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Pure Cosmic Horror

In the tall grass

In The Tall Grass

by Stephen King and Joe Hill

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I won’t be mad, he’d told Tobin, but he was mad. Really mad. Not mad enough to kill a kid, of course not (probably of course not), but he wasn’t going to let the little Judas-goat out of his sight, either.―

Stephen King and Joe Hill, In The Tall Grass


Mile 81 meets N. in this e-book collaboration between Stephen King and Joe Hill.

In the Tall Grass begins with a sister and brother who pull off to the side of the road after hearing a young boy crying for help from beyond the tall grass. Within minutes they are disoriented, in deeper than seems possible, and they’ve lost one another. The boy’s cries are more and more desperate. What follows is a terrifying, entertaining, and masterfully told tale, as only Stephen King and Joe Hill can deliver.

In the Tall Grass was originally published in two parts in the June/July and August 2012 issues of Esquire magazine. This is their second collaboration since the novella Throttle, published in 2009.


Published October 9th 2012 by Simon Schuster Original TitleIn the Tall GrassISBN1442359889 (ISBN13: 9781442359888)Edition LanguageEnglishLiterary AwardsThis is Horror Award for Short Fiction (2012)

My Thoughts

Stephen King let it all hang out in this short story.

There are different types of horror. There is gore or disturbing; this is pretty self-explanatory. There is psychological horror where you fight your mind. There is killer horror; good ole’ fashioned slasher movies type horror. Then there is paranormal and cosmic horror. Cosmic horror is usually defined as Lovecraftian. It is the horror of the unknown, coupled with fear and awe. It is the type of horror that makes us feel small and insignificant. In the grass is cosmic horror. It is the most comic horror story I think I have ever read. This story, written in tandem with his son Joe Hill is a genius and probably the evilest and unforgiving horror story I have ever read. That is saying something considering how much King I have read.

The premise is simple, terribly, and cruelly simple. Twins, Becky, and Cal, are on a road trip. They are driving along listening to music when they overhear a child yelling for help in the tall grass on the side of the road. Anyone with a soul would stop for a screaming child. Maybe they got lost? They can’t find their mother, and we should go to help them.
Becky and Cal enter the grass and get lost. You would think that at this point, a neverending field of grass would be terrifying. King is “hold my beer” on this one. There is gore, violence, death, destruction, and so much more. I felt roasted and stripped bare after the ending.

“Want to see the rock? Want to lay on it naked, and feel me in you, beneath the pinwheel stars, while the grass sings our names?― 

Stephen King and Joe HillIn The Tall Grass

That ending! Dear god.

As I said, this is one of the most humbling and ferocious horror stories I have ever read. I am not sure that I can even recommend it, as I don’t think this story would sit well with most readers. But, if you are up to crush your soul a smidge, you should read it.

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