Review: In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill

Posted: December 5, 2013 in Reviews
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I recently had the fantastic opportunity to listen to the audio version of “In The Tall Grass” by Stephen King and Joe Hill.

This is a novella and its a short but very creepy ride.

Basically the story involves a young pregnant girl Becky Demuth, on the road for a vacation with her twin brother, Cal. She’s going through the process of deciding whether or not she’ll keep the baby or put it up for adoption. They pull off the highway to investigate the sound of a young boy crying out for help from a field of very long grass.  They quickly find themselves disoriented and lost and are separated and confronted by various denizens of this field.

This is a ripping read, or listen, and a great way to pass an afternoon or evening. The audio version, narrated by Stephen Lang, is well read.  Some audiobook narrators, frankly, suck. Stephen Lang does not but nor does he give certain scenes the sense of urgency that truly good narrator would have.  I found the voice of the young boy to be particularly annoying but I guess it fit in well with the story, especially when Cal exclaims “Fuck the kid!” and starts his desperate attempt to get out of the long grass. I guess, perhaps, that I was thinking “thank fuck that kid was annoying, get out of there!” more than I was worrying about safety of the characters

This story has the feel of some of King’s earlier stories, such as “Children of the Corn” but I felt that some of the punchier moments in the story were almost definitely Joe Hill’s handiwork. I could be wrong though!  Guessing who wrote which parts was definitely part of the fun of reading this collaborative piece.

The story is, in some respects, something that we can all relate to. Everyone knows the feeling of someone calling out for help. Everyone knows the kind of disturbing primal fear that ensues when you’re lost, and most of us have been disoriented or lost in a nature setting (forest/bush land/etc) at least once in our lives. There is something in this story that everyone will find compelling.  There’s also something in this story that most people will find repulsive as well.  I wont go into details but the story is slightly gorey and the ending is a tad sickening. Its certainly no splatterpunk or bizarro bloodbath, there are a few scenes of intense violence and a final ungodly act which is the icing on the cake.

The story starts slow and builds up to a bang and has an outro/epilogue which makes you think “oh god no..” and, in a way, leaves itself open for a sequel, even.  I can see this one being made into a pulp horror screenplay and a B grade direct-to-video movie one day.  This is good, old fashioned horror.  *thumbs up*

Worth a read or a listen and most horror fans will enjoy the tale.
I spent a lot of time wondering which bits Stephen or Joe wrote and what the father-son collaborative process was like.

Get it. Read it. Enjoy it.

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