Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #58: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

I may be in the minority here, but I didn’t like this novel as much as Joe Hill’s previous novels. I think part of it is that I didn’t read the description of the novel too closely, and basically ordered it because it was by Joe Hill, and I assumed that it would be about vampires based on the title. I was excited to see Hill’s take on vampires, especially given his father’s treatment of them in Salem’s Lot. However, while the character referred to in the title certainly has vampiric qualities, sapping life energy from others to remain alive, it isn’t a straight up vampire story as I expected. Additionally, I like Stephen King a lot, but one thing I’ve enjoyed about Joe Hill is that even though he works in the same genre as his father, his voice is very different and distinct. This novel reminded me more of his father than any of his previous works, which isn’t a bad thing, but it felt odd.
The novel begins with a creepy prologue, introducing the now comatose Charles Talent Manx, the novel’s villain. Of course, this is a horror story, so the reader immediately knows that there is no way this man will stay incapacitated. From here, the story flashes back in time to its protagonist, Victoria, or the Brat. After their return from a family holiday, 8 year old Victoria’s parents begin to fight about a lost bracelet, and Victoria wants to end their fight. She runs off with her trusty bicycle, and discovers that she can make a bridge with her mind that will take her to the things she is looking for. She doesn’t mention it to anyone, and makes up cover stories for how she found the lost items, which she even believes herself though she knows the truth deep down. As she gets older, she has questions about this ability, and the bike leads her to a person with answers. Victoria is not the only one with this type of skill, though in manifests differently in everyone, the one common factor being that all of the people have talismans, such as Victoria’s bike. However, the use of these skills takes a toll, exhibiting as illnesses and eye issues in the case of Victoria. During this conversation, she also learns of Charles Talent Manx, a man that has been using this ability to keep himself alive and kidnapping children in the process.

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