Literature: NOS4A2

NOS4A2 is a horror novel by Joe Hill.

Charlie Manx has built a wonderful place just for children, where it's Christmas every day. Kids get to have the greatest fun in Christmasland, riding the Sleighcoaster, feasting from La Chocolatier, or playing scissors-for-the-drifter. And the fun never ends in Christmasland, where these wonderful children get to stay children — forever.

At 116 years old, Charles Talent Manx has spent decades kidnapping children to Christmasland, a place built by his imagination in a world that exists somewhere alongside ours. By the time they arrive, they've been... changed. Victoria McQueen also knows how to travel to places that aren't quite there, using her Raleigh Tuff Burner bicycle to travel and find things that have been lost. At seventeen, she had a close encounter with Manx and was the first person to escape his grasp. Manx was sent to prison, and Vic was left to cope with a psyche deeply scarred by her encounter. Thirteen years later, Manx escapes and takes his revenge on Vic by "rescuing" her son and bringing him to Christmasland. With her unusual ability to find things, Vic may be the only one who has a chance at saving him.

A comic sequel/prequel, titled Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland and illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III, has been released.

NOS4A2 contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: The abduction of one's child.
  • Affably Evil: Manx is quite charming.
  • Animal Motifs: Manx is said on multiple occasions to have a face and head that bears more than a passing resemblance to a weasel's.
  • Anyone Can Die: There is a significant body count among the main characters.
  • Badass Gay: Maggie Leigh.
  • Bald of Evil: Charlie Manx, although his hair grows back as he regains his youth.
  • Bi the Way: Vic, though she prefers men.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Manx's children have them.
  • Brick Joke: Vic's father tells her in 1986 that the rickety Shorter Way Bridge has finally collapsed after some idiot tried to drive his car over it. At the end of the book, Manx and his car become displaced in time and crash through the bridge.
  • Canon Welding: In addition to the Shout-Outs to his father's work, Hill also refers to the Treehouse of the Mind from Horns and Craddock McDermott from Heart-Shaped Box.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The bats in the Shorter Way Bridge. Not to mention the gun-shaped paperweight labeled "Property of A. Chekhov." Although the latter doesn't count technically - it doesn't get fired (but used).
  • Children Are Innocent: Deconstructed.
    Joe Hill: The kids live in an eternal state of innocence, and it ainít all itís cracked up to be. Innocent children like to rip the wings off a butterfly just to watch it flop around, and they will laugh ícause they donít know any better. Innocence is ignorance. [1]
  • Crapsaccharine World: Christmasland.
  • Creepy Child: Manx's children.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Bing, who, in addition to the number of women he drugged and raped, also drugged and raped the unfortunate man who owned the Wraith after Manx and who was forcibly brought along on a ride to Manx's inscape.
  • The Dragon: Bing.
  • Ear Ache: Part of Charlie's ear is shot off.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The "A Note on the Type" section reveals that some of Manx's children haven't been 'fixed' and are still at large.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Manx is offended at the accusation that he molested or physically harmed the children that he takes to Christmasland. His attempt to kill Wayne near the end of the book suggests that he has finally grown desperate enough to violate his own moral code.
  • Expanded Universe: Joe Hill is writing a comic tie-in series called "Wraith".
  • Expy: Bing, "The Gasmask Man" is this to "The Trashcan Man" from The Stand. At one point he even says, "My life for you!"
  • Friend to All Children: Manx considers himself this.
  • Kick the Dog: Manx kills Wayne's dog with his bone mallet.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Manx and Bing believe that they are 'rescuing' children from this.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A slight variation. Vic initially survives rescuing Wayne and destroying Christmasland, but dies from her injuries in hospital later that night.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bing is killed via his own gas tank exploding. Manx is crushed in his own car and dies with a mouth full of motor oil.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Effectively Christmasland is this for Charlie Manx.
  • Lack of Empathy: Manx and the children of Christmasland.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Subterranean Press released a limited edition that includes illustrations by Gabriel Rodriguez (Locke & Key), an alternate ending, a novella that was cut from the novel and — if you got the lettered edition — a replica of Charlie Manx's autopsy bone mallet.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Manx has some resemblances to Max Shreck.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: All of the paranormal events in the book work this way.
    • Vic McQueen has a bike that let's her instantly travel great distances and find things that have been lost.
