NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2

NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that...

Title:NOS4A2
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Edition Language:English

NOS4A2 Reviews

  • Chris McGrath

    Joe Hill has described this 700+ page book as "my senior PhD thesis on horror", about a very bad 140 year old man who kidnaps children and takes them to a terrible place called Christmasland. This is an accurate surface description, but doesn't even come close to describing what this book is really about: the truest kind of love, which can come from even the most flawed human beings.

    Yes, this is a horror novel, no question, and it's one of the best I've ever read. As with Hill's other novels, th

    Joe Hill has described this 700+ page book as "my senior PhD thesis on horror", about a very bad 140 year old man who kidnaps children and takes them to a terrible place called Christmasland. This is an accurate surface description, but doesn't even come close to describing what this book is really about: the truest kind of love, which can come from even the most flawed human beings.

    Yes, this is a horror novel, no question, and it's one of the best I've ever read. As with Hill's other novels, the first portion of the book moves along very well and introduces us to this reality and all the unnatural and scary things that are possible here. Then as the story progresses, the characters themselves flesh out into something much deeper than archetypes or plot devices. Each major player in this book is so perfectly fleshed-out, it's easy to begin believing that this story is true and that we are seeing the inner dialog of real people.

    One of the most interesting bits about this story is that in many books like it, the main character will insist that their story or special ability is real, or will likely sound crazy, trying to get everyone else around them to believe them. Hill turns this on its head and gives us a much more realistic result: the poor soul experiencing these unnatural things repeatedly has to try to figure out whether she is certifiably insane or not. Rather than trying to convince everyone else this stuff is really happening, she has to convince herself. It makes for a very satisfying read and makes her that much more sympathetic.

    And so, while my first impression was simply that this was a great, creepy book, the final third proves that this is truly a beautiful work of literature, with much to say about the human condition, particularly the strange, confusing, and often conflicted love that children and their parents have for each other. It's rare that I am truly moved by any book, and never before have I been moved by a horror novel.

    I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you can't stomach gruesome and disturbing scenes of child kidnapping and violent gore, then this certainly won't be for you; but anyone who can owes it to themselves to read the new great modern horror novel. He's proven that he has all of his father's skill much earlier in life, and writes better endings as well.

    Site note: I love the references to Shawshank prison and Derry, Maine, as well as Lovecraft from Hill's Locke & Key series, which officially designates Hill's writing as happening in the greater Dark Tower universe. This has no impact whatsoever on the story, but is a nice little Easter egg for Stephen King fans.

  • Nataliya

    Well, this book did not cure me of this dislike in the slightest, nossir. Read it, and you'll understand.

    There's something just *off* in that fake strained cheerfulness that emanates from it. After this book, I dislike it even more because the annoying in it has been joined by the sinister undertones.

    Well, this book did not cure me of this dislike in the slightest, nossir. Read it, and you'll understand.

    There's something just *off* in that fake strained cheerfulness that emanates from it. After this book, I dislike it even more because the annoying in it has been joined by the sinister undertones.

    As a side note, I've also never been a fan of personalized license plates, either. Making a connection between 'Nosferatu' and NOS4A2 takes special neurons that I apparently lack.

    -----------------

    It's confident and at times ruthless, moving along at a determined pace, never looking back. It has a brand of scary that's also fun, interspersing moments of gore with character development - all that, in a way, resembles the spirit of the earlier works of Hill's famous father (c'mon, you know the comparison to Stephen King was inevitable - but Joe Hill, despite sharing elements of his work with King's writing, has a voice that is nevertheless distinctly his own).

    Since childhood,

    had the ability to find lost things. Her way to do so was a bit unconventional: she would speed on her Raleigh bike over a covered bridge - the one that had collapsed a while ago but remained standing in her mind - right to the place where the lost thing was. But, as with anything in life, there's a price to pay - it's not just the debilitating physical side effects that Vic experiences;

    has a different ride - a black 1937

    that would have made a perfect match for Stephen King's infamous Christine. It takes him on a road to

    , a very real place nevertheless contained in the dark recesses of the madman's imagination - a place to which he has brought probably a hundred kids over the years, leaving his henchman to dispense of the mothers and fathers of those children.

