by Joe Hill
NOS4A2 is the vanity plate attached to a 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith, a car that is more an extension of a man than it is a machine. The man, Charles Talent Manx, uses the Wraith to take children to the happiest place not quite on earth--Christmasland. In Christmasland every morning is Christmas morning. Children are allowed to do whatever they want without a care in the world and without ever getting older. They're able to open presents anytime they wish, drink hot cocoa for every meal, and play games to their hearts' content. They're happy, never missing the families they've been removed from, and never realizing that they're changing.
Victoria McQueen, a young girl whose home life is far from perfect, has recently discovered something fantastic and inexplicable. When she rides her bike across the old condemned Shortway Bridge, instead of arriving at the other side of the gorge which it spans, she instead arrives anywhere she wants to go. She doesn't ride across the bridge often, because it takes a tremendous toll on her both physically and mentally, but sometimes, when something is lost or she's desperately in need of something, she does. One day, when things get especially difficult at home, Vic goes looking for trouble, and revenge on her parents, and the bridge takes her to Charlie Manx. She's able to escape from Manx, but that encounter leaves a permanent impression on both their lives. Both are unable to ever forget the other and their paths are destined to cross again.
NOS4A2 is the fourth in an increasingly-impressive bibliography by Joe Hill. It's a long book, but still a very fast read and I found myself taking extra-long lunch breaks while reading it because it was so hard to put down at times. His writing style is similar to that of his father's; his characters are fully fleshed out and Hill does an excellent job of getting you inside their heads. The Wraith is a little reminiscent of Christine and one of Manx's henchmen reminded me of the Trashcan Man from The Stand but those along with a few other apparent nods to his father were kind of like finding an Easter egg on a DVD.
One final thing, if you read the book, read every last page, seriously, even the ones many close the book without reading. There's a little post-credits scene snuck in there.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