Title: N0S4A2 / N0S4R2 (title depending on country)
Author: Joe Hill
Page Count: 692 pages
Rating: 5 / 5🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄
An old Silver Wraith with a frightening history. A story about one serial killer and his lingering, unfinished business.
Anyone could be next.
We’re going to Christmasland…
“You had to know when it made sense to try to untangle something and when to just cut the motherfucker loose.”
I will preface my review by admitting to my overwhelming bias in favor of loving this book before having even read it for the first time – Christmas horror will always be my favorite niche, and when I discovered this back in 2013, that it had a scary place called Christmasland was all I needed to know to buy a copy on my Kindle.
I read it within a couple of hours, completely absorbed by the characters and the fast pace of the story. I had no idea that the author was Stephen King’s son, or of anything else he’d written, but I was in love with N0S4A2 and needed more. I eventually ended up special ordering the tealish copy above with the wreath – it’s my absolute fav edition of this book! – and I lucked out on the cover I like second best in a used bookshop by my house for around $8 each. So I guess I’m realizing that I’ve bought this book 3 times..? A book collector’s gotta collect! 😛
This past December, I co-hosted a readalong with a lovely girl called Missy on Bookstagram for N0S4A2, and it got such amazing reception! Nearly everyone we knew was participating, and we had giveaways for prizes, and so many entries to the contest of ‘most creative photo involving the book’. We were blown away, and the overwhelming consensus from everyone was between 4 – 5 stars! So if that won’t convince you to read it, I don’t know what will. 😛 (Maybe an actual review…? Here we go!)
N0S4A2 follows Victoria – Vic – McQueen, a girl with an uncanny ability for finding lost things. Also known as the Brat, Vic possesses a bit of magic that only certain other people have – a sort of way to cut through space and time and travel in between different Inscapes – or, places made up of thought and dreams. She uses her bike and a bridge to do this, but when the thing she goes looking to find is ‘trouble’, she gets in over her head and comes face-to-face with murderous demon children and a vampiresque child kidnapper named Charles Manx. The effects of them meeting end up following both of them for the rest of both of their lives.
Despite the story mostly taking place during summertime, this is definitely one to read when it’s cold and snowy out (if you can!). Manx is a chilling villain, and his disgusting cohort, Bing, is absolutely vile! The parts of the book spent in Christmasland are some of my favorites, and as a visual accompaniment if you’re into that sort of thing, there’s a graphic novel by Joe Hill that serves as a sort of prequel and elaborates on the backstory of Manx’s character – I reviewed it here awhile ago!
I gave this 5 stars both times I read it, and think I loved it even more on the reread since it was like revisting an old friend years later. The characters are so fleshed out and developed, from Vic with her relatable daddy issues and fierce love for her son, to said son, son’s cool and nerdy dad, and even – maybe especially – the villains. Even the supporting characters, like the Scrabble tile wielding Maggie and the police folk later in the book hold their own as interesting characters.
Another thing I love about this are the nods to many of the things I love scattered throughout the story. From Firefly quotes to a mention of how expensive Buffy the Vampire Slayer tattoos are (they are, I have a forearm to prove it! 😛 ), the little mentions of pop culture – and especially nerd culture – were well spaced and not overly done.
What’s maybe even cooler are all of Hill’s nods to his father’s own work – from the Dark Tower series to my recently read fav, IT, N0S4A2 managers to pack a lot of really cool references in its pages. I’d definitely suggest getting the physical copy, because I’m not sure if the digital one had the cool maps and photos in it the first time I read this!
Hill’s writing style is a bit more fast paced than his father’s – Stephen King’s writing is often a bit more descriptive, and I found that the chapters here were shorter, which made the pages fly by. For a 600+ page book, it’s really easy to get through! I had my roommate read it for the readalong as well, and although he’s normally slower getting through books, he finished this one with time to spare and surprised even himself by how quick it was to read! So don’t be daunted by the page count – get it & give it a shot. 🙂