My rating: 5 of 5 stars
While reading this, I can’t help but be reminded of Joe Hill’s father, Stephen King. It has elements from a quintessential King story – the rhyming crazy goon, the precocious child, the ugly evil antagonist, the eager dialogues and internal monologues complete with words in ALL CAPS and boldface. But this Joe Hill book (all three Joe Hill novels I’ve read so far, really) has something most Stephen King novels don’t – a three-dimensional villain, an understanding of the monster. And hope for a happy ending. All of the elements fit in this novel. It’s a well-thought-out puzzle that Hill built and unpacked for our enjoyment. It presents a theory that ties together his father’s novels and his own, and even those of Lovecraft and possibly all horror tales that put their characters in a part of the world that does not appear on any map. Why do these eerie dimensions exist, and how do we access them? Joe Hill tells us. I like the nods to David Mitchell (one of the characters listens to the Cloud Atlas Sextet) and to his own father. In the Acknowledgments, Joe Hill says, “I guess I have been cruising [my father’s] back roads my whole life. I don’t regret it.” I say he is driving down his own path now, and as his fan ever since the brilliant 20th Century Ghosts, I am enjoying the journey, and I can’t wait for more.