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First Posted: 6/13/2013

Somewhere there are children writing lists to Santa Claus, making snow angels, and dreaming of sugarplums. In a place like Christmasland, where it is said to be Christmas everyday, you might think children would be lucky to go there. But, Joe Hill’s latest novel, “N0S4A2,” proves that you are dead wrong.

When readers first meet unlikely heroine and protagonist Victoria McQueen, she is only 8-years-old. However, the novel works through decades, meanwhile traversing throughout the United States. Vic, as most call her, is introduced as a young girl with a knack for bicycle riding and rebellion. This leads her across a haunting bridge into a world of magic.

There, Vic meets pivotal character, Charles Talent Manx, who transports children (and some select adults) to a place called Christmasland. In Christmasland, every story of sadness fades as each child is given the ability to remain young and carefree forever in a dream all their own. At least, that is what they are led to believe.

Instead of riding a sleigh, Charles drives a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith — license plate: N0S4A2. At first, it might seem like a standard plate but, together, the letters and numbers predict impending doom: Nosferatu. Bing Partridge, who comes to Charles’ aide, becomes a match made in (unspeakable horror) heaven.

“Around fifty-eight thousand nonfamily child abductions occur each year in America, and in the early nineties the disappearances of Marta Gregorski, Rory McCombers, Amy Martin, Jake Christensen Charlene Conlon, and the adults who had vanished with them — with few witnesses, in different states, under various conditions — were not connected until much later. Not until well after what happened to Vic McQueen at the hands of Charles Talent Manx III.”

In this gruesomely descriptive work, readers watch Vic grow up into a woman with vengeance for Christmasland and those she was able to escape, but never forget. With the help of new and old characters alike, Vic is able to build an unstoppable team with hope of settling the score.

Aside from Hill’s suspenseful writing, readers are also offered various illustrations from Gabriel Rodriguez. For any serious bibliophile, once examined, each depiction serves as an allusion for things to come.

Whereas some writers have used familial connections to propel themselves into the world of publishing, regardless of talent, Joe Hill has built a solid foundation without the help of his illustrious father, Stephen King. Hill’s literary genetics may lend itself to his writing, but there is no doubt the talent he encompasses is all his own. As demonstrated by this mesmerizing and grisly tale, Hill continues to move closer towards becoming a master of horror.

‘N0S4A2’ By Joe Hill Rating: W W W W V