    Manx has come across Vic when she was still a child - the chilling encounter neither of them can forget years later. Now, many years later, he's on the road again - and Vic, having been through a lot in her life, with the history of institutionalizations and mental breakdowns, having been living in fear of receiving a call from the dead children in Christmasland, - well, Vic is a mother to a young boy now, and would die to protect him.

    -----------

    He creates memorable characters, and Vic McQueen is definitely not the one to easily forget. Tough-as-nails but infinitely vulnerable Vic, with her damaged cracking mind but enough ferocity and fierce protectiveness to become a formidable threat is fascinating. She screws up over and over again, and manages to survive under the blows life deals her, and it's actually painful to watch her get yet another punch from cruel fate. And then, when she refuses to give up, when she charges evil armed with little but a wrench, when she knows she's headed for sure death and yet does not waver from her path, - with all that you cannot help but desperately hope that somehow she will manage to overcome the odds.

    And, the rest of the cast, even though they pale when compared to Vic, are quite well written, too. For instance, the Gasmask Man is terrifying and revoltingly pathetic at the same time, Maggie's presence fills the few pages she appears on with sad and gentle life, and young Wayne's strength and fragility are beautifully interwoven with each other.

    He does not shy away from packing his novel with action scenes that are vivid and crisp clear. No, he does not quite avoid the pitfalls of having his 100-lbs heroine take an insane number of punches and yet still remain functional - but he does tend to do that less than many other writers.

    This book easily lived to all of my expectations, and Joe Hill has cemented his status as much more than just a son of one of my favorite writers. He proved that he's not a couple-of-books wonder but rather a skilled writer whose books I will be looking forward to for many years to come.

  • Will Byrnes

    Christmas was one of the best things about being a kid. There is nothing quite like the anticipation leading up to Christmas morning. And even now, having achieved geezerhood, I am still a complete sucker for the big day. Every year a real tree, the lights, sorting through and selecting from the decades and decades of collected ornaments, the gifts, and hopefully a tree skirt free of cat vomit. I put on

    , wife by my side, hopefully at least one of m

    Christmas was one of the best things about being a kid. There is nothing quite like the anticipation leading up to Christmas morning. And even now, having achieved geezerhood, I am still a complete sucker for the big day. Every year a real tree, the lights, sorting through and selecting from the decades and decades of collected ornaments, the gifts, and hopefully a tree skirt free of cat vomit. I put on

    , wife by my side, hopefully at least one of my now-grown kids at hand, and keep the tissues handy. I find it completely heartwarming. One must wonder, however, how Christmas might have been celebrated in the King household. I suppose it is possible that Dad left his darker impulses by his keyboard. Did they share hot chocolate like the rest of us, or maybe add bits of human flesh instead of marshmallows. Hot toddy made with blood from a guy named Todd? Brownies made with under-age Girl Scouts? Did their whipped cream scream? Well, probably not, but one

    wonder.

    , the author’s latest tale from the dark side, takes a beloved annual celebration and gives it the special family treatment. If you like your Christmas trees decorated with sparkling abominations, your Santa more by way of an oversized, but underfed mortician, and your Santa’s special elf a rapist psycho-killer, then this is the book you will want to find frightening off the other packages under your tree next Christmas.

    Joseph Hillstrom King, under

    Joe Hill, is a man who not only would be King, he already is one. He has been pretty busy the last few years, writing up a storm,

    ,

    , and

    , establishing himself as a respected, successful writer of horror fiction, picking up at least eleven literary awards to date. Although his career has been relatively brief, he has, with

    , grown up to a level where he can glare, eye-to-eye, with the best of contemporary horror writers, even that guy across the table at Christmas dinner.

    is a work of impressive creativity, and one that may give you many a sleepless night, so powerful are some of the images he has created. But the core of the book is Victoria McQueen, Vic, The Brat. And how fitting that a King makes his heroine a queen. Applying a familiar horror-tale trope, the young female hero, we are introduced to Vic as an eight-year-old. This kid loves her bike. (like another McQueen, of the Steve variety, in The Great Escape) But then she has good reason to. It takes her where she

    to go, whether that happens to be around the block or across a magically bespoke bridge that takes her across geography, wormhole style. It comes in handy when she desperately wants to locate, say, a lost necklace that figures in her parents latest screaming match, opening for her a personal

    to take her to the proper destination. It takes her home again, of course. But it exacts a toll. And the journey through it can be harrowing.

