A review by hayleys_comment
NOS4A2, by Joe Hill

dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


On a technical level, NOS4A2 is an imaginative, well-written horror novel. It takes familiar concepts, (magic, murder, and Christmas) and twists them into strange, blood-soaked treats. The protagonists are ragged and complicated. The villains are creepy and weird. The plot is interesting. The pacing is good (especially in action sequences—Hill’s got some crazy rhythm). It’s gritty, off-the-wall, and freaky to the max.

Technical-goodness aside, I have a some mixed feelings about Hill’s work. The book’s a bit like Dracula, in that every once and a while, there will be a scene that really grabs you, or a line that makes your pulse pound. Everything in-between is just background noise. Of the (roughly) 700 pages, only a handful are memorable.

If you’re not sure whether this book is for you, here are a few things to consider:

1. The novel relies heavily on themes of sexism, sexual assault, and child abuse. There are a few scenes that feature existential/body horror, but they’re less prevalent.

2. Hill is fantastic at scene descriptions. When he’s describing something cool, it’s awesome. Really, really awesome. When he’s describing something gross, it’s visceral. And this novel gets gross. Really, really gross. Nothing too crazy for a horror novel, but it’s definitely worth mentioning, especially with point #1.

3. Ask yourself this: could you ever think of Christmas as something strange, or scary? If the answer is no, you’ll have a hard time suspending your disbelief. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try, but it may have an effect on how you engage with Hill’s story. Christmasland is a big deal.

4. If you’re hesitant, check the content warnings. Seriously. There’s no shame in saying, “this isn’t for me,” or, “not right now.” You can always come back later.

The audio book, narrated by Kate Mulgrew, is absolutely bonkers. 10/10. If you’re an audio person, you’re in for a treat. 

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