Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.
Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”
Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.
It took me forever to figure out what this title’s license plate meant–in fact, it wasn’t until it was mentioned BY THE CHARACTER that I finally *got* it–I’ve been calling it a lot of other names including ‘That license plate book by Joe Hill’ or ‘N084263′ (I have no idea where that came from, but I used it multiple times).
Joe Hill’s books have always impressed me, and haunted me, too. Loved Heart-Shaped Box and 20-th Century Ghosts and still remember them years later. In fact, I recommend Joe Hill to horror fans, as well as people who want something contemporary and fresh. But, I guess with his literary pedigree, I should not really be surprised.
Stephen King’s mark is all over this book–we have the following:
Possessed car (Christine)
Special Children fighting against the sharp-toothed ancient people (The Shining, Doctor Sleep)–not to mention the blatant mention of ‘The True Knot’ in the book!
Derry, Maine (and Pennywise) are also mentioned, as well as a child being saved by a bike (Thank you, It!)
While it’s a great, thick book, part of me was left wondering about the future of the King/Hill writing team. As much as I loved this book, I felt a little bit like I was almost cheated. Sure, Hill is an amazing writer and he’s got a different last name to differentiate him from the shadow of his famous father and mother. While I loved the direction he went (especially since I devoured the Shining and Doctor Sleep a few months ago), I felt like he didn’t really create the worlds, he was just borrowing them.
The language is Hill, but the elements of King are all around, especially to the critical (and possibly even non-critical) reader. For that, I feel a bit divided. The story is wonderful, the characters pop off the page and I really understand these characters. I am invested in these characters. I want all of these characters to make it.
Another really amazing thing in this book is the imagery. I kept thinking about this book in that way. Did a hung up air raid mask bring up that character? Did a dilapidated bridge bring across this idea? The imagination needed to bring up this type of book is enviable. The completeness of the book and it’s associated storylines was superb. I felt like nothing in this book needed to be changed once it was written down on the page.
I was saddened, however, to find the print version had some illustrations that the ereader version did not. I would, however, recommend this book and think that horror fans, or just plain fans of reading, would LOVE to read this thrilling and dark novel that captures childhood beliefs and adult considerations.
I am very impressed, however, that we finally figured out the ‘they all float’ reference in Stephen King’s IT. The graveyard with the floating children was HAUNTING.