Here today with a review for a collection of stories from Joe Hill that range from gruesome, to grim, to depressing, and even hopeful and heartwarming.
By Joe Hill
Hardcover, 480 pages
2019, William Morrow
Full Throttle is packed with a variety of stories (and not all of them scary, for those of you who don’t typically enjoy horror!), most of which I loved or really enjoyed. I pre-ordered this book (rather than saving myself money by waiting for the paperback release) because it was supposed to come signed by Hill. Unfortunately, the store I ordered from didn’t get any signed copies I guess, but I opted to keep my order anyway. I do have another book that Hill signed when I met him, and the book was already paid for. I’m glad I kept the order and read the book right away because this is a fantastic collection!
To avoid making what will likely already be a long review even longer, I’m just going to give a few thoughts on the stories I liked and loved:
Throttle – This is a fast-paced, engaging story and a great one to start the collection with. Hill wrote it with King and amidst the action, there are themes of father and son relationships, honor, and revenge. It was compelling and I really enjoyed Vince, the father character. He’s by no means a great guy, but likable all the same.
Dark Carousel – I never thought I’d consider a horse to be terrifying! This was a real moral-based story that reminded me a lot of an Are You Afraid of the Dark episode but for adults.
Faun – I feel like there’s always one story in a collection I enjoy, that I wish was a full-length novel and Faun was it for me. This is like a trip into a fucked-up Narnia where humans hunt supernatural creatures. The story took a turn I wasn’t expecting and I loved it. I think a novel or novella about one of the characters, Charn, and his time in the world prior to when this story takes place would be perfect. This is on my Top 3 list for sure.
Late Returns – Another Top 3 story. I think anyone who loves books will love this story about ghosts and a bookmobile. It’s sad and sweet and the ending had me feeling some deep feels (aka, I cried.)
All I Care About Is You – The third on my Top 3. I love stories about AI and this was a fresh take. Another one that I would like to see as a novella because the world was so interesting. The ending was another with an unexpected twist and I loved it.
Thumbprint – A dark look at what one woman brought with her and took home from her time in Iraq. This was more realistic horror and very unsettling.
Mums – This is a trippy tale with an unreliable narrator. This one was quite creepy, a little gory and very much a head-scratcher. It’s another one about family relationships.
In the Tall Grass – The other story Hill wrote with his father. I really enjoyed the first half of the story – it’s very atmospheric and scary, without a lot going on. Then it delves into some pretty disgusting and upsetting horror. I was really grossed out, actually, and sad too.
I think this is a really well-rounded collection. I like that it’s not all just gore and monsters. And there are a lot of really descriptive, colorful scenes and excellent one-liners. I wanted to share a few examples.
From the introduction:
“I still also believe that books operate along the same principals as enchanted wardrobes. You climb into that little space and come out on the other side in a vast and secret world, a place both more frightening and more wonderful than your own.”
From Dark Carousel:
In reference to the pirate ship rides at carnivals – “I thought of that ride as the SS Fuck No.”
I gotta say, I agree!
“Almost everyone who sees the video thinks of costumes and special effects. In an age of artifice, we recognize reality only when it shows us its claws and gives us a scratch.”
“To a man, all of the bucks sprouted hipster beards; if you ignored the horns, it was possible to imagine that —had massacred an artisanal chocolate company in Brooklyn.”
From All I Care About Is You:
“The price of being alive is that someday you aren’t.”
And lastly, from the acknowledgment:
To his wife – “When we’re together, I always feel like a king.”
Not gonna lie, I let out a big “awwwww!” when I read that and then chuckled, because it’s also clever.
Pro-tip: Make sure you read all the way to the end, past Hill’s notes on his inspirations for the stories, and past that heart-warming note to his wife. :]