If you enjoy completely surreal, off the wall, contemporary horror then NOS4R2 should keep you hooked. The plot opens up into a nightmare landscape where nothing is as it seems. A land where a little girl slips through real time on her Raleigh bicycle and a demon dressed in human skin cruises around in a classic Rolls-Royce. Along the way you'll visit Christmasland, where children are taken after they've been 'rescued', and be introduced to other sinister 'inscapes' including a cemetery, library, Sleigh House and a derelict, bat infested bridge.
The criminally insane, deluded, dead and inexplicable haunt the pages alongside the children living in Christmasland and they're really not 'nice' kids. Joe Hill has created a great lead character in 'The Brat'. Absolutely loved the complexity of her nature as she grows from little girl on a Raleigh cycle into a strong woman with her path drawing ever closer to the shadow of that diabolical Rolls-Royce.
Running centrally to all the madness is an excellently worked vampire theme. If you look at the title of the novel 'NOS4R2' you'll perhaps be able to work out the name of one of our most classical and disturbing vampires (if you can't, don't worry, it quickly becomes obvious). NOS4R2 has featured in many a novel and movie and was always the boogeyman who scared me the most. I'm not going any deeper because I want you to read the book and discover him for yourself. However; watch out for the 'Gas Mask Man' with his gingerbread smoke....you never know where he's hiding and waiting.
Joe Hill has taken classical/contemporary horror and mixed it with themes of adventure and mystery. He's created something bizarre, darkly comical and surreal. Fascinating to sit back and experience this wacky, wonderful, complicated novel open up. You're spun from one chapter to the next without knowing how you got there and there's usually something nasty waiting for you just out of sight. Be prepared for some of the hard hitting themes to reach out and batter you. This is a dark fairytale and certainly not for those of a more 'sensitive' disposition.
I only have one word of caution. NOS4R2 is a 'horror story' relying on psychological tension, eerie landscapes, demonic characters and the totally insane to give you a chill, make you feel uncomfortable, without any obvious shock factor. That's the point. If you're expecting a traditional slasher/shocker you'll possibly be disappointed. Plenty of gore, murder and violence that's often gratuitous but; this is a novel much more concerned with the slow unfolding of a story than one created just to make you jump out of your seat.
I enjoyed 'Horns', not so much 'Heart Shaped Box', but with NOS4R2 Joe Hill has shown real talent. I read the first quarter in one sitting. Didn't even look at the clock. Addictive.
NOS4R2 is the latest book from the very impressive Joe Hill (son of some bloke called Stephen King), His previous books Heart Shaped Box and Horns both well worth buying and reading, in fact its the skill of each book that makes me want more.
NOS4R2 tells the story of Vic McQueen a young girl who using her own special gift is able to travel on her Raleigh Burner across a portal to a world hidden behind our own.
Unfortunately for Vic, she is not the only person who can cross between this world and the other, these worlds are also well-travelled by the evil Charlie Manx who kidnaps children in his black 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith after promising them a visit to Christmasland; a place where every day is Christmas Day and every night is Christmas Eve.
Both Vic and Charlie are vividly written characters, a skill that Joe Brings to all his books. We follow Vic through various stages of her life, in various scenarios, Allowing Joe to give the reader many insights into her personality. To allow a real emotional bond to grow between character and reader. You the reader are left fully invested in the safely of Vic, to the point the plot really gets your heart pumping.
Likewise, whilst Charlie Manx is the villain of the book he is also a multidimensional character rather than just being the bad guy who commits evil acts. Manx is delusional and dangerous, but also funny and charismatic (when the mood takes him). This makes his interaction with Vic all the more real, dark and unpredictable. Manx also has a sidekick, in the shape of his car, this is his means of transport, and his means of sucking the souls from children to spend their eternity in christmasland.
NOS4R2 is a brilliantly written tale of horror, compassion and Lost youthful innocence. Joe Hill's writing just gets better with every book. This book just keeps you going for every one of its 700 pages providing Horror, Humour and action from first to last page.