    Countering this adorable heroine is Charlie Manx.

    so adorable. This definitely not so goodtime Charlie abducts children to his special place, Christmasland, taking advantage of their unhappiness to seduce them with a King-family version of Neverland. What if it were Christmas every day? Charlie’s number one supporter is Bing Partridge. Bing’s latest accomplishment was the murder of his parents, but not before engaging in unspeakable behavior of another sort. He may be dreaming of Christmas but it is more likely to be fright than white, and there are fouler things than partridges in the trees he favors. He lives, fittingly on Bloch Lane, named, we suspect, for the author of

    . Once teamed up with Charlie, he makes use of his access to a particular sort of gas, sevoflurane, to subdue his victims. The stuff smells like gingerbread.

    You won’t find Christmasland on any map, but it exists. Charley drives a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. Not exactly a sleigh, but useful for transporting Charley and his goodies here and there. Actually, it is more a case of him bringing the children to his dubious gifts than it is of the gifts being brought to the children. Charlie has been snatching children for a long time. So we have the goodie and we have the baddies.

    Vic becomes that most horrifying of nightmares, an adolescent. And in a fit of rage against her divorced parents goes looking for trouble. Before you can say “Feliz Navidead,” the Brat finds herself riding into a Charlie lair, the cutely named “Sleigh House.” A bleak house indeed, as you might guess, and Vic has to resort to some extreme measures to make good her escape. Of course, once she does she earns a permanent place on Charlie’s

    list. One positive that comes out of this ordeal is that when Vic is fleeing Charlie she is picked up on the highway by a passing biker, the large, leather-clad Lou Carmody. Classic meet-cute and oh, someone is trying to kill me.

    It turns out that Vic and her nemesis are not the only ones with a certain gift. When Vic crosses her Shorter Way Bridge to the place of business of Maggie Leigh (second possible Psycho reference?) she meets another person with a special talent, one particularly suited to a librarian. It’s not heaven, though. It’s Iowa. Later Vic’s dad joins up and there is some help from beyond the grave as well. Team Charlie has a lot of young recruits, too. One might be forgiven at times for thinking that he might be giving new meaning to the term “cold calls” as he has his maybe-dead minions manning (would that be childing?) the phones to harass our hero.

    The King family seems to have figured out how to make us care for their heroes, and Hill has done a nice job of that here. Vic is sympathetic, not just for her courage and determination, but for her failings as well. And there is plenty of failing to go around here, but also generous doses of redemption.

    And there is no shortage of action. It all builds to a very explosive climax. There are occasional bits of fun in here as well. Hill engages in a joke having to do with Checkhov’s gun that is sure to bring a smile. And he takes a cutesy swipe at Henry Rollins, in the quote above. No idea if this is a friendly poke, or a straight up dig.

    There are some soft spots as well. Charlie is a pretty bad sort. Not enough attention is addressed to looking at how he came to be that way. It might have helped make him more understandable, if not sympathetic, which is always more interesting than the straight up boogie man. Bing is boogie man enough, despite his less than imposing façade, his child-like insecurity. And what is it that gives certain objects their magical properties? Never addressed. Hill takes on the somewhat softball difference in value between happiness and fun, which certainly has relevance to our consumer culture, but is far from novel.

    Still and all, this is top notch horror, signaling not necessarily that a King is born, but that one has arrived and is ready to ascend to the throne.

    Happy Horrordays!

    =============================

    Hill put up a nice

    for the book on his site

    4/29/13 - The New York Times

    by Janet Maslin

    In Stephen King's 2013 release,

    , he offers at least two nods to

    . Thanks Pop.

  • Delee

    I will not compare Stephen King's son to him...I will not compare Stephen King's son to him.....I will not...............compare....

    Joe Hill deserves to be in a class all of his own. Don'tcha think?

    I put off reading NOS4A2 for awhile. I read Heart-Shaped Box first... Which I really liked- but this...this was much better!!!

    Sooooooooooooooo many friends said- "You have to read NOS4A2!!!!...Oh you haven't read NOS4A2???? What is wrong with you??? Why haven't read NOS4A2?? What are you stupid?" One

    I will not compare Stephen King's son to him...I will not compare Stephen King's son to him.....I will not...............compare....

    Joe Hill deserves to be in a class all of his own. Don'tcha think?

    I put off reading NOS4A2 for awhile. I read Heart-Shaped Box first... Which I really liked- but this...this was much better!!!

    Sooooooooooooooo many friends said- "You have to read NOS4A2!!!!...Oh you haven't read NOS4A2???? What is wrong with you??? Why haven't read NOS4A2?? What are you stupid?" One of those friends was Stepheny- and fighting it became pointless. Have I mentioned before that Stepheny is difficult? I think I have....a time or two...

    So fast forward...buddy read at gun point with-

    ,

    ,

    ,

    Massachusetts 1986:

    With the help of her trusty bike and a bridge called The Shorter Way- 12 year old Victoria McQueen finds lost things- keys, lost pets, jewelry...and one unfortunate day...she finds kidnapper Charles Manx.

    ...a day that will change her life in ways she could have never imagined.

    Somehow I went into reading NOS4A2 having noooooooooooo idea what it was about. Yes- I knew there was an old scary dude...and some kidnapped children and a Christmas theme...but that was about it. I highly recommend doing that..because this book was full of sooooooooooo many surprises.

    Bravo Joe Hill!! *clap clap clap* -Definitely one of my favorite reads this year!

  • Dan Schwent

    When Victoria McQueen was young, she had a unique gift: she could summon an old covered bridge that would take her wherever she wanted to go. After an encounter with Charles Manx, a Rolls Royce Wraith-driving kidnapper with a similar ability, her life is torn to pieces. Twelve years later, Charles Manx comes looking for the girl that got away and not even death is an obstacle...

    First off, I think the title, NOS4A2 (Nosferatu, get it?), while clever, is very misleading since Manx isn't a vampire.

    When Victoria McQueen was young, she had a unique gift: she could summon an old covered bridge that would take her wherever she wanted to go. After an encounter with Charles Manx, a Rolls Royce Wraith-driving kidnapper with a similar ability, her life is torn to pieces. Twelve years later, Charles Manx comes looking for the girl that got away and not even death is an obstacle...

    First off, I think the title, NOS4A2 (Nosferatu, get it?), while clever, is very misleading since Manx isn't a vampire. Fortunately, that's the only complaint I have about this awesome book.

    The lead, Victoria McQueen, is a broken woman whose life is thrown into further chaos when Charles Manx thrusts himself back into it. She rises to the occasion and does what any mother would do when her son is kidnapped: kick ass and take names!

    Charles Manx, the villain, is like an even creepier version of Willy Wonka, abducting Children and taking them to another world, Christmasland, where it's Christmas every day and the children become feral little monsters. His Wraith is a pretty chilling car, with its inescapable back seat and mind of its own. I couldn't wait for Manx to get what was coming to him.

    The supporting cast is also well drawn. Victoria's baby-daddy Lou, son Bruce Wayne, FBI agent Hutt, and Bing are all fairly memorable characters. I loved Maggie Leigh and hated to see her go out the way she did.

    There were some Easter eggs in the text, references to It, The Stand, The Shawshank Redemption, and my favorite, the tie in to the Dark Tower when Manx mentions the doors to Mid-World. Heck, Derry is mentioned so I think it's safe to assume Hill's stories are part of the King-verse and thus the Dark Tower.

    This was my first Joe Hill book and it won't be the last. While he writes like his father, he doesn't seem to have many of his father's bad habits. His prose reminds me of Stephen King from back when he was still in touch with his Richard Matheson/John D. MacDonald roots: chilling, evocative, and not long-winded or over-written. Even the fates of the characters reminded me of King from his heyday.

    Five stars. That is all.

  • Stepheny

    Joe Hill should just change his name to Joe THE FUCKING MAN Hill. Anyone care to sign my petition? :D

    When I read

    I was a little underwhelmed. I felt that, while it was a great

    novel, it lost something crucial along the way. But when I read

    something inside of me just got it. I could totally dig it. Some books have an effect on me that is just impossible to explain; I love it as if it were a part of me.

    Going into NOS4A2 I was very nervous. It’s hard to LOVE a book

    Joe Hill should just change his name to Joe THE FUCKING MAN Hill. Anyone care to sign my petition? :D

    When I read

    I was a little underwhelmed. I felt that, while it was a great

    novel, it lost something crucial along the way. But when I read

    something inside of me just got it. I could totally dig it. Some books have an effect on me that is just impossible to explain; I love it as if it were a part of me.

