Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.
Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”
Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.
I read this novel as my BookBum Club book for January! Check out this page to find out more about my very own Book Club!
A darkly disturbing thrill ride of a book! I was expecting it to spook me out a little more than it did, but it was super enjoyable even still.
I’ve never read a Joe Hill book before this one, but now I know I want to read more of his work. I don’t think there’s any denying that his writing style really sucks you into the story and he’s a genius as describing things. How can one man come up with so many different Christmas similes? I also loved how this book was set up, where sometimes the end of sentence in a paragraph wouldn’t end because the title of the next paragraph completed the sentence. I thought this was a really unique aspect of the novel, as well as several illustrations dotted throughout.
One thing I really loved about this novel was the characters. I’ve seen some less that glowing reviews whinging about Vic, and while I can understand some people’s frustration at how frustrating she was, I think the whole point of her character to be frustrating. I personally found her troubled but sweet. Lou was equally sweet, a nice human being through-and-through, but at the end of the day, I don’t think he brought an awful lot to the story.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, of course, was Charlie Manx. What a genuinely terrifying character. I’ve read through several books with horrifying characters (Annie Wilkes springs to mind immediately) and Charlie Manx is definitely up there with the worst of them. What made him so chilling, for me, was how I imagined his voice. Every sentence of his speech was lifted at the end by an exclamation mark! He was always so cheery! Always so sinister! And then, of course, we have Bing Partridge who may just be the most repulsive character I’ve ever read about.
I loved the story of this novel, but I’m not going to explain what happened because this novel needs to be experienced, not told, in order to reach its full potential. My only issue was I though maybe 700 pages was a bit long. Chapter after chapter was a new dip and dive in this roller-coaster of a story, but sometimes it just felt like stalling time.
Another thing that disappointed me about this book, and this is what brought it down to 4 stars, is that I was expecting this to be scarier than it turned out to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s seriously sinister and has some really creepy moments, but I wanted to get to “I can’t sleep” scared. Though saying that, when I was driving home in the dark one day, an old classic black British car (we have a lot of old car conventions around where I live) pulled up behind me and followed me nearly all the way home and I did get the heebie-geebies (don’t worry, I didn’t break the speed limit though).
Overall, this novel is well worth the read if you’re into dark, sinister novels filled with the really weird and the really wonderful. I’m so happy I’ve finally read this novel and have been opened up to the world of Joe Hill’s writing. I will definitely be reading more of his stuff.