For a book that is not normally on my reading radar, I can't recommend this highly enough. I look forward to whatever Joe Hill writes next.
on 11 June 2013
What can you say about a book that was so amazing that 2 days after finishing I just cannot get the images thoughts ideas and great story telling out of my mind! There are so many ways you can access NOS4R2 (R2 not A2 here in the UK) On one level it's a simple crime novel, the evil one Charles Tenant Manx capturing children and being haunted by our tainted hero Vic McQueen (affectionately known as the brat by her dad)on another level it's fantasy... Vic McQueen travelling across the Shorter Way Bridge, a covered bridge that flicks in and out of existence, to do battle with Manx and face her nemesis in a battle of good and evil in Christmasland, and on a final level this is a horror story which has at it's centre a 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith driven by the evil Manx. I came to believe that the Rolls-Royce was the real star and in some strange way is joined in a kind of evil pack with Manx helping him feed of the children and turn them into a form of demonic child followers. It's the type of novel that totally absorbs you, demands your attention and in so doing rewards with a pulsating story and a list of characters reminiscent of only the best horror stories, my personal favourite The Gasmask Man Charlie Manx's personal assistant...and what a twisted individual he is :) The players and characters that fill the pages of NOS4R2 are in many ways as complex as Manx himself and all our tainted to some extent by their backgrounds and the paths they have chosen. Lou Carmody's Vic's part time lover and father of her son Wayne is a sorry and somewhat overweight individual, an unusual partner for Vic McQueen to have chosen. Maggie Leigh, librarian and friend, reader of the tiles and teller of the future has a constant and personal battle against her drug addiction, and Vic McQueen, our flawed hero, who alone attempts the rescue of her son Wayne, has spent time in a mental institution and endured a childhood in a family where domestic violence was not uncommon. This book meant so much to me as prior to reading I was fortunate to meet the author, Joe Hill, a true gentleman who appreciates his loyal and growing following here in the UK. His reputation and position as an author is now on the ascendancy and I look forward to his future publications. For lovers of great classic horror this book is the one you have been waiting for...read and enjoy!
on 14 November 2013
A bit like second albums by Stone Roses and The Clash, I was slightly disappointed after months of keen anticipation waiting for this to be published. I have enjoyed all his books so far, particularly short story collection 20th Century Ghosts, and thought that he had his own voice, although with echoes of his Dad. I think with this one, he has tried too hard for mainstream success and as a result has lost some of the freshness that defines his other books.
That said it is an enjoyable read, and probably deserves 4 stars-but dropped one because I was looking forward to it so much.
For a really great Fantasy/Horror book, try American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett. It has everything, plot, great characters and originality.
I have heard good things about this book ever since it came out, and after being fortunate enough to read an ARC of the graphic novel ‘The Wraith’ (which comes out in August) which is a standalone story and tells you so much more about Charlie Manx, his car, and Christmasland I knew it was high time that I read this.
Written by Joseph King under the name Joe Hill to try and stop people comparing his book to his father’s works this is a very good read, and he definitely gives his dad a run for his money. This story takes place over a few years as we see Victoria, also known as just the Brat or Vic grow up. When she is bought a bike in her youth she finds that she can travel through her imagination and use it to find things, but as she grows up she stops doing this. After she manages to get the evil Charlie Manx locked up she has definitely taken an evil soul out of circulation. But when Manx apparently dies and his body disappears it looks like the old reprobate could be back in business.
Years have passed and Vic has a son of her own, and Manx is out looking for revenge. He has his car back, his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith and a serial killer accomplice and now he wants Vic dead, and her son for himself. Manx takes children off to his own world, called Christmasland, where they will stay young and never die for all eternity, but is such a world as pleasant as it really sounds? Vic and Manx can both create Inscapes where they can travel through the normal world quickly by the use of their imaginations, but such powers don’t come cheaply, and they are not the only ones.
Has Manx met his nemesis in Vic? You will have to read this novel to find out. This is well written and hard to put down, taking you on a mesmerising trip where the real world and worlds of imagination clash. One thing is for sure, Charlie Manx may be one old evil so and so, but you won’t forget him in a hurry, or his car. As you read this book you will also realise why his car has the vanity plate NOS4R2. I should point out that if you see this novel with the title NOS4A2, it is the same story but the American’s pronunciation of the A is different thus meaning that we have a slightly different title for it to make sense to us.
on 27 December 2014
I totally enjoyed this. Admittedly, there was a distinct lack of vampires, but Hill more than made up for that. I loved the character of Charlie Manx - gloriously wicked with wonderful graveyard humour (ha ha). I found Bing repulsive in the extreme, and the mark of a good author for me is that I respond to his characters with a degree of passion.
I really liked the idea that Vic could jump from place to place by riding her pushbike or her Triumph when she was a adult. There is a part of me that wishes things like that would happen in real life. Now that would make life interesting.
This is the first of Hill's novels which I have read, and after I have posted this, will be buying more.
on 22 February 2015
'NOS4R2' is the story of Charles Talent Manx the third and his 1938 black Rolls-Royce with the licence plate 'NOS4R2' which spells out 'Nosferatu' (Charles's own little joke). Charles is The Wraith and a serial killer, he takes children to Christmasland, his inscape where every day is Christmas and children lose themselves and never come back.