    Going into NOS4A2 I was very nervous. It’s hard to LOVE a book so much when the author still has other books. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. I was even more afraid that I would like it more than my beloved Horns

    ! I have a hard time ever accepting that the next book I read will be my new favorite.

    During my trip to Bangor, where I was hoping to meet Stephen King, I was able to pick up a copy of NOS4A2. That’s right! My copy travelled all eleven and a half hours home with me. There’s a certain bond already created with that book and me. I was lucky enough to have a group of ladies to read it with me.

    I believe that NOS4A2 will be Joe THE FUCKING MAN Hill’s standout book. There will be the over-the-moon crazies, like yours truly, who will rave over Horns. BUT, I think NOS4A2 will be the one that everyone talks about; and it will be for good reason.

    We meet the Brat at a young age and follow her throughout her life. Nothing is ever easy for her and my heart broke for her in so many ways while reading this book I stopped keeping track. While the Brat is our main protagonist, our heroine, I believe there were two characters that I loved more: Maggie Leigh and Lou Carmody. (Hey, I’m a poet and didn’t even know it!)

    Lou is the best kind of hero- the kind who is modest and shy and calls you dude because he isn’t all that great in etiquette. He’s overweight and underestimates his own abilities. He’s sweet and kind and gentle. He is truly a wonderful character that I will hold in my heart for a long time to come.

    Miss Maggie Leigh. What can I say about Maggie? Well, for starts, all I could picture when reading her character was Juliette Lewis. (#MickeyandMallory4Ever) Anyway- Maggie is a character that you just can’t help but love. You want to reach through the pages and make everything in her life better. I don’t want to say much about her in hopes that you’ll read the book and love her for all the same unspoken reasons I did.

    Charlie Manx and Bing are two of the creepiest villains ever. Quick note- Charlie’s overbite and teeth kept getting mentioned which made me resort to images of Gary Busey. The villains are NOT vampires, so stop thinking you don’t want to read this book because it’s a vampire book and wahnnn wahhhnnn wahhhhn. It’s a great book, truly. I would tell you more about these villains and how they aren’t vampires, but really, just read it.

    I think that Joe THE FUCKING MAN Hill has a great writing career ahead of him. He is a remarkably talented young writer and I say that NOT just because I am a fan of his father, but as an avid, well-read individual. I look forward to watching the progression of his writing.

    Buddy read with some fabulous ladies:

    The one and only

    , the oh so

    , and of course my

    !!!!

    And how could I forget

    ?!

  • Susanne Strong

    5 Stars.

    One of my top favorite books of all time (which should be obvious since I have now read the book twice and have listened to the audiobook once, narrated masterfully by Kate Mulgrew, as well).

    A Creepy, Disturbing Thrill Ride, with a flawed, yet lovable heroine, NOS4A2 is Joe Hill at his best.

    Victoria (Vic) McQueen is no ordinary girl. She has a bike and with it, she can travel across a bridge, which takes her through space, from one part of the country to the next, in mere seconds. As a

    5 Stars.

    One of my top favorite books of all time (which should be obvious since I have now read the book twice and have listened to the audiobook once, narrated masterfully by Kate Mulgrew, as well).

    A Creepy, Disturbing Thrill Ride, with a flawed, yet lovable heroine, NOS4A2 is Joe Hill at his best.

    Victoria (Vic) McQueen is no ordinary girl. She has a bike and with it, she can travel across a bridge, which takes her through space, from one part of the country to the next, in mere seconds. As a young girl, her bike was a blue, Raleigh Tuff Burner. It was the coolest thing she had ever seen. And when she traveled across the bridge? She found things. Lost objects: a missing bracelet, a missing photograph. As an adult, her motorbike is a Triumph and she finds answers to questions and she saves lives.

    When Vic was young, she encountered the likes of one Charles Talent Manx and his ride was a Wraith. A 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith, to be exact. It is an extension of him. It does what he wants it to. Manx is evil incarnate and with his ride, he can travel from this world to his own inscape, where his home, known as “Christmasland” is located. Why? To populate his own inscape with children, of course. So that they can celebrate Christmas. Every. Single. Day. But these aren’t ordinary children. And Manx isn’t an ordinary man. He is a man convicted of heinous crimes, and he simply cannot die. And he thrives upon stealing a child’s innocence. And the remnants of those children whose innocence he steals, end up in Christmasland. He accomplishes this task with a little help from a friend, so to speak. That friend is Bing Partidge, a sick little man, who is eager to get to Christmasland himself.

