pspsteve, March 17, 2011 (view all comments by pspsteve)
A great collection of short stories. Joe Hill does magic with the pen. These stories span from the sublime to the humorous and supernatural. "Best New Horror" puts the reader into the shoes of an agent looking down the barrel of horror. "Pop Art", an unusual story of friendship, bullying, and humor. The characters throughout this collection are amazing. From childhood to old age, Hill pours on the fears, hopes, and dreams of all the characters and readers of his book. Great, great, great.
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Terry Weyna, January 19, 2010 (view all comments by Terry Weyna)
Joe Hill has a wild imagination and a master's touch for short fiction, making 20th Century Ghosts the best debut fantasy/horror book of the past decade. The tales are varied in theme and language, moving from the darkest fantasy to the dreamiest surreality with grace. It's hard to believe that the same writer who penned "Best New Horror," in which a jaded editor of horror anthologies meets up with some real life terror, is the same fellow who wrote "Pop Art," about a teen who is literally inflatable. The story from which the book takes its title is a tribute to the movies, and will bring back memories in those of a certain age who went to Saturday matinees and got hit in the back of the head with jujubes. Hill has written a novel since publishing this collection (Heart-Shaped Box), has another coming out soon (Horns) and has tried his hand at the graphic novel (Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft). Heart-Shaped Box and Locke & Key are wonderful, but in my opinion Hill has yet to surpass the excellent work in 20th Century Ghosts. Like his father, Stephen King, Hill does his best work (so far) in his short stories.
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I picked up this collection because I had heard that one of Stephen King's sons was dabbling in the horror genre, and I wanted to see if he was, well, any good. It took roughly three pages for me to determine that Joe Hill is a superb suspense storyteller, who manages it in a way that both evokes his father's tone while firmly establishing his own unique voice. Good, creepy stuff, and the winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Fiction Collection in 2005.
by Chris B.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"After the release of Hill's acclaimed novel Heart-Shaped Box, this collection of his short fiction, originally published in Britain two years ago made its way to the United States. Hill, the son of horror master Stephen King, runs a diverse gamut that includes some unapologetic chillers along the lines of the book's title story. Yet the essence of his material could best be described as a hybrid that connects the ironic twists from episodes of The Twilight Zone with the angst and vulnerability of childhood and adolescence. David LeDoux, whose previous audiobook credits include Douglas Coupland's Hey Nostradamus! and Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, demonstrates an especially keen knack for capturing the cadence of teen and young adult male speech patterns, with equal parts deadpan cool and quivering tension. Hill's novella 'Voluntary Committal' provides a sublime experience of jarring suspense and compelling family drama. Admittedly, a few of the briefer works may leave listeners longing for more fully developed story lines, but Hill consistently manages to evoke emotional responses and provoke unsettling questions, which makes for a worthwhile experience. Simultaneous release with the Morrow hardcover. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Chris Bolton, Powells.com,
"I'm left with no recourse but to declare Joe Hill a genuine original. The stories in 20th Century Ghosts contain many tropes that will be familiar to readers of horror and dark fantasy...and yet there is an X-factor that marks each story as truly unique and startlingly original....20th Century Ghosts grabbed me with its first story and refused to let go. I read the entire book straight through, much like a novel, and would have started right back at the beginning if my pile of unread bedside reading weren't threatening to topple onto me as I sleep." (read the entire Powells.com review)
by Kirkus Reviews,
"A collection of pleasantly creepy stories....[M]ost of the stories display the unself-conscious dash that made Hill's novel an intelligent pleasure....Not just for ghost addicts."
by Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times Book Review,
"'Pop Art,' 'You Will Hear the Locust Sing' and 'Voluntary Committal' are all terrific, and the rest are, at a minimum, solid, swift and craftsmanlike. But 'Best New Horror' seems to me the most thrillingly original of Hill's weird tales, a daredevil performance that keeps some complex ideas suspended in the air along with, of course, our usual disbelief."
by Colleen Mondor, BookSlut,
"20th Century Ghosts has proven to be everything I wanted and more....[Hill] deserves to be someone that every fan of the short story in particular ought to be reading....I admire the hell out of this guy and everything he does with the written word."
"Although not everything is ghostly, this is dark fiction at its best that will keep you entertained, disquieted and spellbound at the same time. I cannot recommend enough this book. I'm quite sure you'll be thankful for taking my advice."
"Many other long-published authors would kill to be as good as just one of these stories — it's that good. And one of the best story collections I've read in years. Haunting, resonant, melancholic — a collection that richly deserves its awards."
by Time Out New York,
"[A]mply demonstrates the author's unique take on a genre made iconic by his father Stephen King....[Hill] excels at spiking his narratives with a potent mix of emotion and fright....He consistently blurs the distinction between recognizable emotions and the downright eerie."
by School Library Journal,
"[W]ill appeal not only to fantasy and horror fans, but also to those who appreciate drama and suspense....With their cliff-hanger endings, quick pacing, and three-dimensional characters, many of these selections will spark interesting classroom and book-club discussions."
This award-winning collection of short fiction by the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box leads readers into a maze filled with exits into a vast country of the surreal. Available in paperback for the first time in the U.S., this volume includes an exclusive bonus story.
by Harper Collins,
Imogene is young, beautiful . . . and dead, waiting in the Rosebud Theater one afternoon in 1945. . . .
Francis was human once, but now he's an eight-foot-tall locust, and everyone in Calliphora will tremble when they hear him sing. . . .
John is locked in a basement stained with the blood of half a dozen murdered children, and an antique telephone, long since disconnected, rings at night with calls from the dead. . . .
Nolan knows but can never tell what really happened in the summer of '77, when his idiot savant younger brother built a vast cardboard fort with secret doors leading into other worlds. . . .
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.