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Published by Harper Audio Genres: Dark Fiction, Horror
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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
“Snapshot” 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.”
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” explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.
In “Loaded,” 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.
Snapshot is the first story and it’s narrated by Will Wheaton who does a most excellent job.
Set in the 80’s, Strange Weather is the story of a 13 year old boy and his run in with a man he calls “The Phoenician”. The Phoenician is the villain of the tale. He’s ugly, vaguely imposing and possesses a camera that steals memories.
It’s also a story about aging, and about caring for those who once cared for you. It has some misty eyed moments and just a wee bit of eeriness. It lags pretty badly towards the end though and left me feeling gloomy.
Loaded is narrated by Stephen Lang who is deadly serious for a deadly serious story.
This dark tale is about guns, hate, prejudice, revenge and the media. I’m going to admit that there are many days that I have to turn off the news because I can’t take in any more of the unending ugliness occurring in the US right now (as I write this there has just been another senseless school shooting that is barely getting any media coverage). This is a story I never would have chosen to spend my free time reading had I known more before going in. I read to escape this true life horror. This story introduces a group of mostly loathsome people who come together in a climax of bloodshed at a shopping mall, taking out a few innocents along the way. In the aftermath, it turns into a story of the stupidity of hero worship and the suspicious reporter who smells something fishy. Though well written, it wasn’t my favorite and I would never read it again.
Aloft is narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris and just like the previous two narrators, he nails it.
Things go awry for a young man with an extreme fear of heights when he attempts to skydive to fulfill a wish made to a deceased friend and he ends up stranded on a cloud. This story is super imaginative but it also wasn’t my favorite. Something about Aubrey just grated on my last nerve. I don’t know if it was his fearfulness and gaseous emissions in the beginning, his never-ending pining away for a girl who was so not into him or just his personality. At any rate, it was a struggle and it shouldn’t have been. I found his thoughts boring and all we get are his thoughts. Sorry, I’m a jerk. I know this. If you’re going to throw anything my way, make sure it’s a horror book.
Rain is the final story and, if you ask me, the best in the collection. It is read by Kate Mulgrew who is one of my most favorite of all the narrators in all of the lands.
So many people seem to loath this story and find it ridiculous (and yeah maybe it is that) but I thought it was heartbreaking and sarcastically funny and Honeysuckle was a character I loved spending time with (unlike that Aubrey fellow) which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. She’s tough and resilient as a spiky rain falls from the sky and reigns terrors on those caught up in it.
I have to say, with the exception of Rain, I found this collection a wee bit unsatisfying.
About Joe Hill
Joe Hill is the author of three novels, Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and NOS4A2, as well as a prize-winning collection of stories, 20th Century Ghosts. He also wrote a pair of comics: Locke & Key and Wraith (which ties into the world of NOS4A2). Some nice people gave him an Eisner Award for his work in funny books, which is a great honor, even if “funny” probably doesn’t do a good job of describing the kinds of things that happen in the comics. Come to think of it, his comics aren’t very comic either.
You can get nearly daily doses of his pithy one-liners and mind-numbing insights over on Twitter, where he goes by the inspired handle of joe_hill. He blabs about all things pop culture over on his Tumblr, Joe Hill’s Thrills. Now and then he even updates this website.
Some people hug a teddy when the world gets to be too much. Me? I settle in with a scary book.