SYNOPSIS: 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. – via Goodreads
So after reading Horns a while ago at Cara’s behest, I sort of fell in love with Hill’s work. But that could have been a fluke. So I started reading Heart-Shaped Box after that, which was technically just supposed to be a few pages to test run my Kindle and instead I ended up obsessed and reading non-stop. I held off of NOS4A2 for as long as I possibly could, so as to savour the last full-length novel of his that I had. What a rewarding experience. NOS4A2 is a pretty heavy journey to undertake, with many characters, both likable and not. The layout and presentation of the story was very cool, too, though it takes a few chapters to completely grasp how the book is structured, but the minute you understand it, it is just awesome. What I really liked what how Hill referenced some of his other work, the ones I specifically recognised when he spoke of the inscapes was the Treehouse of the Mind (Horns) and Craddock McDermott (Heart-Shaped Box). It is fascinating to me how Hill works so much with inscapes, and makes them work, too. Anyways, enough about that. Vic McQueen is a character you feel for and dislike in equal measure at times, but Lou is the one character that is just really sweet. I felt for him, though, with his severe weight issues and confidence problems and all, he was so adorable. The first few chapters of this book already draw you in when discussing Manx, his issues, and his sudden waking and talking to the nurse. Talk about creepy! I am a fan of the way that the story is so fantastical, yet at the same time it isn’t impossible while you are reading it, and that is no simple feat to achieve when writing a story of this magnitude. It perfectly reflected how Vic felt about her Shorter Way Bridge, and how others had to accept or reject this concept later, one that she didn’t know if she believed or not. It is a really heavy book to undertake and read, it really sits with you and weighs on you, so be aware of that, but also be aware that it is a magical and fantastical story that works, flows well, and is incredibly well written. The focus and obsession on Christmas and Manx’s inscape of Christmasland was freaky, too, and Manx’s partner, Bing Partridge, would make my skin crawl sometimes with the things that he said. That was one sick individual. The story had a lot of focus on the mistakes we make as people, and the love we think we deserve, as well as the company and the lives, which I thought was touching and crushing. The book really gets into Vic, the flawed individual that she is, but how much she loves certain people in her life, no matter that she feels she has wronged them or is undeserving of them. I am hands down a fan of Joe Hill’s work. He is a damn fine writer with fantastic stories to tell, and I just cannot wait to see what he comes up with in the future.