When Joe Hill’s N0S4A2 was first published back in the spring of 2013, I snapped it up and read it immediately. I loved the supernatural thriller so much that I wanted to do a book review, but I simply didn’t have the time to write one. Now the novel has been adapted into a TV series for AMC and will premiere on June 2nd, so I think it’s a good time to revisit the story.
Joseph Hillstrom King managed to have a writing career
for ten years before people found out he was Stephen’s son. I think his style
encompasses all the good characteristics of his father’s writing, without the
tics and flaws that Stephen’s critics love to pounce on. In particular, Joe has
a leaner writing style that doesn’t hinder his skill at creating complex,
N0S4A2 is his third novel, and, at around 700 pages, it’s longer than the books I usually prefer to read. But I quickly devoured it.
The story spans decades and interweaves the lives of a
psychic vampire, a female “slayer,” and an innocent boy who ends up being
caught in the middle of their struggle. After a brief scene set in 2008, where
the villain of the tale wakes from a coma, it flashes back to 1986, detailing
the dysfunctional childhood of Victoria McQueen. The young girl has
mysteriously been blessed with the ability to find objects and people by riding
her bike through the Shorter Way Bridge. The covered bridge leads her to the
location of whoever or whatever she is looking for. However, using this gift
takes a mental and physical toll on Vic.
On one of these trips, Vic finds a new friend named
Maggie, a librarian who has the gift of divination. Maggie warns her about an
evil man she calls “The Wraith” – a nickname derived from the Rolls Royce she
always sees him driving. His real name is Charlie Manx, and he kidnaps children
to drain their life force, using his unique car to escape into a different
world. His dimwitted accomplice, Bing, believes he is taking the children to a
place called Christmasland, where they can live happily ever after. But their
true fate is more than grim…once Manx is finished with them, they become
soulless, ageless vampires who exist to do his bidding.
Seventeen-year-old Vic survives a harrowing encounter
with Manx that puts him in a coma. She goes on with her life, thinking that her
special childhood ability was simply a delusion. Vic writes a successful series
of children’s books and indulges her passion for motorcycles by restoring them.
She ends up getting married to biker Lou Carmody and they have a son together.
And then one day Charlie Manx finds a way to return – and
shows up on her doorstep looking for revenge.
One wouldn’t think there would be much room for humor in
a story like this, but Joe blends it in with the suspenseful horror and fantasy
elements pretty flawlessly. I almost never think a book or a movie is worthy of
five stars, but in my humble opinion, this novel is a fine example of masterful
I can’t wait to see it brought to life on the small