Well, if I ever wanted to start off the New Year with just the right type of creepy story, I did myself right by picking NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. You know I love me a scary book, right? The sort that chills the back of the neck and makes me doubt the shadows when I get up in the middle of the night?
Originally, I started this in October thinking it would be perfect for Halloween and simultaneously help take my mind off severe back pains caused by pregnancy's third trimester. It was, but three weeks later, I gave birth to my first baby, and I had to put the book back on the shelf. After all, every three-hour feedings for the new little one had to take a priority.
But then December came around. The middle of the month introduced routines that I was getting used to with my precious baby and I found I could carve time throughout the day and night to dive into Joe Hill's frightening tale, and I was not disappointed in the least bit. At all. In fact, I still shudder when I think about the story. (Ornaments. The moon! A car. Teeth! I never did like the name Bing. Ride that bike, Vic! I love you, Lou!)
Young Victoria McQueen learns that when she rides her bicycle through a beat-up old bridge no one uses anymore, and thinks of things just right, she can ride right through and end up exactly where she needs to be. It's how she finds the odd and occasional missing item and whether it's right around the corner or a thousand miles away, Vic can use her bicycle and bridge to get there to bring that lost item back home. Harmless though it may seem, one day it was going to be deep trouble she'd find herself in.
Charles Manx has a way of skipping into his own mythical highways and bridges to get to Christmasland, a place where it's Christmas all day, every day. It's the place where he brings the kids he's been kidnapping for years and Vic happens to be the only kid who's ever been there and escaped. When Manx kidnaps her own son years later, Vic knows it's time to go back to the land she's always tried to forget, but never could.
Never being one to sound New York Times-y, I have to write that Joe Hill is just freakin' awesome. His writing is absolutely fluid, beautiful and descriptive, and there isn't one thing left unanswered or unmentioned in NOS4A2. And while there is a serious journey to bring her son back home, there is also a beautiful and painful love story between Vic and a hero named Lou that broke my heart. What a heady way to be introduced to Joe Hill's works. I have been meaning to pick up one of his books for a while, especially when I heard he happens to be the son of one of my favorites, Stephen King. Part of me wanted to do a sneaky little comparison to see who might be better. I would be fair about it, though. I wouldn't compare one book to all of what I've read from King so far. I'm very fair. I promise.
And so, NOS4A2 is now on my shelf next to Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, Stephen King's The Stand, Donna Tartt's The Secret History, George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones and a few others of my favorite books that I've reviewed on this site and loved. And true to form, Joe Hill has his father's knack of creating a universe and even intertwining it with Stephen King's world. With a nod to the evil gang of the True Knot from King's Doctor Sleep, Hill is stealthily building his own universe of inside jokes and connections that only a true fan can decipher. It's a fun club to be a part of, my friends. Therefore, I'd suggest you start reading Joe Hill sooner rather than later. You never be the one who has to catch up.
Note: Hill ties up every end succinctly. Nothing is left hanging. But let me give you one tip: Read every page. That's right. Read the Acknowledgements and especially don't forget to read the last couple of pages about the font used for the book. I know. That sounds weird. But it's important. Don't skip. You wouldn't want to get on the "Naughty" list, right?
Publisher: William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Release Date: 10/15/2013
FTC Disclosure: I gleefully, and selfishly, purchased this book so I could keep it all to myself.
About the Author (from his website)
Joe Hill is the author of three novels, Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and NOS4A2, as well as a prize-winning collection of stories, 20th Century Ghosts. He also wrote a pair of comics: Locke & Key and Wraith (which ties into the world of NOS4A2). He's been awarded an Eisner as well.
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