Charles Manx must find an accomplice to assist him in kidnapping children from their 'monsters' of parents and there must be ten children taken a year. Bing Partridge is recruited after he replies to a job advertisement for a job in Christmasland. Bing is 42 years old and a murderer of his own parents and believes everything that Charles tells him. Charles offers Bing the chance to go to Christmasland, only special adults are chosen, they must prove their love and devotion of children, their protection and service to Christmasland, Bing is desperate to prove himself.
As Charles & Bing commit their crimes they never expect to be hindered or caught but then Charles meets Victoria 'Vic' McQueen, who has her own inscape and is the first person to escape from Charles which begins a chain of events for both of them.
I enjoyed 'NOS4R2' from beginning to end, what a fantastic read! I loved the story, Christmasland is terrifying, the idea of it gets under your skin as more is revealed about Charles Manx and the moon that hangs over Christmasland is one of many scary moments that you read in the story.
All of the characters are well written, you see Vic growing up, as she discovers her inscape, the shorter way bridge, a bridge she was forbidden to go near because it was unsafe. Vic discovers her inscape whilst riding across the bridge and thinking about her mother's lost bracelet, Vic finds herself in the place where the bracelet was lost, as time goes on, Vic uses her power more but she suffers for it.
I liked Vic because she is flawed and never denies that she is, her first experience of Charles Manx leaves it mark, it was sad to read about her addiction and experiences, finding herself living with the disbelief of others and then making herself believe that nothing happened to her which left Vic isolated, she wants to do the right thing, especially for her son, Wayne. I also liked Lou, Wayne's father, devoted to him and Vic. I liked that he was a nerd and proud of it, he strives to be better for Wayne and Vic, wants to do something heroic when he just does not realise that he is heroic to Wayne and Vic, he saves them both in so many ways.
Charles Manx is a memorable character, horrible and cruel but does not see himself that way, a charming psychopath who thinks he is saving children.
'NOS4R2' is a dark book with characters who are memorable, there is so much feeling in this book, you go through a range of emotions, you care what happens to Vic, Lou and Wayne.
Joe Hill is definitely a great author.
A memorable story.
When notorious serial killer and child abductor, Charlie Manx slips into a coma and dies he isn't done with unfinished business. Victoria McQueen was just a teenager when she encountered Manx but she shares a supernatural quality with him that means she knows he's not only not done with her but is coming for her son Wayne. Can Vic save her family?
An epic horror read, which took me over twelve hours to read cover to cover and worked so well for me as it was so easy to get invested in the characters, none of whom were anything other than naturally flawed. There was even a nod to the True Knot from Doctor Sleep and an affection for motorbikes throughout, there was never a dull moment. The suspense and horror is well built throughout the book and culminates in an exciting, if not somewhat sad, ending.
on 27 October 2015
This book took a little while for me to get my head round but once I did I couldn't put it down! It follows Vic,a mother who has had her son kidnapped by a man everyone thinks is dead. It's fast paced with good characters (even though I found myself shouting at some of them in my head), and a very strange fantasy Christmas land. I will never look at Christmas ornaments the same again.
The downside of the book for me would have to be the strange habit throughout the book of ending chapters without finishing the last sentence. This I found too strange and served no purpose as far as I can tell. It actually seems to be that the sentence is finished with the title of the next chapter but again Im not sure why.
Clive Barker fans would love this
on 27 October 2013
I decided to read this novel during a period when I was recovering at home after a minor operation that required me to stay indoors for a few days. First off, I have to say that it deserves all the plaudits it has so far received. I'm not a huge fan of this genre (horror) but I do occasionally turn to Dean Koontz, Richard Laymon, and Stephen King and the like when I want to read something that will take me into the strange and weird worlds that these authors can conjure up for us. These writers don't just succeed in scaring the pants off us readers but are actually very good at just telling damn good stories.
From the very first page you are drawn into the mad, bad world of Charlie Manx. The central character of Victoria (Vic) McQueen is someone we quickly get to know and like. Her 'journeys' and consequent adventures keep the story rattling along at a good pace and as the story develops, you'll get to appreciate what an observant and skilled author Joe Hill is as he delivers such a cracking tale.
If you like King, Koontz and Laymon then add Joe Hill to your list. Heart Shaped Box was the first book I read by this guy and really enjoyed it. However, I think he has bettered that with NOS4R2. It's one of the best horror books I have read in a long time.