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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2013)
NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

692 pages, Hardcover

First published April 30, 2013

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About the author

Joe Hill

528 books25.5k followers
Joe Hill's debut, Heart-Shaped Box, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. His second, Horns, was made into a film freakfest starring Daniel Radcliffe. His other novels include NOS4A2, and his #1 New York Times Best-Seller, The Fireman... which was also the winner of a 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Horror Novel.

He writes short stories too. Some of them were gathered together in his prize-winning collection, 20th Century Ghosts.

He won the Eisner Award for Best Writer for his long running comic book series, Locke & Key, co-created with illustrator and art wizard Gabriel Rodriguez.

He lives in New Hampshire with a corgi named McMurtry after a certain beloved writer of cowboy tales. His next book, Strange Weather, a collection of novellas, storms into bookstores in October of 2017.

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Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,311 reviews120k followers
December 22, 2022
Do You Fear What I Fear?

Christmas was one of the best things about being a kid. There is nothing quite like the anticipation leading up to Christmas morning. And even now, having achieved geezerhood, I am still a complete sucker for the big day. Every year a real tree, lights, sorting through and selecting from the decades and decades of collected ornaments, gifts, and hopefully a tree skirt free of cat vomit. I put on It’s a Wonderful Life, wife by my side, hopefully at least one of my now-grown kids at hand, and keep the tissues handy. I find it completely heartwarming. One must wonder, however, how Christmas might have been celebrated in the King household. I suppose it is possible that Dad left his darker impulses by his keyboard. Did they share hot chocolate like the rest of us, or maybe add bits of human flesh instead of marshmallows. Hot toddy made with blood from a guy named Todd? Brownies made with under-age Girl Scouts? Did their whipped cream scream? Well, probably not, but one must wonder.

Joe Hill - image from NY Times photo by Phillip Montgomery

NOS4A2, the author’s latest tale from the dark side, takes a beloved annual celebration and gives it the special family treatment. If you like your Christmas trees decorated with sparkling abominations, your Santa more by way of an oversized, but underfed mortician, and your Santa’s special elf a rapist psycho-killer, then this is the book you will want to find frightening off the other packages under your tree next Christmas.

Joseph Hillstrom King, under nom de scare Joe Hill, is a man who not only would be King, he already is one. He has been pretty busy the last few years, writing up a storm, 20th Century Ghosts, Heart-Shaped Box, and Horns, establishing himself as a respected, successful writer of horror fiction, picking up at least eleven literary awards to date. Although his career has been relatively brief, he has, with NOS4A2, grown up to a level where he can glare, eye-to-eye, with the best of contemporary horror writers, even that guy across the table at Christmas dinner.

NOS4A2 is a work of impressive creativity, and one that may give you many a sleepless night, so powerful are some of the images he has created. But the core of the book is Victoria McQueen, Vic, The Brat. And how fitting that a King makes his heroine a queen. Applying a familiar horror-tale trope, the young female hero, we are introduced to Vic as an eight-year-old. This kid loves her bike. (like another McQueen, of the Steve variety, in The Great Escape) But then she has good reason to. It takes her where she needs to go, whether that happens to be around the block or across a magically bespoke bridge that takes her across geography, wormhole style. It comes in handy when she desperately wants to locate, say, a lost necklace that figures in her parents latest screaming match, opening for her a personal Shorter Way Bridge to take her to the proper destination. It takes her home again, of course. But it exacts a toll. And the journey through it can be harrowing.

Countering this adorable heroine is Charlie Manx. Not so adorable. This definitely not so goodtime Charlie abducts children to his special place, Christmasland, taking advantage of their unhappiness to seduce them with a King-family version of Neverland. What if it were Christmas every day? Charlie’s number one supporter is Bing Partridge. Bing’s latest accomplishment was the murder of his parents, but not before engaging in unspeakable behavior of another sort. He may be dreaming of Christmas but it is more likely to be fright than white, and there are fouler things than partridges in the trees he favors. He lives, fittingly on Bloch Lane, named, we suspect, for the author of Psycho. Once teamed up with Charlie, he makes use of his access to a particular sort of gas, sevoflurane, to subdue his victims. The stuff smells like gingerbread.
Bing’s yard was full of tinfoil flowers, brightly colored and spinning in the morning sunlight. The house was a little pink cake of a place, with white trim and nodding lilies. It was a place where a kindly old woman would invite a child in for gingerbread cookies, lock him in a cage, fatten him for weeks, and finally stick him in the oven. It was the House of Sleep.
You won’t find Christmasland on any map, but it exists. Charley drives a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. Not exactly a sleigh, but useful for transporting Charley and his goodies here and there. Actually, it is more a case of him bringing the children to his dubious gifts than it is of the gifts being brought to the children. Charlie has been snatching children for a long time. So we have the goodie and we have the baddies.

Vic becomes that most horrifying of nightmares, an adolescent. And in a fit of rage against her divorced parents goes looking for trouble. Before you can say “Feliz Navidead,” the Brat finds herself riding into a Charlie lair, the cutely named “Sleigh House.” A bleak house indeed, as you might guess, and Vic has to resort to some extreme measures to make good her escape. Of course, once she does she earns a permanent place on Charlie’s naughty list. One positive that comes out of this ordeal is that when Vic is fleeing Charlie she is picked up on the highway by a passing biker, the large, leather-clad Lou Carmody. Classic meet-cute and oh, someone is trying to kill me.


It turns out that Vic and her nemesis are not the only ones with a certain gift. When Vic crosses her Shorter Way Bridge to the place of business of Maggie Leigh (second possible Psycho reference?) she meets another person with a special talent, one particularly suited to a librarian. It’s not heaven, though. It’s Iowa. Later Vic’s dad joins up and there is some help from beyond the grave as well. Team Charlie has a lot of young recruits, too. One might be forgiven at times for thinking that he might be giving new meaning to the term “cold calls” as he has his maybe-dead minions manning (would that be childing?) the phones to harass our hero.
“Everyone lives in two worlds,” Maggie said, speaking in an absent-minded way while she studied her letters. “There’s the real world, with all its annoying facts and rules. In the real world there are things that are true and things that aren’t. Mostly the real world s-s-s-suh-sucks. But everyone also lives in the world inside their own head. 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 thoughtworld. 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.”
The King family seems to have figured out how to make us care for their heroes, and Hill has done a nice job of that here. Vic is sympathetic, not just for her courage and determination, but for her failings as well. And there is plenty of failing to go around here, but also generous doses of redemption.

And there is no shortage of action. It all builds to a very explosive climax. There are occasional bits of fun in here as well. Hill engages in a joke having to do with Checkhov’s gun that is sure to bring a smile. And he takes a cutesy swipe at Henry Rollins, in the quote above. No idea if this is a friendly poke, or a straight up dig.

There are some soft spots as well. Charlie is a pretty bad sort. Not enough attention is addressed to looking at how he came to be that way. It might have helped make him more understandable, if not sympathetic, which is always more interesting than the straight up boogie man. Bing is boogie man enough, despite his less than imposing façade, his child-like insecurity. And what is it that gives certain objects their magical properties? Never addressed. Hill takes on the somewhat softball difference in value between happiness and fun, which certainly has relevance to our consumer culture, but is far from novel.

Still and all, this is top notch horror, signaling not necessarily that a King is born, but that one has arrived and is ready to ascend to the throne.

Happy Horrordays!

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Hill put up a nice promo vid for the book on his site

4/29/13 - The New York Times review by Janet Maslin

In Stephen King's 2013 release, Doctor Sleep, he offers at least two nods to NOS4A2. Thanks Pop.

Some fun Christmas items from National Geographic:
-----11/29/2017 - Saint Nicholas to Santa: The Surprising Origins of Mr. Claus - by Brian Handwerk
-----12/13/2017 - Who Is Krampus? Explaining the Horrific Christmas Devil - by Tanya Basu
-----12/21/2017 - Vintage Map Shows Santa's Journey Around the World - By Greg Miller – a kitschy 50’s Santa Map
-----12/19/2017 - One Town's Fight to Save Their 40-Foot Yule Goat - by Sarah Gibbens – Yes, really, a Christmas goat

12/21/2017 - This NY Times video by Matthew Salton is a trip - Santa is a Psychedelic Mushroom

AMC is premiering a series based on the book in Summer 2019. Here is a link to the preview. But I am concerned about the fact that the actress portraying Victoria, who, remember, begins this book at eight years of age, is twenty six. It appears that AMC has cut out the younger Vic, opting to begin her tale from when she is a high school senior, a huge mistake, IMHO.

Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx - image from AMC

May 31, 2019 - NY Times - With ‘NOS4A2,’ Joe Hill Finally Sinks His Teeth Into TV - by Austin Considine
Profile Image for Wil Wheaton.
Author 91 books204k followers
October 8, 2013
Joe Hill tells another wonderful story that is scary, disturbing, beautiful, sad, and surprisingly touching.

Read it all the way to the end. All the way.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books249k followers
December 5, 2019
“Already, though, she understood the difference between being a child and being an adult. The difference is when someone says he can keep the bad things away, a child believes him.”

 photo Charlie20Manx_zpswz3gfbro.jpg
Charles Talent Manx with his silver hammer.

Some people are born with bad wiring. Some people get caught in a whirlpool of one tragic circumstance after another that has a detrimental effect on their sanity. Some people are too fragile; some are too hard, and some accumulate so much baggage that their soul gets lost in the jumble. To stick a pin in a man like Charles Talent Manx and compose a label that will define exactly what level of crazy he is would take a team of talented psychologists.

Crazy is one thing, but when crazy becomes wrapped in a smelly, wooly blanket of cosmic evil, things that shouldn’t be possible, suddenly become so substantial that they actually wink into existence. The whole concept of Christmasland sprang from the demented mind of Charlie Manx.

You might think to yourself that Christmasland doesn’t sound that scary. In fact, it even sounds like a great place to take the kids over winter break. The only problem is that its creator is bat shit crazy, so there might be candy canes and Christmas trees, but there are also razor blades and very, very sharp teeth.

It is The Nightmare Before Christmas stepping out of the silver screen and intersecting with a sliver of Colorado.

Now, you can’t just drive to Christmasland even if you do have a general idea of where it is. Not just anyone is welcome. Manx has a key, a horcrux that might very well have eaten his soul, in the form of a vintage 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. He drives it back and forth between the real world and Christmasland.

 photo Christmasland_zpsrqbiyhgu.jpg

Vic McQueen has a key as well, a bicycle that when she rides it can take her over the Shorter Way Bridge to anywhere in the world where something she lost exists. On one of her journeys, she goes to Here, Iowa, and meets a librarian named Maggie who has stuttering issues. She also has Scrabble tiles that can help her much the same way Vic’s bicycle helps her. Maggie is, by far, my favorite character in the book because she says stuff like this:

“No one looks too closely at a librarian. People are afraid of going blind from the glare of ssss-ssso much compressed wisdom.”

And she is a naughty librarian too.

“If books were girls and reading was s-ss-ssss-fucking, this would be the biggest whorehouse in the county and I'd be the most ruthless pimp you ever met. Whap the girls on the butts and send them off to their tricks as fast and often as I can.”

It only stands to reason that Vic with her key and Manx with his key would end up in the same place eventually. Manx, with the help of a loathsome companion named Bing who is a very, very dangerous dingaling, is going around the country “liberating” abused children from parents and taking these kids back to Christmasland. These kids, once they arrive, grow rows of serrated teeth and become hungry for munching on adults. If you are an adult who somehow accidentally falls through to Christmasland, you are breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, depending on how fast you can run.

Vic and Manx intersect. She helps to put Manx in prison, and that is when the phone calls begin. They are kids from Christmasland, condemning her for her role in Manx’s incarceration. She spends time in and out of mental institutions. For the sake of her sanity, she tries to forget things like the Shorter Way Bridge, Rolls Royces with vanity license plates, a skeletal gray man with red eyes, and children singing demented Christmas carols.

But now she has a son, and Manx is coming for him. She is going to have to remember everything and believe again if she is going to have a chance to save him.

 photo IMG_0027_zpsdngytjmu.jpg
Joe Hill likes to make sketches along with his signature. In this case, he drew Nosferatu. Eventually, he will probably quit doing this, so later these books with the sketches will be more collectible.

I’ve been following Joseph Hillstrom King’s career very closely. It has been impressive to me that he decided to be a writer, a profession that his father has dominated for decades, but also that he decided to be a horror writer, forcing direct comparisons with his father’s work. For a man capable of inducing so much fear in others, he has shown no fear in his decision to be a writer. Instead of thinking of his father and his father’s fame as a hinderance to his own career, he must have decided to consider both those aspects assets. He did shorten his name for his writing pseudonym, but if the thought was to hide his relationship to his father, then it has turned out to be one of the worst kept secrets in publishing.

His father was always good about dropping pop culture and geek references into his books, and so is Hill. There is a moment when the father of Vic’s child is giving him advice. ”If i die in a plane crash remember to always bag and board your comics. Love you too.” Wisdom, such as this, passed to your offspring will insure that your kids will be mutant nerds.

The Americans and the British publishers used two different covers. The collector in me always likes this because with an author that I like this much I enjoy having both books. Another interesting element is Charlie Manx’s vanity plate. The Americans went with NOS4A2, and the British went with NOS4R2. I find that it is always prudent to defer to our cousins across the pond when it comes to points of contention with the English language.

 photo IMG_0024_zpsagjkaexw.jpg
The American edition is on the left, and the British edition is on the right.

Hill wrote a graphic novel called Wraith that gives his readers more background on Charlie Manx. I decided to read it first, even though it was published after NOS4A/R2, because I thought I might benefit from knowing the origins of Manx and might enjoy this book more. It certainly allowed me to consider Manx in a more well rounded light. In some strange way, he did feel like he was doing the right thing, that his madness was a John Brown type of madness, rather than the insanity of, say, a John Wayne Gacy.

”Vic understood everything. Whatever the children had become, whatever he had done to them, he had done to make them safe, to keep them from being run down by the world. He believed in his own decency with all his heart. So it was with every true monster, Vic supposed. “

The true believers are generally the most dangerous humans. The cause supersedes any contemplation of the effects of their actions on others. Hill has created characters and a story I won’t soon forget. I can guarantee you all one thing that if I see a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith gliding down the street in my direction I will flee like my life depends on it. This is one of the hazards of being a reader with an overactive imagination being matched with a writer with expansive creative ideas. This could prove to be Hill’s masterpiece.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
June 6, 2019
I liked this one - some parts of it more than others - but after having my eye on this book for over six years, I am disappointed that I didn't enjoy it more.

Like many, I finally picked up NOS4A2 (or NOS4R2) so I could read it before the new TV show comes out. The only thing I'd previously read by Joe Hill was the first volume of his Locke & Key graphic novels, but I'd heard over and over that this book reads just like a Stephen King book, so I was eager to give it a shot.

And it does. It's got Stephen King's style all over it. A bit of grit, a lot of long-winded waffling that, for some reason, isn't necessarily a bad thing. But... there was just a real disconnect for me here that only happens on occasion with King. And I found the lengthy waffle really dragged, especially in the middle.

The start of the book is very strong. A nurse startles when an old man, who is supposedly brain dead, comes to life and threatens her and her son. The man is Charles Manx, a known child murderer who lured young children to a place he called Christmasland. Nobody believes the nurse when fellow staff arrive at the room to find the old man unconscious and displaying limited brain activity, just as he should be.

The book then jumps to some twenty years earlier and we meet Vic McQueen-- a girl with a strange ability for finding lost things. We soon learn that Vic knows she can find whatever she needs by crossing an old rickety bridge. The bridge will take her to whatever she is looking for. Then, one day, Vic finds Charles Manx across the bridge and somehow lives to tell the tale. She grows up. Has a kid and a career. But Charles Manx has never forgotten Vic McQueen. The Girl Who Lived, if you will.

It's all quite creepy and clever, especially all the hidden references that are fun to discover. King's work gets several nods, of course.

I'm just personally a very emotional reader- especially when it comes to horror, fantasy and thrillers - and the emotional disconnect here really affected my enjoyment. I felt that one major difference between King's and Hill's admittedly very similar styles is the depth of the characterization King puts in, and how this makes me warm to the characters. I felt nothing for the people in this book, not even Vic. The major event that happens in the later chapters left me feeling unmoved, though I suspect I was supposed to be upset by it.

