Sunday, 30 November 2008
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
JOE HILL'S first novel, Heart-Shaped Box - about a bad-boy rock star who buys a ghost on the internet - was built around a plot hole the size of San Andreas Fault, but was so exuberant, funny and scary that several editions sold out before publication.
The first issue of his comic Locke & Key sold out in one day.
The stories in 20th Century Ghosts were the first book published by a writer who happens to be the son of Stephen King, but kept that quiet until outed by perceptive readers.
The stories are gripping - oh yes. They lack the cruelty of true horror, and they have the sweetness that is Hill's most notable asset.
(His father, incidentally, used to have a dog called Good Boy. When children petted it and said "Good boy!" he would reel back and say: "You're clever! How did you know my dog's name?")
In one story here, a film-obsessed ghost terrifies cinemagoers by chatting to them about the movie, then replaying her death.
In another, dead children coach a kidnap victim on how he should kill their murderer.
In a charming fantasy, a man remembers his best friend, an inflatable boy who lived in terror of the narrator's evil father and his savage pit bull.