

Reviewer Leslie C. Halpern is the author of four nonfiction books, including 200 Love Lessons from the Movies and four children's books, including Silly Sleepytime Poems.
Reviewed 2017