Author: Joe Hill
Published: Out Now
RRP: Print £18.99 – Kindle £9.49
No matter what Joe Hill does he’ll always be compared to his father, and those comparisons in NOS4R2 are there for all to see, highlighted by big neon signs with arrows pointing to them. But this is not a bad thing, I’ve been a Stephen King fan for a lot of years (OK we did fall out over that ending to The Dark Tower but that’s in the past now), and to date I’ve read and enjoyed all of Joe’s work because of the comparisons to his dad. That’s not to say you’re getting a clone of something that has been done before, Joe’s work is unique, the stories original, but they all have that magical “King” ingredient.
With NOS4R2 I feel Joe Hill has found his stride, whilst Heart Shaped Box and Horns were great stories with fantastic characters, here you have a story with a grand vista, a rich history and characters that will be with you long after you put the book down. Also there are seeds sown, subtle single line seeds that begin the process of joining the worlds Joe has so far created together in their own multiverse. This is the most striking comparison to what his father has already so brilliantly done, and it’s left me wondering if – maybe – in Charlie Talent Manx III Joe has found his Randall Flagg?
In Charlie – and his associate Bing Partridge, aka the Gasmask Man – Joe has created dark twisted characters to rival any that have gone before. Both have no redeeming qualities, they are totally rotten to the core and no act, no depravity, is beyond them. And the depravities they relish are there for all to see, in glorious technicolour. Manx is old, over a hundred years old, he drives around the country in his vintage 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith – with the vanity plate of NOS4R2 – taking children and transporting them to his own personal wonderland, called Christmasland, where they never grow old and slowly lose their humanity.
To counterpoint the bad we have the good, in the shape of Victoria McQueen, child of a broken home, with a gift that enables her to travel across The Shorter Way Bridge – a bridge that was destroyed years before – to find that which is lost, objects, people and ultimately someone else who shares her gift. But a gift can be a curse, especially when she asks the Bridge to take her to find a person no-one else has been able to find, someone no other sane person would not want to find.
Vic McQueen became famous at an early age, she was the only child to escape the clutches of Charlie Manx. But that escape was only the start, a quarter decade later Vic must again face the horror, must again travel the United Inscape of America, and visit Christmasland to try to finally end the horror that is Charles Talent Manx III.