An old Silver Wraith with a frightening history. A story about one serial killer and his lingering, unfinished business.
Anyone could be next.
We’re going to Christmasland…
I’ve been trying for a while to write a review of the book NOS4R2 (known in the US as NOS4A2). Sometimes it’s difficult to write a review when you don’t really know what positive things you can say… however, I struggled to write this review for the opposite reason… it’s just so good that I risk just filling paragraphs with “Read it! Read it! Read it now!!!” However, I was going through Twitter today and noticed that Joe Hill had tweeted this: “If you love a book, album, app, restaurant – write that good review for ’em. Balance out some of that ever-present online negativity.” Now, I’m absolutely and completely sure that he didn’t mean it to be a plea for good reviews of his writing. However, I took it for a sign- just get out there, write that review that you’ve been umming and aahing over and share your love for his writing.
The first Joe Hill novel that I read (well… listened to) was Horns, last year, briefly before the movie came out. I really enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to read more of Hill’s work. I’m currently listening to Heart-Shaped Box on audiobook and have also started reading the Locke and Key graphic novels. I’ve really enjoyed all of these but… NOS4R2 and it’s prequel Wraith, they were probably the best works of his that I have read so far.
The title of NOS4R2 makes you think of Count Orlok and vampires. You would be right in thinking that the villain of this piece is a vampire, but not the type that you are used to. Charlie Manx doesn’t suck blood, he sucks the soul of young children, turning them into fun-loving killing mini-monsters with fishing hook teeth!! This may sound a bit crazy and a little shlocky, but Joe Hill makes it completely believable. I tried explaining the concept of the book to my husband and I could tell that he just thought it sounded like a strange drug trip but when I was reading it, it all made perfect sense.
The book hinges around the concept of inscapes, a concept developed by Gerard Manley Hopkins referring to worlds built of thought. Charlie Manx’s inscape allows him entry to Christmasland, a world where every morning is always Christmas Day and every evening is Christmas Eve. In fact, Hill makes references in the novel to other inscapes including ‘The Treehouse of the Mind’ from Horns, Lovecraft Keyhole (Locke and Key), The Night Road (Heart-Shaped Box) and even Pennywise Circus (IT- Stephen King, Joe Hill’s Dad btw). There are actually quite a few little nods to King in both NOS4R2 and Wraith, which a really nice touch for the dedicated horror reader. I really love the interconnectedness of Hill’s world and the relationships he creates with other literary works (both those of his father and other authors/poets.
There are several of Hill’s characters that I just absolutely fell in love with completely. Hill’s heroine, Vic McQueen is both kick-ass and messed up and thus makes for a really interesting character. I loved the concept of her own inscape, a bridge which she can cross on her bike in order to find lost items. She was so well-written; Hill really evoked her feelings for her son beautifully. My other favourite characters in the novel were Maggie, the librarian who uses special Scrabble tiles to discover the future, and Lou, an overweight comic-book fan. I don’t want to give too much away about these characters but I could really happily read more about both of them!
I possibly liked Wraith even more than NOS4R2… I’m not sure it’s such a tough decision. Again, I don’t want to give too much away about the plot because it’s so wonderful with so many twists and turns. What I will say though is that Hill actually makes it possible to (briefly) feel sorry for such a monster as Charlie Manx. It takes a very talented writer to create such a well-rounded unusual villain. The illustrations by CP Wilson III are just perfect, the right balance of Christmassy twee, frightening as hell, and absolutely gorgeous. Just the best horror comic that I have read yet!!!
So to sum up, I have nothing left to say except “Read it! Read it! Read it now!”