15729539Reviewed by Marcus Hammond

Vic McQueen had been a creative and aloof child with too much on her plate. Growing up, she had to manage a dysfunctional family life that pitted a father she adored with a mother she couldn’t communicate with. To escape the hardships Vic would lose herself in her powerful imagination. She, however, could barely understand that her powerful imagination allowed her to bend reality. This secret ability allowed her to open gateways between time and space in order to find missing items. As a child with such a remarkable gift, Vic becomes the target of the strange, child abducting, Charlie Manx. Using her wits, Vic escapes Manx’s grip and leads authorities to capture him. Her ordeal split her family and her life apart as the influence of the deadly Manx began to tear at Vic’s sanity.

As an adult, Vic tries to rediscover a normal life with her son and her former boyfriend. She tries to bury her past, including her interactions with Charlie Manx. That gets derailed, however, when Manx’s decrepit body disappears from a morgue, mid-autopsy and Vic’s son, Wayne is abducted by someone in a 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith; the car that Manx used to hunt and transport his victims to his own slice of bent reality, Christmasland.

Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 is a grisly, epic horror that keeps the reader looking over his or her shoulder throughout the entire experience. Hill mixes psychological tension, grisly violence, and well-developed characters to create an unsettling novel of supernatural suspense. Hill deftly intertwines emotional character development with shocking violence and the supernatural to make the reader feel attached and repulsed at the same time.

As I read this novel I found myself thinking about how Joe Hill has made a name for himself in the horror genre without using his father, Stephen King, to aid him. NOS4A2 is an epic piece of horror fiction, but it also resembles a changing of the guard. Hill subtly pays tribute to all the Stephen King horror stories that have influenced generations of fans through his use of similar themes and images (creepy vampires, creepy possessed cars, misunderstood youth, large dogs, etc.), yet he still finds a way to separate those themes and images into a wholly original plot line.

I enjoyed this book a great deal (insomuch as one can enjoy violence and horror). I did find the violence, at times, to be unsettling, however, Hill’s re-imagining of the vampire theme and the use of the possessed car called upon a classic horror motif that hooked me from the very beginning.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.