Book Tour Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Sunday, November 10, 2013
Title: NOS4A2
Author: Joe Hill
Genre: horror
Series: N/A
Pages: 720 (paperback edition)
Published: first published April 2012
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Rating: 4/5

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.

Joe Hill, by all meas, seems to be a mild-mannered, polite, nice guy. Still, he haunts my nightmares. His mind is a terrifying place and taking a willing vacation  into his madness -- aka to open and read one of his books -- is to be by turns scared and amused. A book about a ruthless, clever vampire with a NOS4A2 Vanity Plate on his rare, vintage car that kidnaps children to a place called Christmasland all the while tangling with a scrappy and talented youngster sounds both odd and sinister, but somehow Hill uses this mad idea to create the most memorable horror novel I've ever read.

I was a skeptic for a large portion of this large novel. Even when I was convinced on the characters, I couldn't buy into the way they operated. However, I couldn't put the novel down. I was happy to be with three friends, hanging out in broad daylight, in the first days of November, too. Despite initial misgivings, NOS4A2 got to me. The novel doesn't waste any time. There are A LOT of pages in this, but none of them are wasted. The plot and pace move along at a brisk pace and it's easy to forget how long you've been reading once you've begun. The main characters are well rounded and rendered well, but none shone so much as young Vic McQueen. I am usually a sucker for a good villain, and though I could see the care taken to craft Manx, I was always anticipating his final defeat at the hands of a McQueen.

I don't read a lot of horror because I can't easily leave the story behind. It all tends to stick, and as the best (worst?) experience I've had in that genre, I have thought about NOS4A2 every day since finishing it. As a book, it is both legit crazy and completely terrifying and I kind of hate the author for making that work so well. And I also respect his writing ability because his skills are both obvious and subtle. I haven't read many of Stephen King novels, but from what I can see in this novel, that family's talent for creating memorable stories and scares is definitely in evidence.

With the Christmas season fast approaching, I highly recommend NOS4A2 to anyone who gets easily stressed out by the holidays. It's macabre and dark but engrossing and endlessly entertaining. It gets a rare rec from me for such a horror novel, and I plan to push it on my family, friends, coworkers.... I wouldn't say I would reread it again myself, but I really do want to see others get a chance to visit the creative heights/depths of Joe Hill's talent.


  1. I listened to this one as an audiobook and really enjoyed it, even though I'm not a huge horror fan. You're right, it's pretty irresistible!

  2. Oh man, this sounds AMAZING! I love books that keep me thinking about them long after I finish the book, and this one sounds just like that. I also love audiobooks so I'm glad to see the first commenter liked it on audio.

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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