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692 pages, Hardcover
First published April 30, 2013
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.
“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.
"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.
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.
"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."
"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.”
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.