Audie Award Finalist, Solo Narration - Female, 2014
Joe Hill, the acclaimed, award-winning author of the New York Times best sellers Heart-Shaped Box and Horns, plunges you into the dark side of imagination with a thrilling novel of supernatural suspense that will have you flinching at shadows and checking the rearview mirror again and again....
Don't slow down
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 lead 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....
Joe Hill's acclaimed works of fiction, Horns, Heart-Shaped Box, and 20th Century Ghosts, have already earned him international acclaim. With NOS4A2, this outstanding novelist - "one of America's finest horror writers" (Time magazine); "a major player in 21st-century fantastic fiction" (Washington Post) - crafts his finest work yet. Disturbing, mesmerizing, and full of twisting thrills, Hill's phantasmagoric, devilishly playful masterpiece is a terrifying high-octane ride.
©2013 Joe Hill (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
"Quite simply the best horror writer of our generation, Joe Hill’s masterful storytelling is on full display in NOS4A2. It is by turns terrifying and hilarious, horrifying and full of heart, and relentlessly compelling." (Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of The Prophet)
"Fascinating and utterly engaging, this novel is sure to leave readers wanting more. One thing is for certain, however. After reading this book, readers will never hear Christmas carols in quite the same way again." (Library Journal, starred review)
"[A] new take on the fantasy-horror genre...Highly recommended." (The Sun Herald Sydney, Australia)
When you read this novel, it will become clear why my headline is written as it is.
NOS4A2 is a story you won't want to miss. Well written, with a fresh, compelling storyline. A chilling start, and then it slows a little, but that is just necessary for information gathering, and character building--which all comes together with dizzying speed. I literally could not stop listening - everytime I put the ipod down to do something else, I couldn't wait to get back to it.
At times I completely forgot I wasn't listening to a Stephen King novel, but I guess it is only normal that his son would have picked up some of his style over the years. Joe Hill is an excellent author, as shown by his many publications so far. This one is my favorite.
Charlie Manx is a really bad man of 100+ years old, who loves Christmas, and claims he has to "save" children from bad parents by kidnapping them and taking them to his Christmas Land to live. Unfortunately, most of the parents are killed or maimed in the process, unless they are saved to be used for "fun" games by the children in Christmas Land. One of the children who Manx kidnapped, escapes. Known as Vic (Victoria), she was a scrappy, tough kid who had a knack for "finding" things that were lost -in a way that even she didn't understand. Her gift becomes more clear to her as she grows into the strong and determined adult who fights the evil Manx to protect those she loves. It's hard to write a review without divulging too much information, but I haven't given anything away here, as this is all information you get quite quickly.
This is the first novel I've listened to narrated by Kate Mulgrew--and what a talent. She has a real grasp on what each character should sound like, and puts her heart and soul into it. I will definitely check out other works by her.
I feel lucky that so many King horror stories seem to primarily take place in my state of Colorado (Misery, The Shining, the Stand, etc) as does this one. I can picture where all the action takes place, as they are loosely based on actual locations or structures, which makes them deliciously creepy to read.
A special treat at the end of this novel is Joe Hill speaking about his writing, some favorite authors, and a little about growing up in the King household. Very interesting.
WOW! NOS4A2 puts Heart-Shaped Box to shame, no question. This is a phenomenal book made all the better by Kate Mulgrew's superb narration. We all know that a bad narrator can made an otherwise-great book unlistenable; believe me, no danger of that here! Mulgrew is pitch-perfect with every single character. Her interpretation of Manx in particular is skin-crawlingly good. I will certainly be purchasing any other projects to which she lends her vocal talents! Out of the 100+ audiobooks I've downloaded from Audible, I'd say I've had about a 50/50 success rate. Some have been sublime, others downright unlistenable. NOS4A2 definitely falls in the former category!
NOTE: This one starts off with a terrific bang then slows down for just a little bit to do some set-up. Don't be thrown off by the momentary lull---by the time you hit the two-hour-mark, things are revving up again and they never slow down for the rest of this incredible ride!
I'm a visual designer. I listen to audiobooks throughout my day while I work. So, to me, a "good" audio book is one that keeps my interest even while I am not focused on it 100%.
