Joe Hill’s newest novel NOS4R2 is a dark and macabre story, playing with the time-worn tropes of horror film and fiction, but managing to create something new and interesting.
Cruising along a supernatural highway in his 1938 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, numberplate ‘NOS4R2’, Charles Talent Manx ‘saves’ children and transports them to the delights of Christmasland, a land of endless gingerbread and candy canes where the children joyfully play their deadly games.
Victoria, known not-so-affectionately to her father as ‘The Brat’, has a talent. When she rides her Raleigh Tuff Burnerr bike into the Shorter Way Bridge, a covered bridge that is no longer there, she travels impossible distances and can find lost things. At a cost.
Then, one day, she goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx at his Sleigh House. Following a deadly encounter that puts Manx into a coma, Victoria tells the police a story that they will believe and reconstructs her life as best she can.
Years later, as an alcoholic mother with her sanity in shreds, she begins to receive (hallucinate?) phone calls from the children in Christmasland, causing her to dread that Manx is once again on the road and coming for his revenge.
NOS4R2 references Hill’s previous novels, Heart-shaped Box and Horns, and his father Stephen King’s novels (like IT), but stands on its own. Manx is a terrifying villian, and I can guarantee that Christmas will never be quite the same again after reading this book.
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