NOS4R2 – not your ordinary title for not your ordinary novel. It's a name which seems to fit the material perfectly: playful, textspeak-contemporary with a dark sense of humour; referential but reinvented with one foot in the past and another in the now, nodding at the classic vampire myth but assuring you: This. Isn't. That.
Our “vamp” is Charles Talent Manx III, a rankly saccharine relic with a toothpick smile, who kidnaps children in his bewitched Rolls Royce Wraith (numberplate: NOS-4R2) and takes them to the candy-cane netherworld he calls Christmasland. Our heroine is brittle-as-ice Vic McQueen, an almost-victim of Manx who has her own mythical mode of transport.
Joe Hill’s third novel is his most ambitious yet, a complex and sprawling fantasy horror that plays with time and structure, language and genre without losing the emotional core which anchored his previous work. If his chilling ghost story Heart-Shaped Box was broadly linear and his heart-tugging Horns was roughly circular then NOS4R2 is a pyramid of whorls, taking two steps forward and one step back, slowly drawing together a melee of characters and sweeping them steadily and purposefully towards a pinnacle.
If it's reminiscent of the author’s father, Stephen King, it's less Christine and more wide-reaching works like IT that it channels (and references) - though Hill's own style is distinct. A thrilling journey, which should cement Hill as one of the most exciting drivers of horror fiction today.
Rosie Fletcher twitter.com/TotalFilm_Rosie
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