Joe Hill
William Morrow

The Brat was eight years old the first time she rode over the covered bridge that crossed the distance between Lost and Found.

Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions.  When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be.  Vic doesn’t tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her.  She has trouble understanding it herself.
                Charles Talent Manx has a gift of his own.  He likes to take children for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the vanity plate NOS4A2.  In the Wraith, he and his innocent guests can slip out of the everyday world and onto hidden roads that leads to an astonishing playground of amusements he calls Christmasland.  Mile by mile, the journey across the highway of Charlie’s twisted imagination transforms his precious passengers, leaving them as terrifying and unstoppable as their benefactor.
                And then comes the day when Vic goes looking for trouble…and finds her way, inevitably, to Charlie.
                That was a lifetime ago.  Now, the only kid ever to escape Charlie’s unmitigated evil is all grown up and desperate to forget.
                But Charlie Manx hasn’t stopped thinking about the exceptional Victoria McQueen. On the road again, he won’t slow down until he’s taken his revenge.  He’s after something very special – something Vic can never replace.
                As a life-and-death battle of wills builds – her magic pitted against his – Vic McQueen prepares to destroy Charlie once and for all…or die trying…

Ever since picking up a mass paperback copy of Heart Shaped Box with a Hasting’s gift card I got the Christmas before, I’ve found myself curiously hooked on the writings of Joe Hill since then.  From there I picked up and devoured both is 20th Century Ghosts collection, and his second proper novel Horns when I could find the time and the money.  So, when word came out that his third novel – the curiously titled NOS4A2 – was soon to be published, I suddenly found myself as giddy with fanboy anticipation as a lonely housewife awaiting the new Twilight installment.  Only, in this case, I was awaiting quality literary entertainment.

Okay, okay, that was too easy.  Let’s move on, shall we?

The week NOS4A2 was released to book stores, I did something rare: I bought the first edition hardcover. My sense of fanboy urgency trumped my sense of spendthrift, which hardly ever happens.  The question then remained – would NOS4A2 live up to the standard that Joe Hill set on his previous novels and short stories?  The short answer would be a resounding “oh, HECK yeah!”

NOS4A2 is yet another example of good, quality modern dark fantasy, exploring the concepts of dreams and ideas being made manifest in the real world, and the power the dreamer has to use this kind of creative manifestations for good or evil, and the consequences for both.  The story is not an easy one, like most any store worth the ink and paper it’s printed on.  It’s richly imaginative, densely layered, and quite frankly something that I didn’t want to end so quickly.  And this sucker’s 689 pages long, including the Acknowledgements page…and it’s strongly suggested by the author himself that you read the Acknowledgements page.

Point is, like his other books, it took me very little time indeed to read this lovely tome.  Fans of deliciously dark fantasy needs to check this one out post haste.