It is October. The month in which we all tend to indulge in things that give us the hibbie-jibbies. Or possibly soil our undies. Dark things. Disturbing things. Scary things. Things more scarier than Kanye West’s ego, the Kardashian’s fame or the wanks in Washington. Aye, it is the month where Syfy, AMC and tons of other networks on the telly go into overdrive with their horror marathon. And so I shall take a cue. Pleasantries out of the way … and .. here .. we … GO.
Victoria McQueen (aka the Brat) is a precocious young woman with a crappy upbringing and a really cool Raleigh BMX bike which she loves to ride. This, however, is not just some ordinary bike and Victoria McQueen is not your ordinary tomboy. Some days, the BMX bike acts like a knife that cuts the fabric of reality allowing Victoria to cross over into another world by a portal in the form of a covered bridge (aka the Shorter Way Bridge). In this world, Victoria can find whatever she’s looking for from a lost mother’s bracelet to … trouble. Which brings me to Charlie Manx. Like Victoria, Mr. Manx is also very special but to a terrifying degree. Adding to the creepy factor is the fact that he drives around, with the aid of some Igor types (in this case, Bing Partridge … sexually depraved manchild and tosser), in his 1930s Cadillac Wraith that only plays Christmas songs. Aye, it could be worse … think Ke$ha, Mylie Cyrus, or Rihanna. Like the BMX, the Wraith is Manx’s reality fabric cutter that takes him and unwitting children to Christmasland where everything is anything but jolly. On a fateful crossing of the Shorter Way Bridge, Victoria is hurtled in the future, encounters Manx and … survives. The good news is that this is just the beginning of things to come. It is also safe to say that is also the bad news. Hill takes us on what could be easily summed up as a terrifying (literary) joyride … at night … with a psycho … who’s driving with one hand on the wheel … and other holding a semi-loaded gun, playing a game of Russian roulette … pointed at you in the passenger seat. Bloody hell … you say? You’ve got that right.
Charlie Manx is the sort of bloke that would make even your local boogeyman piss himself senseless before he hands in his retirement papers. And yes, would most likely have most of us checking out the closets and basements before turning out the lights and entering a nightmare-marinated sleep. Hill’s NOS4A2 is like a careening, bloody car chase down a dark highway and every page just prods you into turning the next (sleep and bodily functions be damned) page. Most definitely not to be read on a full moon night (trust me on this, you’ll see what I’m talking about), or if you live next to creepy neighbours that wear WWII gas masks. A warning to ALL readers: try not to get too attached to some characters. There … and that’s all I’m going to say about that. As a good, blood-curdling, bump-in-the-night, blood-splattering read, NOS4A2 does not disappoint. Yes, quite the understatement. And Mr. Hill has found a coveted spot in my mental “library”.