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February 24, 2013 / schulerbooks

NOS4A2, by Joe Hill


The first time Vic McQueen set off across the Shorter Way, she was nine — pounding the pedals on her beloved Raleigh Tuff Burner across its loud, clattering slats. All the grown-ups said to avoid that old, covered bridge, because it might come down at any moment, but she just knew that her mom’s lost bracelet was on the other side, somewhere.

And if she found it, and brought it home, maybe her parents would stop arguing, and everything would be alright.

At least, that’s the way the story should go, except that this is the real world — and here, nothing is free. A little girl might be able to cross a rickety old magic bridge that’ll take her where she needs to go, but it’ll hurt her. It won’t solve all her problems, or fix her parents’ marriage, or make her life any better than it is.

And it’ll cost her more than she knows.

How much it will actually cost her is the focus of this dark tale of subtle magic, and how harsh and grey reality truly reacts to childhood fantasy when it comes back in adulthood. It’s a story that unfolds over her lifetime, haunting and wrecking her own marriage and motherhood. And it’s a tale that puts her on a collision course with a seemingly-unstoppable adversary, his broken but deadly minion, a growing family of twisted and inhuman child victims.

And a demon-car named NOS4A2.

Now, if you think I’m going to reveal any more of the plot to you than what I’ve already told, forget it. This is one of those books that should be as much of a surprise as possible.

(It’s enough to know that, since Joe Hill started getting the acclaim he’s been earning, he has yet to put a bad foot forward — something that’s often hard to boast. If you liked Heart Shaped Box, Horns, or 20th Century Ghosts, or have been savoring Locke and Key when it arrives every month, then snap this book up based on that faith alone.)

One thing I will tell you: the villain of this story, one Charlie Manx, is a revelation. He is pathetic evil made flesh, what he does with what he can do will leave you truly ashen in spots, and yet at the same time you may just find yourself feeling sorry for him. Sort of.

Another thing: over Twitter, the author revealed — when asked about certain shout-outs to his father’s works in this book — that NOS4A2 is, amongst other things, a “response” to Stephen King’s It. If you read it with that in mind, then you’ll most likely agree that, with NOS4A2, Joe Hill shows that he not only knows how to write a great horror tale, but also understands how they work, the better to deliver such a response.

Having been a lifelong reader of horror, I can give no better complement.

NOS4A2 drops April 30th. Sink your teeth into it as soon as it arrives.

– Jim Tremlett, Eastwood


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