Once I started this ride, I couldn't turn it off. I listeneded in the car, at the gym, and as I went to sleep. Stayed awake until 4am on the 3rd day- just to finish.
I have sampled ( and rejected) so many audiobooks that promise a "kick-a$$" heroine, but deliver a shrill and unconvincing performance by the narrator. Mulgrew was perfection! I believed every word as Vic, and her performance of Charlie Manx struck just the right creepy chords.
I'll look for more from Joe Hill. But I think my next purchase may be anything narrated by Mulgrew.
When I like something I'll let you know. If I don't, I'll let you know that too!
Joe Hill has written an amazing story about a young Victoria with a talent to use her bicycle to find lost things. Unfortunately, Vic finds some things she really isn't looking for. Vic meets many memorable and well developed characters as she puts a child abductor in jail. I don't want to say too much about the story because I'm afraid that I'll spoil your enjoyment of allowing the story to unfold for you. Let me say that this is a riveting story. When you're finished I think you'll understand why I'm not giving out too many details.
Now, let me say that Kate Mulgrew is every bit as amazing and awesome as Joe Hill's story. If you don't care for the story, listening to Kate Mulgrew's performance alone is worth the credit. Bravo Ms. Mulgrew, bravo.
NOS4A2 is a great experience and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Books make the world a better place
If you have the right 'equipment' you can travel imaginary roads and experience supernatural wonders...but you must pay the price.
This is a good horror story (strike that)...This is a REALLY GOOD horror story and Stephen King should be proud of his son who is most definitely a chip off the old block. At the start the listener/reader is enticed by the creepy title hinting at vampires, blood and gore but this is not precisely the case. The listener/reader is introduced to Charles Manx, an old man of +110 years, whose peculiarity is to be alive. After spending almost a decade in a coma and after being officially declared as dead, Charlie ‘wakes up’. This unnerving scene is the first of many. We learn that Charlie drives a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith…that is also ‘alive’. He and his minion (Bing) go looking for kids that are ‘brutalized’, taking them to Christmasland…a place where all the kids are happy and never want to leave. We also meet Victoria ‘Vic’ McQueen (also the ‘Brat’) who is the strong, complicated and far from flawless heroine. She discovers she has a rather special power as she is able to transport herself to different physical locations by pedaling her bike (her Raleigh Tuff Burner) and riding through a covered bridge. She can find lost things but is ‘costs’ her. Sometimes the things she finds are tangible, like her mother’s bracelet a lost picture, etc. but sometimes she encounters things that are less tangible; such as her meeting with a stuttering librarian (Maggie) and Maggie’s special scrabble letters. It’s when Vic goes looking for trouble that her story gets entangled with that of the malevolent and uniquely nasty villain, Charlie.
This supernatural suspense story is fused with well-developed characters that are complex in their own ways and the plot is interesting and moves quickly. Whilst being edgy, dark, scary and at times uncomfortable, the novel is also a book about family and the contentious relationships that exist between parents/children and husbands/wives. There are numerous scenes and characters that are memorable but of course Vic and Charlie are particularly unforgettable. NOS4A2 kept me up at night because I just could not stop listening. I definitely recommend this to any horror or suspense loving fan and to all who are on the hunt for a truly spellbinding listen.
The wonderful characters and rich descriptions. And the "can't stop listening" level of suspense.
Very early on in this book I wondered "WOW, who the heck is this guy and why haven't I heard of him before? He could give Stephen King a solid run for his money" having no idea in the world that he was, in fact, a chip off the old King block until I looked him up online. As an author Joe Hill stands firmly on his own even though this acorn didn't fall far from the tree. Hill's style is in no way a lesser imitation of his fathers' work, although the writing is clearly influenced by it in all of the best possible ways. If you loved "It" or any of King's best, you really must read this one. Personally I can't wait to read more of his work.
Also: be sure to listen right through the credits where Hill sneaks in a creepy little plot epilogue, followed by an interesting author's commentary on audiobooks, the wonderful Kate Mulgrew, and his experience of growing up in a family of writers.
I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.
