Author: Joe Hill
Wow! If you look at the “Books” section of this blog it’s certainly apparent that we’re in the middle of what can only be called “The Joe Hill Show.”
It’s really not surprising though. We love horror, and it doesn’t matter what vehicle with which it’s being distributed—film, literature, music, art. We love it all. Simply put, Joe Hill’s work is some of the best I’ve read in a long time.
I just read an amazing article in The New York Times about the King family (oops, probably should have spoiler alerted you, but if you’re new to Joe Hill’s work I have a giant, vintage Rolls Royce sized secret: He’s Stephen King’s son). It gave a basic overview of Stephen King, his wife, and their children, two of which are published authors right along with their parents. When the article discussed Joe King, it obviously mentioned that he writes under the surname “Joe Hill.” Not surprisingly, he started doing it because he didn’t want to ride the coat tails of his father, who’s a living legend when it comes to modern horror fiction. He wanted to make a name for himself. I understand where he’s coming from. The article mentioned that Joe went to extremes to hide his true identity and as a result developed a slight case of paranoia.
He needn’t worry. Read one of his novels. Even without knowing his “little secret” you’ll find yourself making the bold statement that he writes some of the best horror since Stephen King.
His latest piece of work is NOS4A2, an amazing novel that spans both space and time, and takes place in multiple realities. The story revolves around two main characters: Charles Manx, a convicted murderer and child abductor who drives around in a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith, and Victoria “Vic” McQueen, who possesses a special talent of being able to find the exact thing she’s looking for by driving her bike (as a child) or motorcycle (as an adult) over a long collapsed bridge that she’s able to conjure up when she needs it. Sometimes the things Vic looks for, and the places her bridge takes her aren’t always pleasant. Not surprisingly, her bridge eventually puts her in the presence of Charles Manx. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t read it, but it should be no shock that Vic is responsible for Manx’s incarceration.
Years pass. Manx gets old—like really old, because the dude was in his eighties already when he was caught. Vic gets a little strung out and spends some time in a mental hospital. We’re also introduced to some supporting characters here, including Vic’s husband, Lou, and their son, Bruce Wayne (I swear I’m not making that up). Eventually Manx finds himself on the road again, promising the wonders of “Christmasland” to a new generation of children. Again, I’ll spare you the juicy details but let’s just say Vic and Charley cross paths again, and the result is a badass game of cat and mouse across alternate realities, leading up to an epic showdown.
That’s it. That’s all I’m going to tell you because I don’t want to ruin it for you. The thing I love about books is that they’re so intimate and the experience is much more personal than film. You and I can watch the same movie and essentially have the same experience. However, you and I can read the same book and while the basic story is the same, the “experience” can be totally different. We determine what the characters look and sound like, and in the case of horror novels, we can uncover just how twisted we truly are as individuals.
Joe Hill, much like his father, gives you the tools to paint one hell of a picture. Again, I understand that Joe didn’t want to be known as “Stephen King’s kid”, and wanted to make a name for himself. I challenge you, dear readers, to experience NOS4A2, his fourth and in my opinion best, novel and decide for yourself whether he deserves the credit.
I think he does.
Have you read any of Joe’s work? What’s your favorite?