Litercurious Book Review
|Publisher||William Morrow & Company (October 31, 2013)|
“An inscape, a world of thought. In a world made of thought—in an inscape—every idea is a fact. Emotions are as real as gravity. Dreams are as powerful as history. Creative people, like writers, and Henry Rollins, spend a lot of their time hanging out in their thought-world. S-s-strong creatives, though, can use a knife to cut the stitches between the two worlds, can bring them together. Your bike. My tiles. Those are our knives.”
Joe Hill, NOS4A2 (October 31, 2013). Ch. The Librarian, Loc. 1417-1427
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NOS4A2 is a horror novel written by Joe Hill. It is every horror aficionados dream. The central characters are Vic McQueen, an intuitive wild child with a penchant for two wheels, an infinite curiosity, a need for speed, and a special skill. Charlie Manx a sinister otherworldly psychic vampire. Bing is a sociopath with a dark past and darker future. Margret Leigh is a librarian with unique talents. Louis Carmody is a friend to Vic and father to their child. In addition are McQueen’s dysfunctional extended family.
When the story begins Vic lives with her parents in Haverhill, Massachusetts, not far from Lake Winnipesaukee; a favorite family getaway.
Victoria McQueen – AKA Vic or The Brat
NOS4A2 is a standout in every way as a horror product. Set in contemporary times. The key character, Vic McQueen, is an 8-year-old child living in Haverhill with her dysfunctional mother and father who are in a combative relationship. Vic is a wild-child with an extraordinary gift. She is an exceptional artist, but that is not her only trait. She soon discovers her other talent, a symbiotic relationship between her and her bicycle; her ‘knife’ (a psychic tool that can act as a portal via the Shorter Way over a psychic bridge to anywhere she wants to go). Together they can traverse the ethereal plane.
Hill’s novel steers us through the life of Vic from her days as a child, her teenage years and struggles, to her maturation. A life altering event; a clash with Charlie Manx, leads Vic on a personal and dramatic course that defines her life thereafter.
Charles Talent Manx – AKA Charlie Manx
Charles Talent Manx is the principal evil protagonist. He is a filicidal psychopath and mass killer. He has a distinctive overbite, ancient appearance, dresses strangely, and drives a vehicle from another era; a Rolls Royce Wraith. The Wraith is more than just a car, it is part of his Manx-scape, his inner-verse, it is his “knife.” The automobile is implicated in Manx’s unhealthy interest in children. He seemingly spirits them away in his Rolls Royce to his inscape, which he calls Christmasland. In an accident of synchronicity, Vic McQueen and Manx cross paths; from there the game is afoot.
Bing Partridge is a rotund, bespectacled man from Sugarcreek, PA. Bing was tried and convicted of parricide for both of his parents. He is a sexual deviant and fascinated with using sevoflurane (Gingerbread scented gas). Sevoflurane is one of the volatile gases that includes: halothane, isoflurane, and desflurane. Partridge employs the gas as an anesthetic to render his victims insensible. He utilizes a military gas mask, given to him by his father when he was a child, to prevent himself from suffering the analgesic affects.
Bing is Manx’s most recent assistant; there have been many over the years. Bing has a fascination for Christmas, gas masks, and mature adult women; although his interests range too much lower age groups. He is dull, has a complex range of paraphilias and appears to suffer from an insufficiency of intellect with elements of psychopathy, and sociological illness. Cunning like a fox and yet barely able to operate in society, Bing shares Manx’s abnormal love of Christmas and Christmasland. Bing can, and will, do anything to attain Christmasland with its promise of eternal life surrounded by gingerbread and all the accoutrements, including access to children.
Ms. Margret Leigh – AKA Maggie
Ms. Margret Leigh is a scrabble maven with a special bag and a spluttering stammer. Maggie has a sapphic nature and works as a librarian in a small town. She is fascinated with scrabble. Maggie has her own “knife,” involving the use of her scrabble bag. She can retrieve messages that aid her in seeing future events.
Louis Carmody – AKA Lou Carmody
Lou is Vic’s significant other and father to Bruce Wayne McQueen. He is an all-around nice guy, dedicated father, and part-time hero.
Joe Hill could be the best contemporary horror writer of our time.
NOS4A2 is a strong tale, perfectly paced, and totally engrossing. It has a stupendous narrative, is skillfully written with superior character definition, and has a compelling chronology. It is a mythos all its own and I would not be surprised if it becomes a timeless favorite of many horror story lovers.
NOS4A2 is replete with numerous literary Easter-eggs. He doffs his hat throughout the book to his illustrious literary family and references locations from their works. A reference to Shawshank is just one example. Notable locations: The House of Sleep, The Shorter Way, Manx The Sleigh House, the Graveyard of What Might Be.
I have seen the television show featuring a screenplay adapted from the book. My recommendation is that you should forget the show and read the book. The written form is far superior and elaborates much more than the TV version. There is simply no comparison between the two experiences.
I have already identified my next Joe Hill book and decided on his award-winning number one best seller Heart-Shaped Box. What will your next Joe Hill novel be?
Take a look below where I have provided a read-for-free link to four of his works on KindleUnlimited.
OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR
Other books by this author are included on his Author’s Spotlight here. There is a range of his works that are currently free-to-read on KindleUnlimited – as of 1 July, 2020. Select the image below to view: