SHAME ON ME.
I had NO idea that Stephen King had a son who was a horror novel writer! And I call myself a fan.
Not to mention, he’s every bit as good of a writer as his dad — dare I say — even better! I know. What kind of crazy talk is coming out of my mouth right now!
NOS4ATU is the first Joe Hill book I’ve read, but I plan on reading everything he’s ever written, stat. This book hearkens back to Christine, IT, and other books which both shaped and tramautized my seventh grade brain. He even gives a shout-out to the town of Derry, Maine, home of horrible clown Pennywise, in this book.
Hill has invented a terrifying character, Charlie Manx, in this novel. Manx is some kind of vampire whose energy is recharged by kidnapping “troubled” children and their parents, and driving them in his Rolls Royce Wraith (license plate: NOS4ATU) to a place called Christmasland where it’s always Christmas. Which sounds kind of wonderful, until you realize that the kids are trapped there forever and become these horrible creatures with rows upon rows of teeth, doing the bidding of Manx. And the parents are first taken to the “House of Sleep,” which is run by Manx’s minion of sorts, Bing, who gasses up the parents and then rapes and tortures them. Pretty nasty stuff.
Vic McQueen (Victoria) is the hero of the book whom we first meet as a young girl. She has the ability to find things that are lost, including her mom’s bracelet, a child, a girl’s toy, etc. She does so by riding her bike until she comes across a covered bridge which has been condemned (and torn down – yet it’s still around for Vic). She rides across the bridge and it takes her to the location of the lost item … even if it’s states away … instantaneously! But, these trips across the bridge take a toll on her. She becomes feverish for days afterward. And no one else knows about the bridge, so she eventually believes herself to be crazy.
On one of these trips, she encounters Manx, who tries to bring her to Christmasland, but fails.
As she becomes an adult, she convinces herself that the bridge isn’t real, that she has hallucinated the whole thing. When Manx, believed to be dead, resurfaces to finish what he started with Vic, she needs to overcome her own self-doubt to save herself and her son from Manx. Not to mention try to rid the world of his evil presence once and for all.
I loved, loved, LOVED this book, didn’t want it to end, was riveted and horrified by Manx, and if I had read this around the same time I read “IT,” I’d not only hate clowns but I’d hate Christmas too! (Oh wait, I already kind of do. Story for another day.)
If you are like me and didn’t realize Stephen King had an uber-talented son, but you love King’s writing, do yourself a favor and check out Joe Hill. He obviously inherited his dad’s penchant for storytelling and his skill for the written word. So glad I know about this talented writer who doesn’t need to even ride his dad’s coattails to earn his place among the best horror writers in history. I can’t praise this book enough!