For those of you who don’t know, Joe Hill is the pen name of Stephen King’s horror writing son. I was first introduced to Joe Hill’s work when I saw his book “Heart Shaped Box” on an “alternative valentines day” display at Borders (remember those?) and I picked up the paper back and devoured it in two days without knowing Hill’s connection to my favorite horror author. Now that I do know the connection I have to admit I’m a little disappointed because it means I can never read another book by Joe Hill without comparing it to King’s work and I’ll never go back to enjoying his work like I enjoyed “Heart Shaped Box”. But when I saw the father-son duo had come together to create a novella I knew I had to buy it for myself.
The title “In the Tall Grass” is such because the story takes place…you guessed it, in tall grass. A brother and sister are driving home from school and decide to stop when they hear the voice of a lost child in the tall grass. Of course, it wouldn’t be King if these were just any ordinary brother and sister. They’re irish-twins with a psychic connection. Oh, and our heroine is pregnant.
As you could assume (and probably are assuming already, without the book even in your hand or on your e-reader) the kid in danger isn’t actually in danger at all, and while the unsuspecting tourist go into the grass to save the not-so-endangered child the locals come out to pick the spoils from the soon to be abandoned forever car. The story picks up pace as you discover there is more than just a child in the tall grass, and then our heroine goes into labour and things get weird, with an ending that will make you wish you read this one on an empty stomach.
I have to admit I came to this novella with expectations a little too high and walked away disappointed. The plot just seems to be rehashing several older King plots (especially Children of the Corn) and nothing about it felt purely original. I also didn’t see a lot of Hill’s voice in this piece and I was disappointed by that as well. I was hoping for a melding of the two writing styles and instead came away with stale King.
Don’t get me wrong, I still read the whole thing in one sitting and couldn’t wait to make it to the end, but it didn’t give me the thrills or chills the way King (and Hill)’s other writing has done. The novella is only $2.99 on kindle so I’d still give it a try if you’re a diehard fan, but I think I’m going to take my expectations and hang on to them until July when King’s new novel “Joyland” comes out.