Oh, well. Maybe my expectations were too high.

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Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,540 reviews9,967 followers
May 13, 2019
Reread this with wonderful friends at For Love Of A Book!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List


Photo’s by Zach Dilgard/AMC



This is NOT a sweet little Christmas story boys and girls. This is a book about the evil Charlie Manx who takes boys and girls to Christmasland to live forever and ever and ever.......


and Christmasland is not a place you want to be with your soul sucked dry.

Charles Manx cruises around in his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith stealing children and feeding off them, not in the sense your thinking, but in another way.


He has a tag on the front of the car that says NOS4A2 and I always wondered what that meant, then I read the book, and find out.. imagine that!

"Does your license plate mean something?" Bing asked. "en=o-ess-four-a-two?"
"Nosferatu," the man Charlie Manx said.
Manx said, "It is one of my little jokes. My first wife once accused me of being a Nosferatu. She did not use that exact word, but close enough. Have you ever had poison ivy, Bing?"

↑ That was Bing, one of Manx henchmen he uses over the years to take care of the kids parents.

↑ I couldn't resist! :-)

There is a little girl in the book named Victoria (Vic) McQueen and she is the only one that ever managed to not be killed as a child by Manx. She has a special ability of riding her bicycle over a covered bridge and come up in another place. She finds things and brings them back, but she can only do this on her bicycle. She also met another person on her travels that has an ability as well and they are sort of friends in that world and her name is Maggie. I really liked Vic and Maggie.

The book moves through different times in Vic's life, when she's a child, a teen and an adult. She barely escapes from Manx when she is a teen and decided to go looking for him. That wasn't a good idea at the time. But in the process she met Lou, a boy at the time himself. And Manx gets put away and in a coma for years. Until.......

Lou and Vic end up having a kid together and named him Wayne. Vic is far from normal though. I mean who would be right? She even has to do some time in the mental institution when she starts hearing the kids singing Christmas songs again and calling her on the phone. The Christmasland kids. Creepy!


As you can figure, Manx comes back with old stupid Bing to get Wayne and Vic. There is a major throw down with Vic and Manx and even Lou and Vic's father get involved to a certain extent. I really loved ole Lou, he was a good ole boy.

I'm not going to tell you the end game because those that haven't read it need to read it and I don't want to spoil it. I just know now... at Christmas.. I'm going to keep an eye out for any suspicious looking cars and creepy singing outside!


Merry Christmas!
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,607 reviews10.8k followers
June 5, 2023
The most deliciously EVIL Christmas story ever penned, making all my horrid holiday dreams come true!

I didn't think it was possible but, it happened.
I enjoyed NOS4A2 EVEN MORE the second time around.

I think the first time I read this, it was so intense, I was just racing through the pages to see what was going to happen next. I was literally anxious to know!

This time however, I could sit back and enjoy the finer details, as I knew how it was ultimately going to end.

Regardless of the fact that I had read it before, I still found the story to be intense and compelling.

At the end of the day, this is an absolutely enthralling story and I think I just may end up reading it over and over for years to come.

Holiday tradition at its finest!

Profile Image for Rebecca.
266 reviews282 followers
September 7, 2023
“Already, though, she understood the difference between being a child and being an adult. The difference is when someone says he can keep the bad things away, a child believes him.”

Victoria McQueen has a knack for finding missing items. She can just grab her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike and go out to an old rickety bridge that appears just for her; across it she goes and she finds what she's looking for. Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with a NOS4R2 registration plate. He disposes of their parents, takes the children for a ride down a long empty road that appears just for him; until they find themselves in 'Christmasland' where the children never leave. Victoria has had enough of her parents one day and goes for a ride when she comes across Charlie Manx. She sees a young boy in his car and tries to rescue him but it all goes wrong. Victoria is kidnapped, but she manages to get away, the only person to ever escape his evil clutches. Now Vic is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen….

This book was absolutely brilliant! It really brought me back to my earlier days when I first started reading Horror and would get totally engrossed in the story and fly through it. It exceeded my expectations and has cemented Joe Hill as a favourite author for me. It has a bit of everything; nostalgia; family dynamics; interesting, real and flawed characters; really creepy villains; fantasy, crime, thriller, psychological and horror elements all mixed together to make one hell of a story.

Joe Hill writes in such a riveting way, the supernatural elements are fantastic, and the horror elements are creepy as hell! Speaking of creepy as hell, wait until you meet Charles Manx and the creepy kids at Christmasland. Joe Hill also has this great retro vibe to his writing. Each character has been well developed and are memorable for their own reasons. One of my original gripes was the length of this book, but how can I say a book was too long when every paragraph was so artfully written and a pleasure to read.

Joe Hill has set the bar high with this one and I look forward to reading his other works.

My Highest Recommendation

“Sooner or later a black car came for everyone”

Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,486 reviews79.1k followers
February 6, 2019
Well, that has to be a personal record on the fastest time I've finished a 700 page novel.


Pleased to announce that this is our #scaredsuspensebookclub pick for December! If you’re wanting to read this before the show airs in 2019, come join us. ♥️ The discussions will be broken up as follows:

12/14: Prologue-Search Engine
12/28: Remainder of Novel

Please let me know if you’d like to be added to the Instagram reading group by leaving your handle in the comments. 🎄📚
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,168 reviews37.3k followers
December 25, 2021
12/25/21: Again: Why - because it’s Christmas and there’s no better time for NOS4A2, Vic McQueen, Charlie Manx and the great Kate Mulgrew! Welcome to Christmasland!

5 Stars.

One of my top favorite books of all time (which should be obvious since I have now read the book twice and have listened to the audiobook once, narrated masterfully by Kate Mulgrew, as well).

A Creepy, Disturbing Thrill Ride, with a flawed, yet lovable heroine, NOS4A2 is Joe Hill at his best.

Victoria (Vic) McQueen is no ordinary girl. She has a bike and with it, she can travel across a bridge, which takes her through time and space, from one part of the country to the next, in mere seconds. As a young girl, her bike was a blue, Raleigh Tuff Burner. It was the coolest thing she had ever seen. And when she traveled across the bridge? She found things. Lost objects: a missing bracelet, a missing photograph. As an adult, her motorbike is a Triumph and she finds answers to questions and she saves lives.

When Vic was young, she encountered the likes of one Charles Talent Manx and his ride was a Wraith. A 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith, to be exact. It is an extension of him. It does what he wants it to. Manx is evil incarnate and with his ride, he can travel from this world to his own inscape, where his home, known as “Christmasland” is located. Why? To populate his own inscape with children, of course. So that they can celebrate Christmas. Every. Single. Day. But these aren’t ordinary children. And Manx isn’t an ordinary man. He is a man convicted of heinous crimes, and he simply cannot die. And he thrives upon stealing a child’s innocence. And the remnants of those children whose innocence he steals, end up in Christmasland. He accomplishes this task with a little help from a friend, so to speak. That friend is Bing Partidge, a sick little man, who is eager to get to Christmasland himself.

Vic is the only child to have ever escaped Charles Manx and he has never forgotten it. Now that she is an adult, Manx decides to pay her back for it. The only way he knows how. Through her kid: Bruce Wayne Carmody. Son of the sweetest, kindest guy you’ll ever meet, Lou Carmody. He is a teddy-bear of a man, who fixes motorcycles and truly loves two things in life. His son Wayne and Vic. Victoria has never really been good at anything except for finding things. Yet, for some reason, the people in her life don’t give up on her. That goes for Lou and Maggie Lee - the only person who can help Vic stop Manx and find Wayne.

The path that Vic goes on to stop Manx is a crazy, turbulent one. It is a ride that I, personally, have taken three times (and have lived to tell the tale). It is wildly imaginative and definitely scary. And it is at times, a little horrific, but it is stellar nonetheless. It is one I encourage each of you to get on (preferably on the Raleigh or the Triumph not the Wraith) and hold on for your dear life.

Vic is a heroine like no other. If I needed someone to have my back, I would want it to be her. And Maggie Lee? Y-y-yess Puuhpplease. They are both flawed, tragic characters. But they have heart. And I loved them both dearly. As for Lou? He is one heck of a guy. What more can I say except for DUUDE??!! If you’ve ever read a Joe Hill novel, then you know that he is an expert at writing villains. Charles Manx might be his best. He sure scared the heck out of me.

