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|Publisher||William Morrow and Company|
Published in English
|April 30, 2013|
|Publisher||William Morrow and Company|
Published in English
|April 30, 2013|
NOS4A2 (pronounced Nosferatu) is a 2013 novel by American author Joe Hill and is his third novel. The book was published on April 30, 2013 through William Morrow and Company and focuses on a woman trying to save her son from a vicious killer who has set his sights on him. The novel is called NOS4R2 in the United Kingdom.
A limited edition version of the book was released through Subterranean Press, featuring the novella Wraith that was cut from the manuscript as well an alternate ending. A comic book tie-in miniseries from IDW Publishing entitled Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland was announced. The miniseries will take place in Christmasland and features characters from the novel.
The book takes place over several time periods, with the book opening in a hospital in 2008. Charles Talent Manx, known for abducting children with his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith, briefly wakes out of a coma in order to threaten a nurse that was caring for him. Her coworkers don't believe her claims, saying that he was incapable of waking or talking.
The book then shifts to 1986, where Victoria "Vic" McQueen discovers that she can find things by riding her Raleigh Tuff Burner bicycle through a bridge called the "Shorter Way Bridge", previously thought to have been destroyed. Once on the other side, she is always where she needs to be to find whatever it is that she was looking for. The process takes a large toll on Vic mentally and physically, especially as she has to lie about how she finds things. She eventually travels to an Iowa library where she meets Maggie, a librarian that can use Scrabble tiles to find out where to look for missing items or information. The process also takes a large toll on her, causing a severe stutter. She warns Vic against Manx, whom she can only refer to as "the Wraith" due to her being unable to divine his given name. Vic then begins to travel home, but loses her bike in the process and develops a terrible fever. During this time Manx enlists chemical plant worker Bing in order to gain access to a gingerbread-flavored sevoflurane that the factory produces. Believing that Manx is taking the children to a place called "Christmasland" where nothing bad happens, Bing willingly goes along with Manx's plans and uses the sevoflurane to capture children.
Years pass and Vic once again uses the Shorter Way after she has a fight with her mother. She tries to call her demolitionist father to stay with him, but is rebuffed. In retaliation Vic uses the bridge to travel to Manx's house, thinking that her abduction would hurt her mother. Once there she begins to experience inexplicable events such as seeing a child with rows of sharp brown teeth and cold air coming from his nose despite it not being cold enough. Vic barely manages to get away from Manx, especially after his house catches on fire. In her hurry to escape she runs into Louis "Lou" Carmody, who takes her to a gas station to call the police. While the police are being called Manx drives up to fill the gas tank and is captured, but only after he sets fire to a man trying to capture him.
Years pass and Vic begins a relationship with Lou and becomes pregnant with a son, Wayne. Unhappy and still scarred over her experiences with Manx, she begins painting motorcycles and later develops a successful series of children's books as a way of dealing with the memories. During this time she's also tormented by phone calls from unknown children who verbally torment her for getting Manx arrested. Her relationship with Lou suffers and ends as a result, with the two remaining relatively amicable. She eventually goes clean, but is confronted with the reality that Manx is still out there when Maggie appears on her doorstep. Unwilling to believe that he still exists, she sends Maggie away and accuses her of lying.
Meanwhile Manx has escaped, reunited with Bing, and has killed Vic's neighbors, taking residence in their house. The two bide their time as Vic and Wayne fix up an old motorcycle they discovered. It's only when Vic takes the bike out for a test drive (during which time she once again encounters the Shorter Way) that the two move in and kidnap Wayne, beating Vic fairly severely in the process. Wayne manages to call Lou, telling him that Manx has captured him. Vic calls the police to report Wayne's abduction, giving them an altered version of events that doesn't include her seeing the bridge. Her story isn't believed because Manx died within the hospital and was autopsied. FBI psychologist Tabitha Hutter is brought on to the case but still doesn't quite believe Vic, not even after a traced iPhone call from Wayne shows that he is traveling in between the worlds.
Vic decides to go after Manx and Wayne using the Shorter Way. She first goes to the "House of Sleep" in the hopes of getting her son back, only to find that it is Bing's house. He attacks Vic but she manages to kill him in self-defense. After reporting back to Lou (who then has chest pains due to undetected carotid stenosis) about her intent to further pursue Manx, Vic takes the Shorter Way to Maggie's library where the two women search for answers using Maggie's Scrabble tiles. Vic discovers that the way to destroy Manx is to destroy his Wraith, but Maggie is killed when Manx arrives at the library while Vic is sleeping. Narrowly missing capture by local police, Vic leaves to go to her father's house in search of some ANFO to destroy the Wraith. She successfully gains the explosives, meets back up with Lou, and emotionally reconnects with her father. Vic and Lou are forced to flee after Tabitha and the police show up, believing that Vic was responsible for the deaths of both Bing and Maggie. They end up outside of Manx's home, where she leaves Lou behind before setting out to Christmasland. There she's threatened by Manx's children after she reveals that she brought explosive with her. Vic fails to destroy the Wraith using the explosives, only to then see the car and Manx die in the Shorter Way bridge as it collapses in on itself.
The book then cuts forward to October, where it is revealed that Vic died shortly after she and Wayne returned to reality, having escaped Christmasland and Manx. Lou has lost a lot of weight and has begun seeing Tabitha. However Wayne still has nightmares where he sees the remnants of Christmasland and its inhabitants, where he is one of them and participates in gruesome games. During his waking hours he finds that he's still losing his humanity and that his transformation into one of Manx's creatures is still ongoing. Realizing that the now-dead Manx is still influencing his child, Lou takes Tabitha and Wayne out to the remains of Manx's home and smashes various ornaments that are hanging around the property. As the ornaments are destroyed various children that Manx had kidnapped and transformed appear, completely human. Lou smashes the ornament that stood for Wayne, reversing the transformation.
In the epilogue, Manx's "True Children" (including his biological daughter Millie) manage to keep their ornaments and escape from Christmasland in their demonic state.
Critical reception has been mostly positive, with the Library Journal praising NOS4A2 as "fascinating and utterly engaging". USA Today also gave a positive review and commented that the book "[reimagined] the vampire epic". The AVClub, Library Journal and Time magazine also named NOS4A2 as one of the ten best books of 2013.  
The novel includes several references to Joe Hill's other works, possibly indicating they belong to the same shared world. Charles Manx, discussing the concept of "inscapes" and secret places, refers to the Treehouse of the Mind (from Horns) and Craddock McDermott (from Heart-Shaped Box). Later in the novel, the FBI tries to use a cell phone map to track Wayne's iPhone, the map reveals Lovecraft, MA from Locke & Key. According to Hill, the novel also includes references to two novels, Orphanhenge and The Crooked Alley, that he may write in the future.
Hill also included several references to the works of his father, Stephen King, in NOS4A2. Manx refers to the gates to Mid-World and Shawshank Prison, as well as stating that the True Knot follow nearly the same profession as he does. The phone map also shows Derry, Maine and a place called "Pennywise's Circus." Towards the end of the novel when Vic is returning from Christmasland, Hill writes that she 'returns to the clearing at the end of the path', a reference to the Dark Tower books. In an interview, Hill says that these references were not meant to tie his works to King's shared world. He claims he was "just fooling around."
Supporting character The Gas Mask Man speaks the line, "My life for you," in a desperate show of devotion to Manx, a clear reference to the same line spoken by the Trashcan Man to Randall Flagg of King's "The Stand." Similarities between the two characters include their blind devotion to their respective masters as well as their limited mental faculties and mannerisms.