Name: Full Throttle
Author: Joe Hill
Number of Pages: 480 (Hardback)
Published: October 10th 2019 by Gollancz
Genre: Short stories, Horror, Fantasy
A masterful collection of thirteen relentless tales of supernatural suspense, including In The Tall Grass, one of two stories co-written with Stephen King, the basis for the terrifying feature film from Netflix.
A little door that opens to a world of fairy tale wonders becomes the blood-drenched stomping ground for a gang of hunters in Faun.
A grief-stricken librarian climbs behind the wheel of an antique Bookmobile to deliver fresh reads to the dead in Late Returns.
In By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain, two young friends stumble on the corpse of a plesiosaur at the water’s edge, a discovery that forces them to confront the inescapable truth of their own mortality… and other horrors that lurk in the water’s shivery depths.
And tension shimmers in the sweltering heat of the Nevada desert as a faceless trucker finds himself caught in a sinister dance with a tribe of motorcycle outlaws in Throttle, co-written with Stephen King.
Featuring two previously unpublished stories, Full Throttle is a darkly imagined odyssey through the complexities of the human psyche. Hypnotic and disquieting, it mines our tormented secrets, hidden vulnerabilities, and basest fears.
Short stories aren’t my usual reading choice, I tend to go for massive books that take me ages to read, but I enjoyed both The Fireman and Strange Weather, a novella collection, by Joe Hill so I thought I’d give this latest offering a try, and it was a real treat to dip in to a collection of stories varying in length and writing style. It meant I read some quicker than others, so it wasn’t always possible to finish a whole story in one sitting, but I had something to look forward to next time I picked up the book.
I loved the introduction, the insight into writing and childhood and growing up with two writers for parents, and the experiences and influences on Hill’s own writing.
Now, onto the stories. I don’t know that I’ll mention every single one as my review will end up longer than a story or two, and where’s the fun in knowing everything before you start reading? Here are a few mentions…
Throttle – I recently finished watching Sons of Anarchy, so inevitably the characters/group here reminded me a little of that series, and the story was co written with Stephen King, so my next thought was ‘hey, remember when Stephen King made a brief appearance in SOA?’ I digress.. The story follows a biker group in the midst of trouble who cross paths with a truck driver with a grudge. It’s tense and exciting.
Dark Carousel – You’re not going to look at a merry-go-round in the same way after reading this one. I loved the carnival atmosphere, all dazzle and lights and fantasy, tinged with a slightly sinister air once night descends. A group of teenagers celebrate being young and free before moving on to various commitments but an experience on the Wild Wheel changes things forever. NOS4A2 remains on my TBR pile, but just the mention that one of the figures on the ride was gifted by Manx who runs Christmasland gave me the idea that this wasn’t going to end well.
By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain – Young friends make a startling discovery by the side of a mist-shrouded lake and dream of what it will mean for their futures; it’s not every day you discover a Plesiosaur after all. I loved the imagination of the kids in this tale.
Faun – Definitely one of my favourite stories in the collection. I could have read a full length novel in this world with these characters. I don’t want to say too much about it and spoil it, but from the outset I was intrigued, and as the fantasy element came into play I loved it more, and then it went in a direction I didn’t anticipate and….
Late Returns – Another favourite, about a man who gets a job driving a Bookmobile taking out library books, only his patrons are from other eras and are in need of one last great read. A love of books and reading really shows in this story.
Twittering From the Circus of the Dead – Written in the form of tweets, I wondered at first where the story was going. A family on vacation find themselves attending a circus which a difference. Or do they? What if anything really happened, or was it all just clever marketing?
Still with me so far? So, what conclusion can I draw?
Full Throttle offers a great variety of reading fare; there probably is something for almost everyone. A vast array of settings, themes, characters, twists, endings that come out of nowhere and leave you thinking, this book offers them all, something to scare or delight a reader. That’s not to say I enjoyed every story. I spent the first half thinking I’d found the best story, only to be wowed by the next one, and I wondered when I’d finally hit the point where I didn’t quite love the story as much. That did happen, inevitably, but then it was back to another tale where I ended up thinking I wish there was so much more of this.
Full Throttle is variety, excitement, horror, thriller, mystery and so much more all contained in one volume and I really enjoyed it.