In case it’s not crystal clear: I ADORE this book. Love doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about it. I loved it the first two times I read and this last time, I decided to listen to the audiobook and if possible, I loved it even more. Why, you ask? Because it was narrated, by the multi-talented, Kate Mulgrew. For this audiobook alone, she made all 30 characters’ voices distinct. I was terrified by the voice of Charles Talent Manx. Just thinking of it, I get shivers down my spine. I didn’t think it possible for one person to change their inflection, intonation and/or their voice so many times to sound like so many different people but Ms. Mulgrew handled it skillfully. She made NOS4A2 rise to yet another level.

Below is a link to an interview with the magnificent Kate Mulgrew about her method of narration (which includes an excerpt to her narration of another Joe Hill novel, The Fireman – which I must now listen to the audiobook of (even though I’ve already read that book. Good thing I loved that one too!)). If this doesn’t convince you guys to listen to one of the books she narrated, I don’t know what will. Personally, I hope you choose NOS4A2. It might scare you, but it’ll be worth it!

(http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/narr... ).

Published on Goodreads and Amazon on 3/27/17.
Profile Image for Delee.
243 reviews1,136 followers
February 20, 2017
I will not compare Stephen King's son to him...I will not compare Stephen King's son to him.....I will not...............compare....

Joe Hill deserves to be in a class all of his own. Don'tcha think?

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I put off reading NOS4A2 for awhile. I read Heart-Shaped Box first... Which I really liked- but this...this was much better!!!

Sooooooooooooooo many friends said- "You have to read NOS4A2!!!!...Oh you haven't read NOS4A2???? What is wrong with you??? Why haven't read NOS4A2?? What are you stupid?" One of those friends was Stepheny- and fighting it became pointless. Have I mentioned before that Stepheny is difficult? I think I have....a time or two...

So fast forward...buddy read at gun point with-The veeeeeeeeeeeeeery persuasive Stepheny, Msssssssssssssss. Randee , One of the easiest people to get along with- Lisa UK, ....and one of the hardest people to get along with Mr. Dan 2.0

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Massachusetts 1986:

With the help of her trusty bike and a bridge called The Shorter Way- 12 year old Victoria McQueen finds lost things- keys, lost pets, jewelry...and one unfortunate day...she finds kidnapper Charles Manx.

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...a day that will change her life in ways she could have never imagined.

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Somehow I went into reading NOS4A2 having noooooooooooo idea what it was about. Yes- I knew there was an old scary dude...and some kidnapped children and a Christmas theme...but that was about it. I highly recommend doing that..because this book was full of sooooooooooo many surprises.

Bravo Joe Hill!! *clap clap clap* -Definitely one of my favorite reads this year!
Profile Image for Debra .
2,428 reviews35.2k followers
September 24, 2020
I may never view Christmas songs the same way again. I don't know if I should thank Joe Hill for that or kick him in the knee!

What can I say? I loved it (by "It" I mean this book and not "It" which I also loved)!!! I liked Horns, I liked Heart shaped box and I do believe those two books were Joe Hill getting "warmed up" and NOS4A2 is him hitting his stride. I seriously could not put this book down. I found it to be interesting and captivating from cover to cover...and yes, I am on the "nice" list because I read the acknowledgements!

I respect that Joe Hill shortened his name to create a pseudonym in order to stand on his own merit. But come on Joe, you look just like your Dad! But kudos!!! How brave to enter a profession where your father is "King" and how wonderful to know that you can stand on your own two feet and hold your head high knowing that you are an Author on your own merit. This book KICKED ASS!

Vic a.k.a Victoria a.k.a. "the brat" has a knack for finding lost things. She just gets on her trusty bike, rides across a rickety old bridge and is transported wherever she needs to go in order to get what she is looking for: a bracelet, a photo, etc. She knows not to mention the bridge or her visits to wherever she needs to be. She does not mention meeting Maggie, a stuttering librarian in Iowa who gets messages through scrabble tiles. Maggie warns her about Manx... but well, do people ever really listened when warned to not do something? A mother may warn her child not to touch a stove, but will the child still touch the stove to see just hot hot the stove is? hmmmm

Charles Manx is a maniac who preys on children. He takes them for rides in his 1938 Wraith which has the license plate of NOS4A2. His car seems to have power of it's own, it can go wherever it needs to go on secret "hidden" highways and can control it's locks and doors. What it can also do is take Children to Christmasland. Christmas Carols always seem to be playing and if you are a good boy or girl you will be "rewarded" with a visit to Christmasland.

One fateful day Vic finds Manx and of course, all hell breaks loose. She manages to escape - barely and helps put Manx away. Vic goes on to grow up and leave a troubled yet normal life. She has a relationship and child with Lou, the man who saved her from Manx. How does not live a normal happy life after seeing and experiencing what cannot be explained or even believed? She begins to received phone calls from the Children in Christmasland. They are not happy withe her for taking Manx from them. Vic is not stranger to inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations, I mean she is speaking to missing children who live in Christmasland. Who will believe that?

Until one day when Charles Manx goes missing. No one can find his "body" and yet he is out and searching....searching for that one person who escaped him. He wants his second chance if you will to destroy Vic's life. As I mentioned, Vic has a son. A son Manx would very much like to introduce to Christmasland.

"Was there any human urge more pitiful - or more intense -than waning another chance at something?"

Manx is coming and Vic is ready for him. She receives a little help along the way but in the end there will be a showdown. I liked that Maggie came back to help as did Lou.

This is a BIG book. It's HUGE in fact but it didn't feel big. It did not feel as if it were over 700 pages. I read this book FAST as in very FAST because I wanted to know what happened next. I love when books have me on the edge of my seat, scare me a little but also dazzle me with their character development. All three were great in this book. There are also some really great characters in this book. There is also humor. This book has "teeth" and they will sink in and hold you captive. Hill's best in my opinion.

I love when a book surprises me. I did not expect this book to be bad but I was not expecting to like it as much as I did! It really did take me by surprise in a very good way.

Wonderfully written, a fun suspenseful read that kept me turning the pages and on the edge of my seat!

I highly recommend! READ THIS BOOK ALREADY!

See more of my reviews on www.openbookposts.com
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,607 reviews10.8k followers
June 13, 2022
NOS4A2 is unique, dark and amusing.

There are quite a few references to King works, which always makes me giddy. Additionally, there is great character development. Honestly, I find myself in complete awe of its incredible awesomeness.

Halfway through reading this the first time, I ordered a copy for my sister because I just needed to share it with someone.

This book toes the line between the world around us and the world we create within our minds. It's trippy.

Our villain, Charles Talent Manx III, is a vampire of sorts and so devilishly charming that he almost fooled me into developing a soft spot for him. He was all kinds of evil, powerful and wonderfully creative.

Vic McQueen, our heroine, is powerful in her own right, using her gift to find lost things, even though she loses a little of herself every time she does so.

The loving, yet apprehensive mother of Bruce Wayne Carmody, Vic's strength is pushed to the limits on account of Manx.

Unfortunately, her little Wayne feels the pull of Christmasland and we watch his soul go on one hell of a dangerous ride!

Even the side characters are perfection. My favorites, Maggie and Lou, were so important to this story and in my opinion, two of the most likable people in the action. Both misfits, they were real, engaging, loyal and brave.

This book is long, really long, but worth the ride if you put in the time. I may read it again next year at Christmas time. Once you go to Christmasland, you never want to leave!

Profile Image for Anne.
4,065 reviews69.5k followers
October 28, 2022
3.5 stars

Charlie Manx is a vampire. But not really.
It's his car that sucks the life out of its victims and keeps him young.


And who does he suck the life out of? Well, little kids.
He kidnaps kids and takes them to this creepy as fuck place called Christmasland, where the kids act on their worst impulses. Why? Because on the way to Christmasland his car turns them into monsters.


And he does all that with the help of The Gaskmask Man, who's this crazy dude that likes to rape the Mommies. <--this whole scenario is terrifying! Thanks, Joe Hill!
Where once I found Christmas music to be only slightly annoying, I now wonder if I'm going to be able to make it through the holiday season without looking over my shoulder continually.


The characters were surprisingly real. Flawed, weird, and not at all what you expect them to be when it comes to heroes. Lou completely stole my heart by the end of that book, and Vic stole my heart because she knew his worth.
That ending! Gah! It didn't happen the way I thought it would!


I listened to the audio and loved it.
LOVED IT. Kate Mulgrew absolutely NAILED everything. I would go so far as to say that she made this story so much better than it ever could have been if I had been reading it with my eyeballs. I've never had this sort of experience with an audiobook before. I've loved audiobooks, don't get me wrong! But there was something so perfect about the way she captured each character and gave them such life with her voice. In fact, I loved her so much that I downloaded the audiobook Full Throttle just to listen to her read some more.
At the end of the book, Joe Hill comes on and says a little something about how wonderful she is and how much he believes in the power of audiobooks. How listening to books read aloud to you is not only a valid choice for other readers, but something that he does, as well. He was so gracious and genuine that it really made me like him as a writer that much more.

The book itself is somewhat long and a bit meandering. And you can definitely see that this is Stephen King's kid telling you this story. <--and that's not a bad thing!
I think fans of King will find a lot to love in the way Joe writes.
Having said that, there's way more to this story than just vampiric cars, chicks on bikes, and lovable auto mechanics. So, if you think this sounds like something you might be interested in, give it shot. Good stuff.

Kate Mulgrew - Narrator
Publisher: HarperAudio
Edition: Unabridged
Audie Award Nominee
Bram Stoker Award Nominee
The New York Times Best Seller List
Profile Image for Nataliya.
785 reviews12.5k followers
April 26, 2023
People think I'm strange because I don't like Christmas. Well, this book did not cure me of this dislike in the slightest, nossir. Read it, and you'll understand.
"You can’t let facts get in the way of the truth."
I've also never been a fan of Christmas music. There's something just *off* in that fake strained cheerfulness that emanates from it. After this book, I dislike it even more because the annoying in it has been joined by the sinister undertones.
Also, the dislike *may* have something to do with working in a department store years ago, cleaning up before closing during the holidays¹ while listening to the never-ending 'Jingle Bells Rock' and 'Rudolf' and 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' relentlessly playing overhead over and over again while your tired overworked brain is slowly turning to mush.
¹ Have you *seen* the mess that hordes of Christmas bargain-hunters leave in the stores??? Have you ever seen the murderous rage in the eyes of quiet little old ladies when they hear that the Christmas ornament - the 50% off one - is sold out??? I still shudder at the memory of that.

If this picture does not terrify you to the depths of your soul, just wait until you finish this book.

As a side note, I've also never been a fan of personalized license plates, either. Making a connection between 'Nosferatu' and NOS4A2 takes special neurons that I apparently lack.
NOS4A2 is the strongest of all Joe Hill's novels, leaving Heart-Shaped Box and Horns in the dust. It's confident and at times ruthless, moving along at a determined pace, never looking back. It has a brand of scary that's also fun, interspersing moments of gore with character development - all that, in a way, resembles the spirit of the earlier works of Hill's famous father (c'mon, you know the comparison to Stephen King was inevitable - but Joe Hill, despite sharing elements of his work with King's writing, has a voice that is nevertheless distinctly his own).
He looked at her and said, “So to recap: There’s one version of your life where Charlie Manx, a dirty ol’ fuckin’ child murderer, kidnapped you from a train station. And you only barely got away from him. That’s the official memory. But then there’s this other version where you crossed an imaginary bridge on a psychically powered bicycle and tracked him down in Colorado all on your own. And that’s the unofficial memory. The VH1 Behind the Music story.”
Since childhood, Vic McQueen had the ability to find lost things. Her way to do so was a bit unconventional: she would speed on her Raleigh bike over a covered bridge - the one that had collapsed a while ago but remained standing in her mind - right to the place where the lost thing was. But, as with anything in life, there's a price to pay - it's not just the debilitating physical side effects that Vic experiences; somehow her life itself seems to veer off the straight and narrow road as she keeps pedaling towards her special bridge on her special bike.
“Imaginary bridge, superpowered bike. Got it.”

"It was a bridge spanning the distance between lost and found, a bridge over what was possible."
Charlie Manx has a different ride - a black 1937 Royce Wraith that would have made a perfect match for Stephen King's infamous Christine. It takes him on a road to Christmasland, a very real place nevertheless contained in the dark recesses of the madman's imagination - a place to which he has brought probably a hundred kids over the years, leaving his henchman to dispense of the mothers and fathers of those children.

Manx has come across Vic when she was still a child - the chilling encounter neither of them can forget years later. Now, many years later, he's on the road again - and Vic, having been through a lot in her life, with the history of institutionalizations and mental breakdowns, having been living in fear of receiving a call from the dead children in Christmasland, - well, Vic is a mother to a young boy now, and would die to protect him.
"It was something, going over all the things that had led her to this place of high rock, endless snows, and hopelessness. She could not quite work out how she had found her way here. She used to be so good at finding the place she wanted to go."

Joe Hill does have an ability to keep the readers at the edge of their seats, feverishly following Vic's unlikely quest to take back what's hers.

He creates memorable characters, and Vic McQueen is definitely not the one to easily forget. Tough-as-nails but infinitely vulnerable Vic, with her damaged cracking mind but enough ferocity and fierce protectiveness to become a formidable threat is fascinating. She screws up over and over again, and manages to survive under the blows life deals her, and it's actually painful to watch her get yet another punch from cruel fate. And then, when she refuses to give up, when she charges evil armed with little but a wrench, when she knows she's headed for sure death and yet does not waver from her path, - with all that you cannot help but desperately hope that somehow she will manage to overcome the odds.

And, the rest of the cast, even though they pale when compared to Vic, are quite well written, too. For instance, the Gasmask Man is terrifying and revoltingly pathetic at the same time, Maggie's presence fills the few pages she appears on with sad and gentle life, and young Wayne's strength and fragility are beautifully interwoven with each other.

He does not shy away from packing his novel with action scenes that are vivid and crisp clear. No, he does not quite avoid the pitfalls of having his 100-lbs heroine take an insane number of punches and yet still remain functional - but he does tend to do that less than many other writers.

And he does manage to pack such menace and foreboding even in something as innocuous as Christmas music that I felt uncomfortable reading this book in a dark room.
"Innocence ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, you know. Innocent little kids rip the wings off flies, because they don’t know any better. That’s innocence."

This book easily lived to all of my expectations, and Joe Hill has cemented his status as much more than just a son of one of my favorite writers. He proved that he's not a couple-of-books wonder but rather a skilled writer whose books I will be looking forward to for many years to come. 4 stars.
“If it’s all right with you, can we skip Christmas this year?”
“If Santa tries to come down our chimney, I’ll send him back up with my boot in his ass. It’s a promise.”
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
575 reviews760 followers
May 22, 2017
I think the books hardest to get into are the horror ones because it's really a thin line between something being scary and it becoming funny and not believable so I really have to give credit to Hill because even though the book was long he kept me engaged the whole time and even though the concept easily could've turned ridiculous he managed to keep it creepy, like every time Charles Manx was doing something I can't even explain the anxiety and anger I felt especially when the book was at its climax in the end. I really enjoyed the supernatural vibe he struck where it felt like something that could exist in real life also because it isn't so ridiculous that some people may have a hidden gift like that. I really also love Victoria who is obviously the love of my life.

Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
674 reviews4,304 followers
January 3, 2019
“Gold don’t come off. What’s good stays good no matter how much of a beating it takes.”

Vic McQueen has a special gift for finding lost things. All she has to do is jump on her bike and the Shorter Way Bridge will guide her to whatever she is looking for. Until one day she finds trouble in the form of Charlie Manx - a vampiric old man who feeds on the souls of children.

I have this terrible habit where if I don’t read Joe Hill for a prolonged period of time I forget how amazing Joe Hill is and then when I read some of his work I’m thinking to myself “omg Joe Hill, you are literally ranked just under your father in my faves list, I love you” well... this is a habit I need to BREAK.

My initial review for NOS4A2 when I first read it back in July 2016 just HEAPS praise on Hill and how original and inventive and unlike anything else this book was. I was worried a reread would change my opinion. But no... if anything I love this book even more! This book is 700+ pages but it doesn’t feel like it, and that to me, is the sign of a fantastic read where you simply can’t stop yourself from turning the pages. It's difficult not to make comparisons with Stephen King, and although I can see some similarities, make no mistake about it, Joe Hill has his own unique voice and with some pretty amazing unique ideas. This book was like no other book I've read before, very original and it captivated me from the very first page. It was thrilling, fascinating, touching, scary, gruesome...the list goes on.

Our heroine, Vic McQueen, isn’t all that likeable when we first meet her as an adult, but she grows on you and Hill fully develops her into a character that you really root for. And sweet sweet Lou - he deserves the world. Charlie Manx is one of the BEST villains I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming across. He’s absolutely hilarious whilst being incredibly fucking terrifying at the same time. But even more horrifying than Manx is his little helper, Bing. Bing is the lowest of the low... he’s sick and twisted and much more of a human monster than the supernatural Manx. He gives me the heebie jeebies!

NOS4A2 simply doesn’t fit into one genre box, it ticks a lot of them - horror, fantasy, suspense, humour, a little bit of romance... it has everything! And those Stephen King Easter eggs fill me with such joy.

This book is firmly in my top 5 books of ALL TIME! Christmasland is one of my favourite fictional places and I’ve no doubt I’ll be paying another visit. It really holds up on a reread. 5 stars!

Reread Christmas 2018: Just as amazing.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
May 6, 2013
When Victoria McQueen was young, she had a unique gift: she could summon an old covered bridge that would take her wherever she wanted to go. After an encounter with Charles Manx, a Rolls Royce Wraith-driving kidnapper with a similar ability, her life is torn to pieces. Twelve years later, Charles Manx comes looking for the girl that got away and not even death is an obstacle...

First off, I think the title, NOS4A2 (Nosferatu, get it?), while clever, is very misleading since Manx isn't a vampire. Fortunately, that's the only complaint I have about this awesome book.

The lead, Victoria McQueen, is a broken woman whose life is thrown into further chaos when Charles Manx thrusts himself back into it. She rises to the occasion and does what any mother would do when her son is kidnapped: kick ass and take names!

Charles Manx, the villain, is like an even creepier version of Willy Wonka, abducting Children and taking them to another world, Christmasland, where it's Christmas every day and the children become feral little monsters. His Wraith is a pretty chilling car, with its inescapable back seat and mind of its own. I couldn't wait for Manx to get what was coming to him.

The supporting cast is also well drawn. Victoria's baby-daddy Lou, son Bruce Wayne, FBI agent Hutt, and Bing are all fairly memorable characters. I loved Maggie Leigh and hated to see her go out the way she did.

There were some Easter eggs in the text, references to It, The Stand, The Shawshank Redemption, and my favorite, the tie in to the Dark Tower when Manx mentions the doors to Mid-World. Heck, Derry is mentioned so I think it's safe to assume Hill's stories are part of the King-verse and thus the Dark Tower.

This was my first Joe Hill book and it won't be the last. While he writes like his father, he doesn't seem to have many of his father's bad habits. His prose reminds me of Stephen King from back when he was still in touch with his Richard Matheson/John D. MacDonald roots: chilling, evocative, and not long-winded or over-written. Even the fates of the characters reminded me of King from his heyday.

Five stars. That is all.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews944 followers
March 19, 2019

“Charles Talent Manx the Third at your service, my dear! CEO of Christmasland Enterprises, director of Christmasland Entertainment, president of fun! Also His Eminence, the King Shit of Turd Hill, although it doesn’t say that on my card.”

I LOVED MANX! I know he's supposed to be the villain in this story but he thinks he's a good guy so surely that redeems him in some way ? No? He definitely goes down as one of my favoritest bad guys.

I've read a number of Hill's books and found them to be good. Not great, but well enough to keep me coming back.

But this story here is EPIC.

It's definitely a clunker of a book, 984 pages on my Kindle. And it feels like a clunker. It is by no means a fast read and I sorta kinda blame that on the middle of the story. It started off and ended with a flourish but the middle had a somewhat slower pace. That being said, my attention never wavered. EVER.

I'm super stoked (yes, I said stoked) for the TV show now.

4.5 Stars Rounded Up

Profile Image for Beata.
756 reviews1,160 followers
December 28, 2020
My first ever book by Joe Hill, read at last, and I admit I did enjoy it. I do not open horror books too often, but had been intrigued by this one for several years. Stefan's review pushed me towards it and no regrets here. It is not the scariest horror I have ever read but it kept me interested. Kate Mulgrew does a terrific job as the narrator and the fourth star goes to her.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,978 followers
May 13, 2013
As a little girl Victoria McQueen has a magical talent for finding things. While riding her bike and focusing on what she’s looking for, Vic can conjure up an old wooden bridge that she can cross and be at the spot where the lost object is. Vic mainly uses her powers to distract herself from the constant fighting of her parents, and she eventually meets an eccentric librarian named Maggie with her own supernatural power who explains that Vic is tapping into imagination itself and plowing tunnels through it.

Maggie also warns Vic about Charlie Manx, another person with special talents who kidnaps children and takes them to a place called Christmasland in his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith with plates that read NOS4A2. (Or Nosferatu for those of you, like me, who can’t stand not being able to figure out a personalized plate.)

Vic eventually runs across Charlie during her travels, and the encounter doesn’t go well for either of them. Years later, Vic’s adult life has been a steady descent into what seems like madness, but she’s trying to finally repair her relationship with her son when Charlie returns.

It’s probably inevitable that Joe Hill will be compared to his father Stephen King whether it’s fair or not, but the concept and characters seem very much like old school King to me. However, it’s hard to see how Hill could possibly not be influenced by the old man, and in this case, that makes for a tense and fascinating horror novel.

The villains really stood out in this one. Charlie Manx isn’t really a vampire, but he exists in a way by sucking the life out of children. However, since he legitimately sees himself as saving kids from worse fates and providing them with an eternity of fun, it makes him more interesting than just a monster who gets his jollies by murdering kids. Charlie’s sidekick, Bing Partridge, is a simpleton who is terrifying in his role as the Gasmask Man that wants to help Mr. Manx to earn himself a permanent place in Christmasland.

But it’s Vic McQueen that really made me love this story. As a bright kid with a knack for art, it’s painful to see how her ability and meeting Charlie Manx seriously screws her up life. Hill has created a believable and damaged woman who writes and illustrates kid’s books, but also has tattoos and a drinking problem. Vic is a graduate of the Lisbeth Salander Charm School, and she’ll hit you in the face with the wrench she’s using to fix a motorcycle if you give her any grief.

The book has a couple of problems. At almost 700 pages, Joe Hill apparently inherited King’s penchant for writing big books. While the action does move along at a pretty swift pace it still seems like it could have been tightened up. (In Hill’s defense, his stuff moves much faster than his dad. If King would have done this story, it probably would have been 1200+ pages.) There’s also some plot inconsistencies.

None of my minor gripes prevented me from thoroughly enjoying this very creepy action horror novel with a memorable main character.

One more note, I listened to the audible version of this, and it was narrated by Kate Mulgrew who gave an absolutely incredible reading of it with multiple character voices. It was especially fun because of Vic’s foul mouth which made it sound like Captain Janeway was cursing people like a drunken sailor. Engage, you bastards!

Also posted at Shelf Inflicted
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books971 followers
September 6, 2019
Although I don't want to waste too much time drawing comparisons between Joe Hill and his dad (Stephen King) he wrote this novel in a way where it's almost impossible to not at least bring it up. The book is essentially a mash-up of Christine, IT and The Gunslinger/Drawing of the Three, with a melting pot of other minor allusions. That said, it stands on its own and only true SK scholars will notice all the references. In a way, that's part of the fun.

As for the writing, Joe must have been excellently tutored in the art of pacing, character development, and how to take a great theme and turn it into something original. The mood and atmosphere fits nicely in the King universe, but not so neatly that it feels like a ripoff. This book is most reminiscent to Stephen's novels in terms of prose than plot.

The nemesis of NOS4A2 is a quirky vampire-of-sorts who kidnaps children and takes them to his invented amusement park of horrors called "Christmasland." Visually, this novel is succulent with macabre Christmas imagery. The villain is spooky to be sure, but also fun to follow. He's not scary like Pennywise, but there is something captivating about his deranged intentions that mirrors the evil clown. The protagonist is a kick-butt female who is flawed but determined. The more minor characters are well-developed and intriguing. It's an edge-of-your-seat ride--for the most part--from beginning to end.

OVERALL: While the book clocks in at nearly 700 pages, it reads quickly and keeps your interest from the first page. Admittedly, it does feel unnecessarily long at times and by the halfway point you have a pretty good idea how it will all end up, but the journey is still exciting and never feels like a waste of time. Joe may have famed writer's blood, but this a worthy novel that proves the kid has plenty of talent of his own. Recommended!
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 21 books4,873 followers
September 21, 2023
Oh boy, where to start. I believe I need to start with Joe Hill's daddy, Mr. Stephen King, my all-time favorite author forever and ever.
When I found out King's son was writing novels, I was skeptical. I decided I had enough *new* Stephen King to keep me fed.
But then I was at the library and I saw the cover for NOS4A2 and I thought, "Hmmm, what if?"
So I brought it home and I cracked it open and Oh. My. Gawd.
I was not prepared. *no spoilers*
So, I was totally sucked in and I wasn't entirely sure I was comfortable. This was my first go around and I wasn't sure if Hill could be trusted! There were a few times I wanted off--I closed the book after a couple of scenes and wasn't sure I was going to open it back up again but I'll tell you when the whole thing flipped for me: I fell in love with the protagonist, Vic. Not at first--it was a slow love. Hill brought in a friendship that developed between two girls and I saw Hill's sweet side (up until then, it was mostly gruesome and grim). The sweet side I REALLY loved. Then Hill brought in two more characters that I fell head over heals in love with--so much so I found myself mind chatting "I hope he doesn't kill them, please don't die!"
I do this during King's novels too. I fall in love with people and pray that they don't die because my heart would burst.
This story that Hill wrote is so imaginative, so original, I have never read anything like it. It was disgusting, horrifying, fascinating, endearing, raw

I just straight up LOVED it. I have "Heart Shaped Box" sitting on my night stand right now and that's going to get started tonight!
So just know that this book is not for the faint of heart--it's not for people that can't handle violence or cuss words or intensity. It's a horror novel first but it's also a great character study and full of heart.I'm so excited to have found a new favorite author and it thrills me that we're keepin' it in the family! <3 xox
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,215 reviews3,223 followers
December 19, 2020
5.0 Stars - Re-read Review
I love this book even more every time I read it and it has definitely become one of my favourite horror novels. I highly recommend the audiobook because the narration really adds to the reading experience. The story is action packed so, despite the length, I devour this book every time I read it. This is such a perfect holiday horror read.
Profile Image for Stepheny.
381 reviews545 followers
June 2, 2015

Joe Hill should just change his name to Joe THE FUCKING MAN Hill. Anyone care to sign my petition? :D

When I read Heart Shaped Box I was a little underwhelmed. I felt that, while it was a great debut novel, it lost something crucial along the way. But when I read Horns something inside of me just got it. I could totally dig it. Some books have an effect on me that is just impossible to explain; I love it as if it were a part of me.

Going into NOS4A2 I was very nervous. It’s hard to LOVE a book so much when the author still has other books. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. I was even more afraid that I would like it more than my beloved Horns which Delee still won’t read! I have a hard time ever accepting that the next book I read will be my new favorite.

During my trip to Bangor, where I was hoping to meet Stephen King, I was able to pick up a copy of NOS4A2. That’s right! My copy travelled all eleven and a half hours home with me. There’s a certain bond already created with that book and me. I was lucky enough to have a group of ladies to read it with me.

I believe that NOS4A2 will be Joe THE FUCKING MAN Hill’s standout book. There will be the over-the-moon crazies, like yours truly, who will rave over Horns. BUT, I think NOS4A2 will be the one that everyone talks about; and it will be for good reason.

We meet the Brat at a young age and follow her throughout her life. Nothing is ever easy for her and my heart broke for her in so many ways while reading this book I stopped keeping track. While the Brat is our main protagonist, our heroine, I believe there were two characters that I loved more: Maggie Leigh and Lou Carmody. (Hey, I’m a poet and didn’t even know it!)

Lou is the best kind of hero- the kind who is modest and shy and calls you dude because he isn’t all that great in etiquette. He’s overweight and underestimates his own abilities. He’s sweet and kind and gentle. He is truly a wonderful character that I will hold in my heart for a long time to come.

Miss Maggie Leigh. What can I say about Maggie? Well, for starts, all I could picture when reading her character was Juliette Lewis. (#MickeyandMallory4Ever) Anyway- Maggie is a character that you just can’t help but love. You want to reach through the pages and make everything in her life better. I don’t want to say much about her in hopes that you’ll read the book and love her for all the same unspoken reasons I did.

Charlie Manx and Bing are two of the creepiest villains ever. Quick note- Charlie’s overbite and teeth kept getting mentioned which made me resort to images of Gary Busey. The villains are NOT vampires, so stop thinking you don’t want to read this book because it’s a vampire book and wahnnn wahhhnnn wahhhhn. It’s a great book, truly. I would tell you more about these villains and how they aren’t vampires, but really, just read it.

I think that Joe THE FUCKING MAN Hill has a great writing career ahead of him. He is a remarkably talented young writer and I say that NOT just because I am a fan of his father, but as an avid, well-read individual. I look forward to watching the progression of his writing.

Buddy read with some fabulous ladies:

The one and only Radiant Randee, the oh so Lovely Lisa, and of course my Darling Delee!!!!

And how could I forget That Darn Dan?!
Profile Image for Eloy Cryptkeeper.
296 reviews197 followers
November 30, 2021

«A todo el mundo le llegaba el momento de subirse a un coche negro. Este venía y te apartaba de tus seres queridos, y ya nunca volvías».

"Todos vivimos en dos mundos. Está el mundo real, con todos sus hechos y reglas, una lata. Pero todos vivimos también en el mundo que tenemos en la cabeza. Un paisaje interior, un mundo hecho de pensamientos".

No es fácil a esta altura, destacar con algo original, Pero en esta novela Joe hill lo consigue .Obviamente bebiendo a cuenta gotas de diferentes aguas (imposible no hacerlo), pero logra ideas y conceptos muy imaginativos y originales.
En general todos los personajes están muy bien logrados. Pero principalmente destacar a su villano, totalmente detestable.Pero con sus motivaciones bien definidas. Y un esbirro aun peor ,totalmente nefasto y repulsivo.
Como único punto en contra, debo admitir que la primera mitad del libro se me hizo un poco sinuosa, y no me estaba terminando de encantar la construcción narrativa, pero después todo fluye

*PEQUEÑO SPOILER* disfrute mucho y le dan un color extra, los guiños a "papa king"(fan service). el san bernardo gigante, el circo de Pennywise, los soldados de juguete que cobran vida, etc.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,307 reviews28k followers
December 20, 2020
2.5 stars
I was really excited about this book but I feel like it’s way too long.. the beginning is really great and the ending is pretty good but between the 200-600 page mark this book is sooo slow and I just never really connected with the characters or cared about them. I do think the villain Charlie Manx is really interesting and he’s well-written and creepy, but he was the only interesting thing about this book for me. If I wasn’t reading this for a video I might have DNF’ed it. 😬

Here’s my reading vlog where I read this book: https://youtu.be/J2LyhHZvGo4
Profile Image for Chris McGrath.
358 reviews132 followers
March 12, 2013
Joe Hill has described this 700+ page book as "my senior PhD thesis on horror", about a very bad 140 year old man who kidnaps children and takes them to a terrible place called Christmasland. This is an accurate surface description, but doesn't even come close to describing what this book is really about: the truest kind of love, which can come from even the most flawed human beings.

Yes, this is a horror novel, no question, and it's one of the best I've ever read. As with Hill's other novels, the first portion of the book moves along very well and introduces us to this reality and all the unnatural and scary things that are possible here. Then as the story progresses, the characters themselves flesh out into something much deeper than archetypes or plot devices. Each major player in this book is so perfectly fleshed-out, it's easy to begin believing that this story is true and that we are seeing the inner dialog of real people.

