NOS4A2 by Joey Hill
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.
NOS4A2 was my first horror book ever. Well, the first horror book that I actually read as horror (I’ve read other books from the horror shelves that felt urban fantasy to me.)
The first interesting thing is the misspelling of nosferatu in the title. Based on the title, I was expecting a Dracula like vampire. That’s not what I got.
Instead, the main character is this creepy, anti-Santa, emotion-sucking nosferatu. There are emotion-sucking vampires in other books, yes, but this particular vampire is not like them.
The best part of NOS4A2 is the epilogue. It is sweet and touching and really beautiful.
I am not sure I know what is the worse part. Maybe the middle. I was really ready to be done halfway through the book. It just seemed to go on and on and on. It was almost an effort to make myself read, until things got good again.
The second annoying/interesting part is the same part: chapter headings. Sometimes a chapter ends, but the sentence continues into the next chapter as the title.
So one chapter ends like so:
There was only her breath and roaring, raging static, that endless waterfall of sound, rising in volume, building to a maddening intensity and then building some more until she wanted to cry out for it to stop, the word coming to her lips, stop, stop it, her lungs gathering air to shout, and that was when the bike thudded back down in
This is an amazingly long sentence, 62 words, but it’s not finished and I will admit, the first time I saw a sentence like this, I thought my copy was damaged. But the next page is the first page of the next chapter and it is entitled:
This method of chapter titles was confusing the first few times I saw it, but I got used to it.
Vic is the main character. She has the power to create a Shorter Way Bridge. This power wrecks her life. If she hadn’t had it, she would never have encountered the evil anti-Santa vampire without it. Perhaps I should say meeting the villain ruined her life. (But villains do that, don’t they? The ruin lives.)
He kidnaps her and she escapes. But she’s haunted by phone calls from the other children he’d kidnapped ever since.
It makes her a bad mate for the hero of the book: Lou. He’s over weight, loves bikes and Vic both. He deserves someone better, someone able to be with him.
But they have a child together and when he’s in danger, Vic is amazing. That’s when the story really gets going. I wish it had happened earlier. I mean, amazing. She finally gets her stuff together.
If it wasn’t for the epilogue, I don’t think I would like the ending. The epilogue saves it.
NOS4A2 wasn’t especially scary. It didn’t give me nightmares. Maybe that means it isn’t horror. I don’t know.
Except for the nosferatu, I am not even sure what horror elements are present in NOS4A2. Maybe it is very unusual horror? I don’t know enough about the genre to say.
Would I read this again? No.
But it is a decent read. Not great – it needed to be about 200 pages shorter – but decent.