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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, May 2013 - Christmasland is a place where every day is Christmas morning and every night is Christmas Eve. This might not sound like fertile ground for a horror novel, but rest assured; just as there's nothing funny about Pennywise the Dancing Clown in Stephen King's It, there's nothing merry about Christmasland in NOS4A2. Joe Hill tells the story of decrepit child thief Charlie Manx, who travels the country in his Rolls Royce Wraith taking mistreated kids to Christmasland, where they live happily forever playing games like "bite-the-smallest" and "scissors-for-the-drifter". The only girl who managed to escape his clutches and put Manx in prison for life finds that even Manx's death can't keep him from his quest to make sure every mistreated child is taken to Christmasland. As eerie as a Bing Crosby album played at half speed, NOS4A2 is a thoroughly creepy and compulsively readable supernatural thriller. Kate Mulgrew shines as narrator, turning in a spot-on performance as Victoria McQueen, a tough-as-nails if emotionally frail heroine. —Michael, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

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....

NOS4A2

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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    4,341
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    2,746
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • 3 Stars
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  • Howard
  • Cumberland, MD, United States
  • 05-25-13

Yes its five stars - and worth every one of them.

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.

32 of 43 people found this review helpful

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  • Jackie
  • Lithonia, GA, United States
  • 06-29-13

No don't do it! Read the 1 and 2 star comments

What would have made NOS4A2 better?

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.

Has NOS4A2 turned you off from other books in this genre?

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.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

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.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

22 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathryn
  • Baxter, MN, United States
  • 05-26-13

Not for me

This book was completely out of my genre ( have listened to a few Stephen king that i didn't mind) and I don't think this was a very good experience for me. I do not have sensitive skin and I usually don't get offended but the language mixed in with this story was to the point of disgusting me. I ound it borderline vulgar and I was starting the constant eye roll and hearing the voice in my head go..'seriously? How many times have we said that body part now? People don't really talk like that do they? ' It was just..gross. I thought it took an extremely long time to get thru this book and I have istened to some 30 hour long ones and it didn't hold my attention just made me want to get thru it. I did not find the narrator great or teriffic but nerve grating with her raspy overacting. Was not a pleasant experience for me.

45 of 63 people found this review helpful

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  • Jane
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 10-16-13

I wanted it to be over.

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.

OTHER THINGS:
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.

ANOTHER REVIEWER:
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?”

NARRATOR:
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

28 of 39 people found this review helpful

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I don't understand the reviews!

Only mildly creepy with a prolonged story almost as if it was originally a novella that was lenngttthennned to become a novel.

I struggled to get through it, finally quit it most of the way through.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • juli
  • Hamilton, ON, Canada
  • 10-04-15

Stopped halfway

I know that I'm in the minority, but I did not enjoy the experience of listening to this at all. Most of the voices for the characters were fine, but the description of the main antagonist's voice did not match how Kate Mulgrew chose to act it out. I found the main protagonist unlikable for most of it, and the descriptions of most everything dragged on too long. At the 1/4 point, I was ready for it to be over. It could have been made into two books very easily. I don't normally stop a book or audiobook and walk away entirely, but the deciding factor were some of the over-the-top disturbing descriptions that were given. I'm no stranger to horror, but this was too much.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • Bartonville, TX
  • 05-06-13

Outstanding Symphony of Horror

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. 

30 of 43 people found this review helpful

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Am I crazy?

Man, when I saw the reviews of this book I was super excited. The reviews are what got me to stick with it.... until with 5 hours left, I simply couldn’t take it anymore. It just goes on and on and on. I hated the narrator. I didn’t like the characters. The story could have been 8 hours if he had just left out all of the stuff that Just didn’t matter. Every time I stopped listening, I actually had to give myself a pep talk to start up again. Then cringe my way through the 5 minutes it took to get used to the narrator’s voice. After listening for over 10 hours, I was going to just skip to the last half hour so I could at least know what happened. So I did... but once she started in with Lou’s voice... I just turned it off. It just wasn’t worth listening to that terrible narration for one more minute. Again.... for ALL of the praise given to Ms. Mulgrew, maybe it is me. I would suggest listening to the excerpt first, if it bothers you AT ALL don’t do it. It only gets worse.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Joe and Kate a Match Made in Audible Heaven!

Joe Hill doesn't just know how to craft a story, he knows how to absolutely slay and ending. The characters are rich, engaging and at times beautifully broken. Kate Mulgrew gives an unparalleled performance and together these two have combined their wonder twin like powers in the form of a captivating tale. One of my favorite audio books to date.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book

Great book, and the reader is phenomenal! Could not wait to start listening again when I would have to pause it. Kept me interested the whole time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful