By Elle Turpitt
Every time I read something by Joe Hill, I’m kind of struck by his talent as a horror writer. This is the fourth novel of Hill’s I’ve read, and the one to me that comes closest to his father’s work. NOS4R2 (NOS4A2 in the US) feels, in some places, very much like a Stephen King novel, but it travels different roads, concentrating on different elements. Noted, there are also references to well-known Stephen King works in here too, but it adds to the story. It makes it feel like Roland and his ka-tet could wander onto the scene at any moment to help our heroine defeat the Wraith.
Of course, there is no appearance by Roland, but nothing lacks because of it. The characters in the novel feel completely and utterly real. Vic is surrounded by male figures dominating her life. She grows up with a semi-abusive father, who she utterly loves, escapes from a traumatic encounter into the arms of Lou, and later has a son. Trying to raise him, Vic has to try and reconcile her ideas of what she thinks is real with what she knows is real. Hill really builds up the creepy, eerie feeling of the situation. Never quite sure how things are going to unfold, allowing us to see more than Vic. Yet still, we remain in the dark to feel completely helpless as she moves through the novel, while the shadow of Charlie Manx looms over her. The suspense is high, and Manx, as a villain, is so terrifying because he feels real. He’s one of those villains that does monstrous things, while convinced he is doing the right thing.
NOS4R2 is an eerie novel that carries you right through as if you were racing along on a Raleigh bike, leaving you tense even after completion. It might even make you freak out the next time you hear Christmas songs out of season.