    • Maggie Leigh has a bag of Scrabble tiles that can spell out important secrets to her.
    • Charlie Manx has a Rolls Royce Wraith that can travel to Christmasland. It also keeps him young . . . and consumes his (and later others') soul.
  • Market-Based Title: A small example; the UK version of the book is retitled NOS4R2 to better fit the British pronunciation of "Nosferatu".
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Maggie Leigh.
  • Meaningful Name: Possibly the Shorter Bridge, which surely isn't named that way in-universe because it shortens the ways for Vic.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The children of Christmasland have two rows of sharp teeth.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Vic goes from living in near-poverty with her boyfriend and son to making a successful career for herself once she comes up with the idea for a series of children's books.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: All of the protagonists have serious, human flaws— which they all acknowledge. A central theme of the book is that demanding perfection from reality is immature and ultimately as unhealthy as any other vice.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Although his license plate is NOS4A2 Manx is not a traditional vampire. Instead, he maintains his youth by his car draining the souls of children as he kidnaps them to a semi-imaginary realm. In the process, though, the children become something much more resembling traditional vampires.
  • Parents as People: At the beginning of the book, Vic idolizes her father and considers her mother a repressive shrew. She later learns that, while her mother might have been hard to live with, her father was sleeping around and occasionally hit her mother when he was drunk. After he abandons his wife and daughter, Vic spends years hating him, but they do manage to reconcile before they both die saving Wayne.
  • Police Are Useless: Quite. And justified, considering Manx is not one who can easily be dealt with.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Both Manx and Bing are misogynists, though in Manx's case it doesn't apply to young girls.
  • Power at a Price: Using the Inscape ultimately drains its user over an extended period of time and comes with some sort of detrimental effect, either physical or mental.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Bing.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: When Bing goes back to his old church (now a condemned ruin) to pray for Manx's safe return, God seemingly rebuffs this blasphemous prayer by sending him a Humiliation Conga — first a bird shits on his face, then he trips and lands on a used condom that gets stuck on his hand, then in his hair. His response is to throw a tantrum in the middle of the church, then leave and come back with bottles of lighter fluid to burn the place down; he ignites the blaze by setting the crucifix on fire.
    "What?" he screamed to the church. "What? I came here on my knees! I CAME ON MY KNEES! And you do what? WHAT?!"
  • The Renfield: Bing.
  • Questionable Consent: Bing uses his "gingerbread smoke" (sevoflurane) on the mothers of the kidnapped children for this.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Bing murdered both his parents.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A demonic, semi-autonomous, murderous car? Sounds familiar.
    • The map of the United Inscapes of America includes the Pennywise Circus, Treehouse of the Mind, and the Lovecraft Keyhole.
    • After Wayne is taken, a cop mentions sending a Buddhist monk away to Shawshank.
    • A slightly ironic one. Bing complains about Wayne's name (his father is a comic fan, and named his son Bruce Wayne Carmody), saying that people shouldn't use silly comic book names, but normal names like John and Sue. If you use "Johnny" instead of "John", you get two very famous comic book characters - from the same title, no less.
    • Tabitha Hutter may be a reference to the character Hutter (the Johnathan Harker stand-in) from the 1922 film Nosferatu.
    • Bing Partridge lives on a street named Bloch.
    • Charlie Manx mentions the True Knot, and how they are in similar lines of work. The True and Manx have apparently mutually chosen to leave each other alone.
    • Mister de Zoet is mentioned as listening to the Cloud Atlas Sextet, even mentioning Robert Frobisher by name.
    • Probably one: The unfortunate Demeter family. (Of course you must know which ship brought Dracula to England...)
  • Speech Impediment: Maggie has a stutter.
  • Spirit Advisor: The ghost of Wayne's grandmother appears to him, explaining how to postpone the loss of his soul.
  • The Stinger: The "A Note on the Type" section includes a bonus scene.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Lou and Vic.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The "Spirit of Ecstasy" on Manx's Rolls Royce is referred to as "the bloofer lady". It's a reference to the original novel Dracula by Bram Stoker but the connection is never explicitly stated.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Bing has one when Manx abandons him, and Manx in turn has one when Vic destroys Christmasland.
  • Villainous Incest: It's implied that Bing raped his mother before murdering her. He later has a thing for mothers in general, with a specific predilection for "mommy titties".