Joe Hill really writes an awful (in a good way) novel..this was ucky creepy and I'm still thinking about it a week and another good listen later. It was truly not a fun listen and really got to me but I still am glad I listened. Made to be listened to rather than read, Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek "Voyager" fame shows her narrating ability in Hills' iconic horror novel..she has a flexible voice that can do many registers from high to low and displays an excellent ability to put the creep into creepy. Don't fall asleep to this novel..it will bring on BAD dreams......garenteed!
This is the kind of plot that makes the horror genre honk its horn in excitement. While there are some reminiscent scenes similar to Hills more famous dad's iconic novel "Christine", Joe Hill doesn't stand on literary parents productivity with this example of his work.
This book may wreck Christmas for some of you..I'm glad I listened to it in the spring as I don't want to hear "Holly Jolly Christmas" for a long time.
I'm quite serious about listening to it while falling asleep. I did and my brain was full of the monstrosity of the Rolls "Wraith" trapping ME and taking me for a ride while I slept.
I need to find a NICE book to listen to while I fall asleep I guess.
I found NOS4A2 to be absorbing and disturbing, all at the same time. Joe Hill's descriptive writing style painted the story easily in my mind's eye while building up the anticipation on what will happen next all the way up to it's final climax then it left me thinking of the "What ifs."
NOS4A2 spans through many years, from the time Vic McQueen is a child discovering her own, very real roads through her imagination while interchangingly delving into Charles Manx' twisted and horrific version of Christmas along with other supporting characters that make this story even more creepy and sometimes sad. During these years, many disturbing acts occur that lends an air of impossibility of triumph for Vic while other acts are heartwarming and sad. With the wide mix of scenery within NOS4A2, I experienced many reactions while reading NOS4A2 from horrified to sad to mirth and sometimes wistful.
I thought the characters were easy to relate to, Vic McQueen, or easily disliked and fear, Charles Manx, because they were created with such real to life attributes especially Vic. Because of the real to life characteristics of the characters, the story seemed more realistic which makes the horror aspect stand out terrifically within this book.
I'd recommend NOS4A2 to anyone who loves a good, well told horror story. You can't miss with NOS4A2 nor will you be sorry about the time spent reading this novel.
Kate Mulgrew's performance for the most part was right on the money. Kate can read the male, female and children parts very well and with various ranges of emotion, except there were several places when she was reading Vic, her voice came across as too gruff and harsh, almost like a heavy smoker's voice which I feel didn't fit Vic and this would throw me out of the scene, bringing to mind something out of place.
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You know those audio books that you love so much that you start writing the glowing review in your head while doing crunches at the gym when you've barely reached part 2? The kind of book that has you lowering your headphones and casting a withering glare for only the most dire of interruptions?? The kind you finish in record time, pausing only to bathe and even then skipping conditioner and all but the major body parts??? Well this is that book, and if you enjoy nerd humor, awesome characters, a seriously creepy narrator and an even creepier Christmas madman then buy it!!- and listen allllll the way to the end....
Myst/thrillers and ✨fun fantasies✨are my favorites but always open for a good story.
It is so refreshing to come across a writer that writes to the, "smart reader". This was my first Joe Hill book and I was surprised and impressed by the caliber of his writing, he has definitely inherited his fathers, (Stephen King's), ability to spin a spooky yarn that takes you on a gripping roller coaster ride.
A fast pace, combined with well constructed characters provoked some thrilling and unexpected intensity. From the mystical heroine to the horrible villains, the characters have such depth that they draw you right into their dreadful altered reality. For the thriller/horror seeker this scary and suspenseful read will not disappoint.
A 115 year old convicted kidnapper/murderer, awakens from a 5 year coma,.. dies,.. gets embalmed, and then....walks out of the hospital...
As an act of revenge against the young girl who aided in his conviction years earlier, he and his creepy, murdering minion, snatch her young son with the intent of taking him into a bone chilling, fantasy world; "Christmasland". He would only be one of the many.
A brave, mystical, but also, damaged heroin must use all of her recourses and abilities to try to save her son from a dammed eternity.
The narrator did a great job with the up and down pace and the different character voices. I will be looking for Hills next book with the hope that he can keep up the highly exciting, first rate plot lines.
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