Stephen King & Joe Hill IN THE TALL GRASS Book Review

I’ve become quite disappointed with Stephen King’s more recent writings, but seeing as though he had co-written IN THE TALL GRASS with his son Joe Hill I thought perhaps Joe could bring something new to the table. I’ve never read anything by King’s son but even if he has only half the talent his father did early in his career then I thought it would be worth looking into.

Unfortunately IN THE TALL GRASS was yet another disappointing short story much like the eBook exclusive MILE 81 last year. And speaking of MILE 81 there are a few similarities between it and this new story. In fact this new story feels very much like a mash up of MILE 81 and something like THE SHINING, which is peculiar because MILE 81 even felt like a mash up of other King stories. Is he losing his touch? Running out of ideas? Maybe, or maybe he’s been filling in time with mediocre shorts like this while working on his SHINING sequel DR SLEEP. Either way I was not very impressed by IN THE TALL GRASS.

The story follows brother and sister Cal and Becky who are on a sightseeing road trip through Kansas when all of a sudden they hear a cry for help from the side of the road. They pull over and scan the area seeing only a few old buildings and a church, and across the road a huge field of tall green grass. The cry for help comes from the tall grass. Cal and Becky pull into the church parking lot and failing to notice that all of the other cars there have visibly been sitting immobile for days or even weeks, they make their way towards the tall grass. After making their way into the six foot high grass Cal and Beck get separated as they search for the owner of the pleading voice. Why is the grass so tall? Why does the voice seem to be moving around? And why can Cal and Becky hear each other but not seem to find each other no matter how hard they try? Will they ever escape the tall grass?

Thankfully IN THE TALL GRASS is relatively short at only around 48 pages or so, because if it were any longer I probably would have given up on it. It’s interesting enough to begin with and is written well but once you realize that it’s starting to sound all so familiar it suddenly becomes a lot less interesting and the ending is quite simply a letdown. Another notable aspect of the story is the inclusion of quite a bit of descriptive gore, and I’m sure in the past I’ve heard King himself admit that going for the gross-out factor is pretty much the last resort in horror fiction which I don’t find particularly reassuring. In fact the best part about this story is that it comes with sneak previews of King’s new novel DR SLEEP and his son’s new novel NOS4R2. I downloaded this short story on my phone and it was quite cheap so I’m not too bummed about wasting my money but nevertheless I expected a lot more from the legendary Stephen King and son. If you’re a King completionist then this will be a must-read but otherwise if you’ve read most of his other short stories you won’t find anything new here.

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