The Season 2 finale of NOS4A2 is airing this Sunday at 10pm EST, and if you’re anything like us, you’re already dreading the comedown from all those “HOLY SH*T!” sleep-with-a-nightlight-on-because-demons-may-actually-be-real level frights we’ve been watching every week. Luckily, you don’t have to go back to nightmare-less nights anytime soon — not if author Joe Hill has anything to do with it, anyway.
BBC America and AMC’s supernatural horror series is based on Hill’s 2013 novel of the same name, and he’s got a whole lot more where that came from. His body of work includes short stories, novels, poems and comic books, all chock full of creepy tales with even creepier villains to fill that Charlie Manx-sized hole in our hearts. Happy reading, fellow fright-seekers!
1. 20th Century Ghosts (2005)
This short story collection marks Hill’s first published work, and features 18 spine-tingling tales including Best New Horror, which earned a British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. In said story, editor Eddie Carroll finds himself jaded after reading and rejecting thousands of submissions for his very own horror anthology. It isn’t until he reads Buttonboy that he finds himself freshly disturbed and inspired by the genre, and Hill’s intriguingly meta tale follows Carroll on his quest to track down the author.
2. Heart-Shaped Box (2007)
Hill’s debut horror novel garnered a lot of acclaim — peaking at #8 on the New York Times bestseller list, Heart-Shaped Box earned Hill a Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and sold out multiple limited editions within hours of their being announced. This spooky story follows aging rocker Judas Coyne as he spends his retirement collecting morbid memorabilia, like a dead man’s funeral suit that allegedly comes with a ghost attached. After acquiring the suit in a heart shaped box, Coyne and his girlfriend, Georgia, realize that the ghost is both very real and very dangerous. The two embark on a mission to unravel the malevolent spirit’s past and find a way to vanquish him for good. The novel’s many twists and turns make it impossible to put down, but we’d recommend reading this one in the day time.
3. Horns (2010)
Hill’s dark fantasy novel Horns follows twenty-something Ig Perrish, who wakes up one morning to find he has horns — yes, literal horns — growing out of his forehead and mysterious new powers to go along with them. While grappling with these new developments, Ig also seeks to solve his girlfriend’s murder — a crime he’s largely considered guilty of. Horns was adapted into the 2014 film starring Daniel Radcliffe and directed by Alexandre Aja, making it the perfect contender for a book-to-screen comparison binge.
4. The Sundial Man (2010)
For a change of pace, you can check out Hill’s haunting 2010 poem The Sundial Man, which the author claims to have twiddled with on and off over the years. According to him, “maybe it has potential for a book, but probably not.” If you ask us, the poem’s imagery of a man skipping back and forth through time (not to mention the resurrected corpse) sounds ripe for a spooky short story, at the least.
5. In the Tall Grass (2012)
This novella (now also a Netflix film) is the second father-son collaboration between Hill and Stephen King, originally published in two separate parts for Esquire magazine. In In the Tall Grass, Hill and King manage to transform an ordinary Kansas corn field into a Bermuda triangle of horror, where characters become mysteriously trapped after attempting to help fellow lost travelers.
Hill described the thrilling intensity of writing with the “master of horror” in a 2019 NPR interview, saying: “Imagine Wile E. Coyote getting a box that says ‘Acme’ on the side. And then he pulls apart the crate and inside, there’s a rocket. And he lights the fuse and climbs on top. And the rocket blasts off after the roadrunner. And Wile E. Coyote is hanging on top, barely clinging on for dear life. I’ve written with my dad on two short stories and both times, I felt like Wile E. Coyote hanging on to the rocket.”
6. The Fireman (2016)
Hill’s fourth novel is the post-apocalyptic tale of humanity in the aftermath of a deadly spore, which has infected nearly the entire population. Hill has likened The Fireman to his father’s epic novel The Stand, which is also about a pandemic, and warned his readers about the dangers of resorting to hysteria amid the current global outbreak of COVID-19.
7. Locke & Key (2008-2013)
Calling all comic book fans: Hill’s acclaimed Locke & Key series features over 40 issues following the adventures of characters with access to a “Keyhouse” — a dangerous portal through to another dimension. With artwork by Gabriel Rodriguez, the comic book series was awarded multiple British Fantasy Awards for Best Comic, plus an Eisner Award for Best Writer during its run, and it was adapted for the 2020 Netflix show of the same name starring Connor Jessup and Emilia Jones.
8. Full Throttle (2019)
Hill’s latest short story collection was released just last year, and features 13 supernatural horror tales to keep your heart pumping and head spinning. In the title story Throttle, also co-written by King, a faceless trucker goes up against a terrifying group of motorcycle outlaws in the Nevada desert, while in another story, Faun, a gang of hunters break through into a fairy tale world. Exploring the complexities of the human psyche through his trademark sinister lens, Full Throttle is the perfect end-of-summer nightmare fodder for anyone else who is about to be missing NOS4A2.
What’s up first on your Joe Hill reading list?Read More