Victoria McQueen was born with a special gift; whenever she’s riding her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, a bridge will appear can transport her wherever she needs to go. Once there, she can find things that are lost. It starts out innocently enough, with Vic looking for things to keep her parents from fighting, but the temptation to do more with her trick is always there.
Meanwhile, Charles Talent Manx is out on the prowl for children. He has a special vehicle of his own, a Rolls Royce Wraith, which he uses to transport children to Christmasland, a ghoulish twilight zone of yuletide cheer where soulless children revere Manx unconditionally. Hundreds of children (and sometimes their parents) have mysteriously disappeared over the years, and when Vic figures out that she might be able to find them, she goes looking for trouble. She ends up barely escaping from Manx’s Sleigh House, the only child to ever have done so. In the process of her escape and subsequent rescue, Manx is caught and imprisoned for life, assumed to be a pedophile and serial killer.
Now Vic is an adult, and Manx has never stopped thinking about her. But rather than come for her when the opportunity arises, he decides to come for her son, Bruce. Meanwhile, Vic is convinced that she’s always been mentally ill; once would have to be schizophrenic to actually believe that magic bridges and places like Christmasland exist. Unless she can find a way to trust her instincts and her sanity, her son’s life is on the line.
I’ve had this book for a while, but I ultimately decided to listen to the audiobook version narrated by Kate Mulgrew. Her narration and characterizations are excellent; I just wish I could say the same about the plot and the characters themselves. I also was expecting more of a Christmasy horror story; instead, NOS4A2 is more of a crime thriller with supernatural and vampiric elements.
One character in particular, Manx’s idiot assistant, got on my last nerve. He often spoke in puns and whiny singsong — some of it rapey and gross — and after a while, it took all of my power not to just fast-forward through his parts.
NOS4A2 has been pretty well-received since it came out a few years, and I suppose I can see why if you’re into that sort of thing. The book has its moments, but I mostly just ended up being annoyed and underwhelmed. I am definitely not into crime thrillers, though, so I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably not the target audience.
NOS4A2 was released in 2013 by William Morrow, and imprint of HarperCollins.