    Vic is the only child to have ever escaped Charles Manx and he has never forgotten it. Now that she is an adult, Manx decides to pay her back for it. The only way he knows how. Through her kid: Bruce Wayne Carmody. Son of the sweetest, kindest guy you’ll ever meet, Lou Carmody. He is a teddy-bear of a man, who fixes motorcycles and truly loves two things in life. His son Wayne and Vic. Victoria has never really been good at anything except for finding things. Yet, for some reason, the people in her life don’t give up on her. That goes for Lou and Maggie Lee - the only person who can help Vic stop Manx and find Wayne.

    The path that Vic goes on to stop Manx is a crazy, turbulent one. It is a ride that I, personally, have taken three times (and have lived to tell the tale). It is wildly imaginative and definitely scary. And it is at times, a little horrific, but it is stellar nonetheless. It is one I encourage each of you to get on (preferably on the Raleigh or the Triumph not the Wraith) and hold on for your dear life.

    Vic is a heroine like no other. If I needed someone to have my back, I would want it to be her. And Maggie Lee? Y-y-yess Puuhpplease. They are both flawed, tragic characters. But they have heart. And I loved them both dearly. As for Lou? He is one heck of a guy. What more can I say except for DUUDE??!! If you’ve ever read a Joe Hill novel, then you know that he is an expert at writing villains. Charles Manx might be his best. He sure scared the heck out of me.

    In case it’s not crystal clear: I ADORE this book. Love doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about it. I loved it the first two times I read and this last time, I decided to listen to the audiobook and if possible, I loved it even more. Why, you ask? Because it was narrated, by the multi-talented, Kate Mulgrew. For this audiobook alone, she made all 30 characters’ voices distinct. I was terrified by the voice of Charles Talent Manx. Just thinking of it, I get shivers down my spine. I didn’t think it possible for one person to change their inflection, intonation and/or their voice so many times to sound like so many different people but Ms. Mulgrew handled it skillfully. She made NOS4A2 rise to yet another level.

    Below is a link to an interview with the magnificent Kate Mulgrew about her method of narration (which includes an excerpt to her narration of another Joe Hill novel, The Fireman – which I must now listen to the audiobook of (even though I’ve already read that book. Good thing I loved that one too!)). If this doesn’t convince you guys to listen to one of the books she narrated, I don’t know what will. Personally, I hope you choose NOS4A2. It might scare you, but it’ll be worth it!

    (

    ).

    Published on Goodreads and Amazon on 3/27/17.

  • Wil Wheaton

    Joe Hill tells another wonderful story that is scary, disturbing, beautiful, sad, and surprisingly touching.

    Read it all the way to the end. All the way.

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    Some people are born with bad wiring. Some people get caught in a whirlpool of one tragic circumstance after another that has a detrimental effect on their sanity. Some people are too fragile; some are too hard, and some accumulate so much baggage that their soul gets lost

    Some people are born with bad wiring. Some people get caught in a whirlpool of one tragic circumstance after another that has a detrimental effect on their sanity. Some people are too fragile; some are too hard, and some accumulate so much baggage that their soul gets lost in the jumble. To stick a pin in a man like Charles Talent Manx and compose a label that will define exactly what level of crazy he is would take a team of talented psychologists.

    Crazy is one thing, but when crazy becomes wrapped in a smelly, wooly blanket of cosmic evil, things that shouldn’t be possible, suddenly become so substantial that they actually wink into existence. The whole concept of Christmasland sprang from the demented mind of Charlie Manx.

    You might think to yourself that Christmasland doesn’t sound that scary. In fact, it even sounds like a great place to take the kids over winter break. The only problem is that its creator is bat shit crazy, so there might be candy canes and Christmas trees, but there are also razor blades and very, very sharp teeth.

    It is

    stepping out of the silver screen and intersecting with a sliver of Colorado.

    Now, you can’t just drive to Christmasland even if you do have a general idea of where it is. Not just anyone is welcome. Manx has a key, a horcrux that might very well have eaten his soul, in the form of a vintage 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. He drives it back and forth between the real world and Christmasland.