One of the most interesting bits about this story is that in many books like it, the main character will insist that their story or special ability is real, or will likely sound crazy, trying to get everyone else around them to believe them. Hill turns this on its head and gives us a much more realistic result: the poor soul experiencing these unnatural things repeatedly has to try to figure out whether she is certifiably insane or not. Rather than trying to convince everyone else this stuff is really happening, she has to convince herself. It makes for a very satisfying read and makes her that much more sympathetic.

And so, while my first impression was simply that this was a great, creepy book, the final third proves that this is truly a beautiful work of literature, with much to say about the human condition, particularly the strange, confusing, and often conflicted love that children and their parents have for each other. It's rare that I am truly moved by any book, and never before have I been moved by a horror novel.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you can't stomach gruesome and disturbing scenes of child kidnapping and violent gore, then this certainly won't be for you; but anyone who can owes it to themselves to read the new great modern horror novel. He's proven that he has all of his father's skill much earlier in life, and writes better endings as well.

Site note: I love the references to Shawshank prison and Derry, Maine, as well as Lovecraft from Hill's Locke & Key series, which officially designates Hill's writing as happening in the greater Dark Tower universe. This has no impact whatsoever on the story, but is a nice little Easter egg for Stephen King fans.
Profile Image for Matt.
937 reviews28.6k followers
October 12, 2020
“He was hideous-old, not to mention hideous. His great bald skull was a globe mapping an alien moon, continents marked by liver sports and bruise-colored sarcomas. Of all the men in the long-term-care war – a.k.a. the Vegetable Patch – there was something particularly awful about Charlie Manx with his eyes open at this time of year. Manx liked children. He’d made dozens of them disappear back in the nineties. He had a house below the Flatirons where he did what he liked with them and killed them and hung Christmas ornaments in their memory. The papers called the place the Sleigh House. Ho, ho, ho.”
- Joe Hill, NOS42A

Life is busy and we’re always trying to find ways to cut corners, save a bit of time, and kill two birds with one stone (though, if you are that busy, you should think about leaving those poor birds alone). To that end, Joe Hill’s NOS42A is a literary hack. It is one book that allows you to cover your seasonal readings for two holidays: Halloween and Christmas.

This is supernatural horror that toys with the notions of peace, love, and joy of Christmastime, finding menace in carols, reindeer, and even the ornaments that dangle from a pine tree. If you like your Yuletide cheer to be tinged with the blood of stolen children, you will not be disappointed.

NOS42A gives you some hints in the title as to its purpose. The string of letters and numbers is printed on the vanity plate of one Charles Talent Manx, who owns a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. In case you have as much trouble with vanity plates as I do, the numbers and letters refer to nosferatu, the German word for vampire.

It is fitting, because Manx has a number of vampyric qualities, to include a certain agelessness. When the novel opens, Manx is a very old man in a Federal Correctional Institution in Colorado. He is there after being implicated in a string of crimes involving the disappearance of children. Only one of his victims ever escaped.

That girl is Victoria McQueen, our protagonist. We first meet her as a child, caught between feuding parents, her mother a bit of a boozer, her father a domestic abuser. Her prized possession is a Raleigh Tuff Burner bicycle, which she uses to escape the confines of her existence:

As [Vic] approached the bridge, she saw that the chain-link fence was down. The wire mesh had been wrenched off the posts and was lying in the dirt. The entrance – just barely wide enough to admit a single car – was framed in tangles of ivy, waving gently in the rush of air coming up from the river below. Within was a rectangular tunnel, extending to a square of unbelievable brightness, as if the far end opened onto a valley of golden wheat, or maybe just gold…She slowed – for a moment. She was in a cycling trance, had ridden deep into her own head, and when she decided to keep going, right over the fence and into the darkness, she did not question the choice overmuch. To stop now would be a failure of courage she could not permit. Besides. She had faith in speed. If boards began to snap beneath her, she would just keep going, getting off the rotten wood before it could give way…The thought of old wood shattering…filled her chest with lovely terror and instead of giving her pause caused her to stand up and work the pedals even harder. She thought, too, with a certain calm satisfaction, that if the bridge did crash into the river, ten stories below, and she was smashed in the rubble, it would be her parents’ fault for fighting and driving her out of the house, and that would teach them. They would miss her terribly, would be sick with grief and guilt, and it was exactly what they had coming, the both of them.

It turns out that the bridge she rides across, and the bike she takes, gives her a very specific kind of power. She is able to access a seam in the world that allows her to span a rickety covered-bridge-of-the-mind and find things that have been lost.

This, of course, is where the supernatural aspects of this story come into play. What I appreciated about Hill, though, is how well he makes the supernatural an extension of the real. His world-within-a-world has rules, and it makes “sense” within that context. More than that, he works hard to build from a foundation of strong characters, especially Vic McQueen.

Vic is a kick-ass heroine, and we follow her as she leaves her trauma-laden childhood and becomes a tough young woman with tattoos and dark dreams who is struggling to make sense of her own memories. (Aside from Manx, she must endure the constant gaslighting of mental health professionals). With her tats, her special powers, and her tolerance of men with glandular issues, she is a bit of a pipe dream for uncomely comic book nerds. Thus, it is with a certain logic that Hill pairs her with an overweight mechanic named Lou, who is as stuffed with pop cultural detritus as he is with McDonalds value meals.

In many ways, this is a comic book story as much as it is horror. Though I avoid comics (and the countless movies they’ve spawned) as though they are venereal diseases, I know that every comic book hero needs a worthy villain. Here, Manx is an excellent foil for Vic McQueen. And like Vic McQueen, he also has a favored vehicle that he is able to use to travel between worlds. His favored destination is a place called Christmasland, an unsettling amusement park where holiday tropes are turned upside down, and the kids play games like “scissors-for-the-drifter.” (Naturally, Manx picks up an assistant named Bing).

NOS42A feels wholly original in concept and execution. In terms of writing style, however, this is as familiar as the flannel pajamas you might wear on Christmas Eve. Joe Hill, after all, is really Joseph Hillstrom King, son of Stephen, and if you ever attempt to prove that talent can be passed along a bloodstream, this is a good case study. Hill writes a lot like his father, right down to the keen focus on broken families, abused children, and a bit of light incest (this latter is one leitmotif I wish remained solely with the father). There is also the usual particularity given to movies, music, and vehicles (the Wraith feels like an incarnation of Christine).

This is not to say that Hill is a mimic. He has talent to spare, and NOS42A creates a stunningly realized mood of dread and chill, while also allowing a strain of black humor to percolate at the edges of the frame. His characters are memorable. His style is fluid and fun, and like his father, he enjoys wordplay, filling these pages with malapropisms, ditties, and bits of rhyme. While there is cursing and gore to spare, he is far less gruesome than I expected. The strongest effects of NOS42A comes from its atmosphere.

To the annoyance of friends and family, I am a Christmas nut. The older I get, the longer I have extended the period of celebration. This year, in between passing out Halloween candy, I flipped over to Hallmark to see Candace Cameron Bure discover the meaning of the season. I would be lying to you if I said I was not listening to The Carpenters Christmas Album while typing these words.

It is to Hill’s credit, then, that I have found NOS42A to be so creepily insidious. The first strains of White Christmas usually have me thinking of childhood, of cookies, of an idealized version of grandma’s house that never really existed. Now, I also have to grapple with an ageless man in an ageless car, carrying a bone hammer; of children with small rows of sharpened teeth; and of ornaments hanging from a tree, somehow made sinister.
Profile Image for Chris  Haught.
580 reviews218 followers
November 23, 2015
Review? Wow..

Of course this book deserves a review. It deserves one of the highest order. But what can I write that will do Joe Hill and his wonderful book any justice?

I mean, really. My ability to rave on this awesome book is dwarfed by the sheer wordpower of Joe Hill. So, here we go.

This was cool.

Uhhhh...yeah. Cool. I liked it.

A lot.

See what I mean? I'm humbled.

Truth is, I'm stuck on knowing what to say that doesn't 1) suck, or 2) spoil. The first is a waste of everyone's time, and the second is a betrayal.

So...read the book. It's F'in brilliant. Even though (or rather especially because) it does not have any . You might expect that it would....but it's better for it all the same.

Okay, Joe. When is your next book coming out?
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