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'NOS4A2' starts slow but is a wild ride

Aug. 29, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

You have to read it all, every last page! You'll understand just what I mean if you do read it all! Author Joe Hill even tells you to do that, read it all, on the last page of his 'Acknowledgement' at the almost end of his book.

Weighing in at 692 pages, "NOS4A2" is a brick to say the least. Take it from me, you just might get tired of reading it. Believe me, I know, I almost gave up twice before I finished the book. About half way through the book I got into it finally and finished the book as quickly as I could.

Don't quit! The last half of the book is well worth the slowness of the first half. When the action speeds up, when the Triumph motorcycle comes roaring out of the lakeside carriage house, you are in for a wild ride with a wild woman.

The author of "NOS4A2" is Joe Hill. That's his pen name. His real name is Joseph Hillstrom King. Does that name ring any bells with you all? Some of you, in fact most of you, have probably heard of Joe's parents, Tabitha and Stephen King. That's right. Stephen King is Joe's father (and Stephen is one who's used a non de plum himself, Richard Bachman). His mother Tabitha is certainly no slouch as a writer herself.

"NOS4A2" is Joe Hill's third novel following "Heart-Shaped Box" (there's a ghost in the heart-shaped box) and "Horns" (the story of a man who wakes up once day with horns growing out of his skull).

Hill is also the author of a collection of short stories, "20th Century Ghosts." He used the alias early on in his writing career because he wanted people to appreciate his writing, not because he was this one of one of the most famous, most prolific writers of all time.

The wild woman I referred to above is one Victoria 'Vic' McQueen. As a young child she had a real gift for finding lost things. When Vic rides her Raleigh Tuff Burner bicycle across an oft reappearing covered bridge, she is immediately transported through time and space to the exact location where the lost thing, a bracelet, a teddy bear, can be found.

As a child, Vic has an encounter with one Charles Talent Manx, a man who picks up children in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the license plate 'NOS4A2' (A nod to a couple of vampire movies 'Nosferatu the Vampyre" {1979} and an older silent film, the black and white movie 'Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night' {1922}. You've all seen, I'm sure, the still from 'Phantom' of the hairless vampire with the very crooked teeth from the 1922 movie.).

Just as Vic uses her bicycle to cross through both time and space, so does Manx use his Rolls to take the kidnapped children to the terrible, horrifying 'Christmasland'.

I'll not say any more about that scary place inhabited by all those kidnapped children except to tell you that Vic is the only child to ever escape from Manx' clutches. As an adult, Vic has another run in with Manx, who attempts to kidnap her son, 12-year-old Bruce Wayne Carmody, and take him to Christmasland. It's up to Vic to ride to Wayne's rescue, this time on board a Triumph motorcycle, and to cross the covered bridge one more time, to save her son.

Vic McQueen is a combination Sarah Conner (from the 'Terminator' movies) and Ellen Ripley (from the 'Alien' movie franchise). You just don't mess with Vic or her son.

I enjoyed the novel very much, once I got into it. Don't be put off if it takes you a while to get into it. The book is a well-written horror novel worthy of the son of Stephen King. You can actually see flashes of King's brilliance in his son's book. However, be aware of the strong language in the book. If you enjoy King's horror novels, if you enjoy plenty of suspense, then "NOS4A2" is the book for you.

Bill Patton is a regular contributor to this book review column. He reminds everyone that you too can be a contributor by submitting your 400-500 words books review to sarah.dougherty@cabell.lib.wv.us.