Vic (short for Victoria)McQueen is saddled with quite a string of interesting, if not often bad, luck. As a child she had a supernatural power we here she could find lost things by mentally constructing a covered bridge to direct her to the missing object’s location. This bridge would appear, however, only when she was riding her trusty bicycle. This had some pluses; she could locate the missing items after all. But there were downfalls as well. As a result of her travels across physical dimensions, she would suffer for days with headaches and fevers. Her home life wasn’t the best. Her mother was very intense, and behaved as if she had a personality disorder. Her father, though a fun dad, had a tendency to be violent. As Vic grew into adolescence, she became an incorrigible teen which indirectly led to her to be in a position to be kidnapped by Charlie Manx. Charlie was more than your average sadistic child-abductor. It turns out that did his thirty or so victims prior to Vic were never found. And, we learn, the kids were essentially sucked dry of emotion. Charlie is a vampire of novel design.
Vic becomes the only one to escape Charlie’s clutches. As an adult, Vic is a run-down drug and alcohol addict due to her traumatic past. Though she is in recovery, Vic struggles every day with her sanity. She has managed to do a few things right though: she has a great partner named Lou who is a lovable slob of a guy, she has a great 12 year old son named Wayne who is one of those great kids, and she has managed to publish a couple of highly successful puzzle books for kids. What could go wrong? Well, Charlie Manx for sure. Although he dies in prison, Charlie really can’t die. He comes after Vic and kidnaps her son. The chase is on.
Joe Hill has written a solid escapist horror piece of fiction. NOS4A2 has all the elements to make it work well. There is the main character with supernatural powers, a cool villain, an irresistible child protagonist, and a monstrous car. Mr. Hill has clearly taken to heart the ingredients used successfully by his father. And why not? They work well here because Mr. Hill is a good writer. I don’t think this book is as good as one of his earlier novel, The Heart-Shaped Box. The first half of the novel (when Vic is a child) is a tad disjointed. Likewise, Charlie does not quite instill the necessary chills a creature of his stature should. In fact, I thought, Charlie’s human sidekick, Bing, was a creepier guy, hands down. But, when the reader moves into the second part of the story when Vic is an adult and Wayne is kidnapped – hold on. The action takes off like a rocket and I had to hold on tight for the ride. The ending series of events is indeed very creepy and breath-taking.