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)
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.
Let me ask the producers a question; why this reader?
I believe such a fate awaits me in hell, so I'm going all in for Jesus... In a word, no.
Kate Mulgrew makes every character sound like a 60 year old, washed up, drunk lounge singer. Something of the drunk Mrs. Krabappel.
I LIKED THIS BOOK. IT WAS SCARY, SUSPENSEFUL, WEIRD, CRAZY, AND MACABRE. I PRIMARILY LOVE HORROR AND THRILLER SO THIS WAS RIGHT UP MY ALLY. I WILL SAY I DO NOT LIKE ALL JOE HILL BOOKS BUT HE SCORED HIGH ON MY LIST WITH HIS SPOOKY "VAMPIRE" VILLAIN AND HIS SIDE-KICK. FEMALE LEAD WAS AWESOME AND COULD RELATE A LOT WITH HER. HE DOES WRITE LIKE HIS DAY, VERY IN DEPTH CHARACTERS AND STORY LINE.
A shorter version...it was to long in the middle, I personally did not like the profanity, dysfunctional families, pedophile suggestions, and the rape by Bing was gross. I struggled to get through this audible book...several times I was going to fast forward just to be done because, the story dragged on and on.
No. I am a fan of S.King have listened or read all of his books. I like this genre just couldn't wrap my head around where J. Hill was going with this story. In some parts holes were left in the story and in other parts holes were filled in to the point that it was overflowing and unnecessary.
Tone and diction were fine...but for me the male and female character voices were blurred Vic sounded masculine and Lou and Max were high pitched.
The redeeming qualities were seeing the results of bad parenting and dysfunctional families can lead to another generation of bad parenting and dysfunctional family.
Vic was clearly the hero, it was good to listen to her redeem herself at the end after years of a tortured life with drugs, sex, and demons. She admits to her part of over-reacting to her parents behavior towards her and that she wasn't a good mother when she abandoned her son (Bruce Wayne). This was my first Joe Hill book...I may try again.
I was going to give the over all story 1 star but after listening to the author at the end explain his rationale for writing the story I moved up to 2 stars. The preview I listen to sounded okay. Reading the comments...most were positive and only a few were negative so I made my purchase because the positive comments out-weighted the negative comments. However in this case the negative comments were on target with my thoughts on this audible book.
Joe Hill himself calls NOS4A2 his "senior thesis on horror fiction", and notes that in some ways that makes it a senior thesis on Stephen King. This is a very accurate description of Hill's latest novel, as he expertly applies the formula his father made famous and crafts a truly chilling story. While I don't think NOS4A2 is as good as King's best work, it's certainly a respectful addition to the genre, and well worth your time if scary books are your thing.
The first ingredient of every Stephen King-esque horror story is a flawed protagonist. Someone the reader can identify with as they start out normal but eventually delve deeper and deeper into the supernatural. As things build and build, our main character will need to overcome their own weaknesses to survive.
In NOS4A2 we follow Vic "Brat" McQueen, an average girl with the not-so-average ability to find things. How does she find things? She rides her bike through an abandoned covered bridge and across space in time, to the exact place she needs to be to find what she's looking for. I'm sure you can guess what happens next: eventually Vic goes looking for the wrong thing, and ends up in big trouble. This is where the story truly takes off.
Charles Manx is the main boogeyman lurking within the pages of NOS4A2. Manx is 150 years old, drives a strange 1930s Rolls Royce, and kidnaps innocent children away to a terrible realm known as Christmasland where the kids deteriorate over time, becoming twisted and evil pictures of lost innocence. At times Manx is a perfectly crafted, terrifying mixture of Hannibal Lecter and Pennywise the evil clown - but at times he wanders a bit too close to some sort of Christmas-themed Batman villain. Does a bad guy using gingerbread-scented smoke as a weapon sound goofy or scary to you? It can obviously go either way, and Hill is an excellent writer who manages to keep it on the creepy side throughout most of this novel. Every once in a while he drifts a bit, but for the most part he stays on the rails.
My main criticism of NOS4A2 is that it's just too long, and for what it's worth I've had a similar opinion of most of Stephen King's latest work (11-22-64, Duma Key, Under the Dome). Personally I'm hoping that Joe Hill's next book breaks away from dear old dad in this department and tightens things up considerably. I think that a tight, concentrated version of NOS4A2 at half the length could have been a 5 star book. It's especially disappointing that despite all of this length, we don't learn much of Manx's backstory. His methods are creative, but his motivation is lacking. He's just kind of generic evil. A writer as talented as Joe Hill should be able to give us more.
Kate Mulgrew does a fantastic job with the narration. Her Manx voice is especially creepy, and the performance is just excellent overall. My only criticism is that she pronounced Haverill as Hay-ver-hill which just sounds weird to this Massachusetts native. Everyone knows it's Hay-vrill! A very minor criticism of her otherwise awesome performance!
My taste vary. I love a good, blood stained horror, but also a well written kids story. Lots of Sci-Fi, but also Hist. Fiction. No boring!!!
I usually don't rush out to buy the newest hot book to come out. I let those I am following read first before I chance my money. Having loved Heart Shaped Box and Horns, I knew I did not need to wait on someone else to tell me this would be good. In my humble opinion this is the best Joe Hill has written yet.
I am sure JH gets tired of being compared to his dad, but having recently read "IT" by Stephen King I can not resist. I mentioned in that review that even though King throws a lot weird stuff and mean monsters at you, it's all just cover, to introduce you to some great flawed characters that you fall in love with. Hill has lots of weird things and mean scary monsters, but he mostly builds characters. You are scared, not because of the monsters, but because you don't want anything bad to happen to the people you have fallen in love with. All though I am not sure that I like the fact that in the book "It" you learn to hate clowns and then Hill ruins Christmas in this novel.
The bad guy is described as a bald Keith Richards with big blue veins covering his bald head. You learn in this book that: The blood of a red headed woman is three degrees colder then a normal woman. A cop does not want to pin a murder on the Gingerbread Man, cause word on the street is "You can't catch the gingerbread man".
Warning: The main difference between Hill and King, is that Hill uses very foul language, a lot worse then his dad would think of and if you read Heart-Shaped Box then you know that Hill is fixated on Blow J@@s. I hate to sound chauvinistic, but the stuff that comes out of the mouths of the women in this book made me cringe. I grew up around foul language and have worked around over the road truck drivers most of my life. If you were alright with Heart-Shaped box then you will be okay with this. Like I said I loved both books.
I hate nepotism, so I am in the position to dislike this author, but the talent of Joe Hill can not be denied. I have all his books in First Edition and plan on collecting everything he writes.
Now if you are not tired of me gushing like a little girl, let me remark on the narrator. I am in total awe of Kate Mulgrew. If you have read the hardback, you still want to get this audio. Nobody could have done a better job. She even does male voices better then some males. I am hoping like Muller and King were, so will be the team of Hill and Mulgrew. I don't know what they paid her but it was not enough.
Christmas Land... It will ring in your head, the spooky way that Kate spins these voices seem odd at first, but it fits.... Kids gone bad, actually a Age Old Villan driving one spooky Rolls Royce and his odd creepy servant set the stage. Just when you thought it was over, a new part beings, and then once more... It is about Revenge, saving a lost Child and a dude that just will not die as he infects your mind with his thoughts.
What if you could just move back and forth in time, and it cost you dearly... but it helps so many people.. this is the Delima.. but wait, and Evil Guy can do it to...
Nosferatu is more human here, just aged and can heal... No fangs or pale skin, a Man who is just Creepy and preys on Children...
Just Creepy enough to be believable, a solid story line that just keeps building up and up!
It isn't a Vampire Book, it isn't really a Horror story either, Nos Vortue
Kids going 'Christmas Land' Get that out of my head.
I like the Female Herioine, nothing rocks more than a Woman who never gives up!
Get this book, you will be glad you did!
I did not like the main character’s thoughts, choices, and actions.
COMPARING JOE HILL TO STEPHEN KING:
Normally I would not want to compare Joe Hill (JH) to his father Stephen King (SK). But that’s the reason I bought this book. I wanted to see if Joe had his dad’s talent or style. So I am comparing them. When SK was talking to a group he said something about elevators breaking. Then with a grin and a gleam in his eye he said “so when you get on the elevator tonight...” He’s having fun scaring you. In SK’S book “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” the girl is lost in the woods and finds all these icky and gross things. She has to do undesirable boring chores. She trudges along, does the job, and hopes to be done soon. I loved her attitude, and I had hope - lots of hope.
Here, I did not feel hope and I did not enjoy Vic’s attitude (the main character in In NOS4A2). She makes bad decisions. She has poor judgment. She frequently sounds mean (although part of that might be the narrator’s fault). In her conflicts with bad guys she is beaten up, injured, limping, suffering and then briefly does some lucky thing to get away or hurt the guy. And her life is worse than it was before. I want to root for someone. I didn’t feel that here. It was not fun.
JH says he is not a fan of Dudley Do-Right heroes. I’m sure many readers will appreciate that. But the way it’s done in this book is not for me. Another way to put it: SK has fun with his stories. JH beats you up.
Another example. In SK’s “It,” Bill rides like the wind on his bike yelling Hi Ho Silver - Away (or something like that). When Vic rides her bike, bats hurt her, something slips, the bike loses a part, she is injured, she hurts.
I was frustrated when the heroine tries to convince herself that she is insane. She doesn’t believe the truth when Maggie tells her something. She sees the bridge but refuses to believe it exists. She knows the bridge takes her to where lost things are. So when it takes her to Bing, a bad guy, why does she think he’s a good guy? Why does she turn her back on him and get taken? She does not do smart things.
Hunter an FBI agent says “Manx is dead.” Vic repeatedly tells Hunter that Manx is alive and kidnaped her son. That conversation was repeated soooo many times during the last part of the book. I was tired of hearing it.
I was disappointed with the main crisis/fight with Manx. I wanted to see him get it, to see him suffer. I did not have a winning feeling. I would have liked that whole section different.
Some good guys get killed which made me mad. Life is too short to read depressing books.
I loved Mustachio25's review (an Amazon reviewer). He lists several gaps in JH’s logic and plotting. Two of those are: “Why does Manx's magical car heal him, while McQueen's magical bike doesn't? If Vic can replace her bike with a motorcycle to use her inscape, why didn't Manx substitute a prison laundry van for his Rolls-Royce and drive off to Christmasland?”
I did not like the narrator Kate Mulgrew. The adjectives that came to mind as I listened to her: angry, loud, demanding, harsh, strident, irritating, jarring. Too many characters sounded mean. If I were reading, the characters would have sounded different . My favorite narrator Frank Muller had a curiosity and wonder in his voice. That was missing here.
The character Maggie stammered which is ok to read. But listening to the narrator stammer was annoying. I would have preferred she soften and shorten the stammering.
Genre: paranormal suspense thriller
I love both Joe Hill and Kate Mulgrew so this book seemed like it would be prefect, right? And it was close to perfect but I couldn’t get over the way Kate Mulgrew said the town name Haverhill (It is Hav’-ril not Have-er-hill)I don’t normally review the audio-books I listen to but it actuly bothered me enough that every time she said it I was pulled out of the story. I figured that people who may be local to MA should know before hand.
Books have always been an escape for me: initially from my studies, now from too much work. A good story is my favorite remedy.
Wow...this was the first time I'd heard a book for which Kate Mulgrew provided the "voice." Like other listeners, I was blown away by her incredible performance. It makes sense, of course, given her substantial acting credits -- I've been a fan ever since "Mrs. Columbo" -- but she still managed to keep me enthralled throughout a book I wouldn't normally consider owing to its violent content. Kudos Ms. Mulgrew!
Yes, I did. I was seriously creeped out by it: less so because of the horror story elements, but because Mr. Hill created such real, flawed characters. The raw "realness" of the protagonists in the unreal world conceived by Mr. Hill left a lasting impression on me. As a result, I will certainly seek out his other work and look for new books in the future.
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: As the book drew to a close, I thought to myself, "I'll need to look for an interview with Joe Hill to hear more about his inspiration for this book..." Imagine my surprise when we were treated to a brief commentary by Mr. Hill at the book's conclusion.
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