    Vic McQueen has a key as well, a bicycle that when she rides it can take her over the Shorter Way Bridge to anywhere in the world where something she lost exists. On one of her journeys, she goes to Here, Iowa, and meets a librarian named Maggie who has stuttering issues. She also has Scrabble tiles that can help her much the same way Vic’s bicycle helps her. Maggie is, by far, my favorite character in the book because she says stuff like this:

    And she is a naughty librarian too.

    It only stands to reason that Vic with her key and Manx with his key would end up in the same place eventually. Manx, with the help of a loathsome companion named Bing who is a very, very dangerous dingaling, is going around the country “liberating” abused children from parents and taking these kids back to Christmasland. These kids, once they arrive, grow rows of serrated teeth and become hungry for munching on adults. If you are an adult who somehow accidentally falls through to Christmasland, you are breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, depending on how fast you can run.

    Vic and Manx intersect. She helps to put Manx in prison, and that is when the phone calls begin. They are kids from Christmasland, condemning her for her role in Manx’s incarceration. She spends time in and out of mental institutions. For the sake of her sanity, she tries to forget things like the Shorter Way Bridge, Rolls Royces with vanity license plates, a skeletal gray man with red eyes, and children singing demented Christmas carols.

    But now she has a son, and Manx is coming for him. She is going to have to remember everything and believe again if she is going to have a chance to save him.

    I’ve been following Joseph Hillstrom King’s career very closely. It has been impressive to me that he decided to be a writer, a profession that his father has dominated for decades, but also that he decided to be a horror writer, forcing direct comparisons with his father’s work. For a man capable of inducing so much fear in others, he has shown no fear in his decision to be a writer. Instead of thinking of his father and his father’s fame as a hinderance to his own career, he must have decided to consider both those aspects assets. He did shorten his name for his writing pseudonym, but if the thought was to hide his relationship to his father, then it has turned out to be one of the worst kept secrets in publishing.

    His father was always good about dropping pop culture and geek references into his books, and so is Hill. There is a moment when the father of Vic’s child is giving him advice.

    Wisdom, such as this, passed to your offspring will insure that your kids will be mutant nerds.

    The Americans and the British publishers used two different covers. The collector in me always likes this because with an author that I like this much I enjoy having both books. Another interesting element is Charlie Manx’s vanity plate. The Americans went with NOS4A2, and the British went with NOS4R2. I find that it is always prudent to defer to our cousins across the pond when it comes to points of contention with the English language.

    Hill wrote a graphic novel called

    that gives his readers more background on Charlie Manx. I decided to read it first, even though it was published after NOS4A/R2, because I thought I might benefit from knowing the origins of Manx and might enjoy this book more. It certainly allowed me to consider Manx in a more well rounded light. In some strange way, he did feel like he was doing the right thing, that his madness was a John Brown type of madness, rather than the insanity of, say, a John Wayne Gacy.

    The true believers are generally the most dangerous humans. The cause supersedes any contemplation of the effects of their actions on others. Hill has created characters and a story I won’t soon forget. I can guarantee you all one thing that if I see a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith gliding down the street in my direction I will flee like my life depends on it. This is one of the hazards of being a reader with an overactive imagination being matched with a writer with expansive creative ideas. This could prove to be Hill’s masterpiece.

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  • Pouting Always

    I think the books hardest to get into are the horror ones because it's really a thin line between something being scary and it becoming funny and not believable so I really have to give credit to Hill because even though the book was long he kept me engaged the whole time and even though the concept easily could've turned ridiculous he managed to keep it creepy, like every time Charles Manx was doing something I can't even explain the anxiety and anger I felt especially when the book was at its

    I think the books hardest to get into are the horror ones because it's really a thin line between something being scary and it becoming funny and not believable so I really have to give credit to Hill because even though the book was long he kept me engaged the whole time and even though the concept easily could've turned ridiculous he managed to keep it creepy, like every time Charles Manx was doing something I can't even explain the anxiety and anger I felt especially when the book was at its climax in the end. I really enjoyed the supernatural vibe he struck where it felt like something that could exist in real life also because it isn't so ridiculous that some people may have a hidden gift like that. I really also love Victoria who is obviously the love of my life.


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