Book Review Joe Hill NOS4R2
2013. Publisher – William Morrow.
A very powerful horror novel about a child-snatching demonic figure, Manx and his vintage Rolls Royce, with the license plate, NOS4R2 (NOS4A2 in some US editions). If you haven’t decoded it already it spells out Nosferatu.
Manx travels through dimensional portals, taking the kidnapped children to his own private Christmasland, where they feel happy, but slowly turn into monsters.
Manx meets his match when he collides with a young girl called Vic McQueen who can also travel interdimensionally using her pedal bike to cross a bridge that comes up when she needs it.
Vic survives her struggle with Manx, and puts him in a coma, close to death, but he survives, escapes and years later, he abducts Vic’s own son, forcing her to return for a rematch. Vic is pushed to the limits of her sanity and faces arrest for various deaths and abductions committed by the man the cops believe to be already dead. Her determinism for destroying Manx and Christmasland is unstoppable but can she bring herself to hurt monsters who were once children, including if necessary, her own son?
Impressive work with lots of parallels to Joe Hill’s father’s work. (Hill is Stephen King’s son). The psychic powers seem out of The Dead Zone, both writers write about writers on the edge of their sanity finding out the evil is real, (Vic draws comic books). The NOS4R2 has shades of Christine, while Manx’s map of his dimensional routes directly references Pennywise from King’s It and Shawshank Prison (The Shawshank Redemption).
There is much originality too, and the story often gets unbearably tense. It is relentlessly readable.
The car isn’t really vampiric, as it is Manx who is the real monster here, naively convinced that he is genuinely doing the children he takes some good.