Joe Hill is a fantastic horror writer and professional loveable weirdo. Having recently come out with a new full length novel, The Fireman, I decided it was time to rank his very worthy additions to the horror genre. Keep in mind, this does not include his phenomenal comic book series, or any of his short stories and novellas. All of which are also pretty darn impressive. Joe’s novels share similar themes. There’s plenty of dark humor, poignancy, heart, and some really wacky and creepy characters along the way.
Many horror fans have probably already seen the movie adaptation of this one starring Daniel Radcliffe in a most un-Potter like role. The movie was good! But of course, the book was better. The story centers around a fellow named Ig Perrish who suddenly finds himself sprouting the titular horns from his head after a night of heavy drinking. Ig also has newfound supernatural powers at his command. Armed with these tools, we follow Ig on his journey to unlock the mystery behind the unsolved rape and murder of his girlfriend. The whole community thinks he’s guilty of committing those heinous acts and he has been ostracized because of it. I definitely liked the “who-dunnit” vibe to this novel. I can also give extra points for originality. I’ve met characters who’ve turned into some pretty weird things, but none take the same journey as poor Ig Perrish.
3. The Fireman
Mr. Hill’s most recent novel! While I do love all things post-apocalyptic, I don’t blame anyone for feeling a little fatigued on the subgenre. Thankfully, this story takes a different approach than most, so don’t be scared off by this. Harper is a school nurse who finds out she’s pregnant while the world is crumbling around her. A massive pandemic is on the loose spreading like wildfire and causing it’s victims to spontaneously combust. And unfortunately, Harper is now a carrier. The uninfected begin to hunt down and kill their infected neighbors, forcing Harper to flee and seek shelter with a group of other afflicted refugees. Did she find a safe haven? Or just another hell? And that’s when things get really interesting…
Where to even begin when describing this eccentric and completely loveable book? The heroine in this tale is a woman named Vic, whom we first meet as a child. Vic has an extraordinary ability to find things by traveling on the Shorter Way Bridge. The bridge takes her wherever she needs to go. But journeying with this magic does take its toll on the users. Others have access to such powers as well. And no one’s method of connection to it is exactly the same. Charlie Manx, the novels adversary, uses his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith to abscond with children into a dreamy and hellish world called Christmas Land. Vic escaped him as a child, and old Charlie has never forgotten that. So when Vic is all grown up with a son of her own, guess who comes to collect his vengeance? NOS4A2 is by far the most bizarre and heart wrenching Joe Hill novel to date. Whether you take the Shorter Way, or the Wraith, just make sure you get to Christmas Land and read this amazing book.
Honorable Mention...20th Century Ghosts
Okay, I lied. I couldn’t make this list without including one other Joe Hill book. Even though it isn’t a novel. 20th Century Ghosts is a collection of short stories he wrote. And there isn’t a bad one in the bunch. I usually don’t sit down and read a book of short stories cover to cover, but this one I certainly can. My favorite short is actually the first one, Best New Horror. The moment I finished it, I immediately picked it up and read it straight through again. You’ve got the scary, the weird, and a little something for everyone here.
1. Heart-Shaped Box
None of his books can replace this one as my favorite. The star of our tale is former rock god, Judas Coyne. He’s aging and isn’t very happy about it. What happens when you’re a famous rock star who didn’t die young, beautiful, and remain forever immortal in the eyes of pop culture? Well, if you’re Jude, you start collecting spooky oddities and shacking up with young groupies. His newest acquisition is a suit haunted by its previous owner. Needless to say, Jude will certainly be getting more than he ever expected with this one. This is no ordinary ghost, and Coyne will have to confront all his demons if he hopes to make it through this ordeal alive. Judas Coyne immediately stole my heart. This is one of those “comfort books” I find myself reading time and again when I need a literary shoulder to cry on. Now, get out there my fellow creepy book worms and read past your bedtime.
~ Sandra (@LilMsMnstr)