Better watch out,
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Charlie Manx is coming to town!
(In his Rolls Royce Wraith no less)
Ok ok, I guess it’s not quite fair to compare Manx to Santa. But in his own twisted deluded way, Manx believes to the tips of his toes that he is doing good for the little children. For he takes them away from their horrible parents and brings them to….
“Christmasland is the true happiest place in the world.”
“In Christmasland every day is Christmas, and the children there never feel anything like unhappiness. No, the children there don’t even understand the concept of unhappiness! There is only fun. It is like heaven – only of course they are not dead! They live forever, remains children for eternity, and are never forced to struggle and sweat and demean themselves like poor adults.”
He ropes in the simple-minded Bing Patridge to help him in his task of getting children away from their evil parents and whisking them off to that happy place called Christmasland. Bing ‘takes care’ of the fathers and mothers. You really don’t want to know what he does.
Now Christmasland is a real place. Sort of. A real place that exists in Manx’s imagination, if that makes any sense. His Wraith, license plate NOS4A2 (“Nosferatu” – yeah it took me a while to figure that out), is his way into his ‘inscape’. And like the name on his vanity plate, Manx feeds on the children, leaving them cold-blooded and savage.
Victoria “Vic” McQueen has her ‘inscape’ too. She has a covered bridge, the Shorter Way, that takes her to find lost things or people. It is a bridge in real life, but one that got torn down years ago. As a kid she got there on her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike. But there is a physical toll – her body is racked with fevers and headaches
Then one day, our young Vic meets Manx and things just go bad.
For both of them.
And they are destined to meet again years later, when Vic is an adult and Manx is, well, let’s just say he’s been declared dead, autopsied and all.
Have I got you intrigued yet?
Well, here’s more!
- “what happens in the Wraith stays in the Wraith”.
- the badass Vic (she is a bit irritating as a young kid, but grows up to be a decent adult) and the sweet loving Lou. Such an unlikely couple, but just so cute and sweet together. Like this conversation:
“Imaginary bridge, superpowered bike. Got it.”
“Over the years I used my bicycle and the bridge to find all kinds of things. Missing stuffed animals or lost photos. Things like that. I didn’t go ‘finding’ often. Just once or twice a year. And as I got older, even less. It started to scare me, because I knew it was impossible, that the world isn’t supposed to work that way. When I was little, it was just pretend. But as I got older, it began to seem crazy. It began to frighten me.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t use your special power to find someone who could tell you there was nothing wrong with you,” Lou said.
Her eyes widened and lit with surprise, and Lou understood that in fact she had done just that.
“How did you–” she began.
“I read a lot of comics. It’s the logical next step,” Lou said. “Discover magic ring, seek out the Guardians of the Universe. Standard operating procedure. Who was it?”
“The bridge took me to a librarian in Iowa.”
“It would be a librarian.”
- So yes! A librarian! And one who uses Scrabble tiles to reveal secrets. She also wears Scrabble earrings that spell ‘F-U’ (“No one looks closely at a librarian. People are afraid of going blind from the glare of ssss-ssso much compressed wisdom.”). And drinks from mugs that say ‘LIBRARIES: WHERE SHHHH HAPPENS’ and ‘DO NOT MAKE ME USE MY LIBRARIAN VOICE’.
- Hill wrote a pretty decent kid character in Wayne. Sometimes kids in books can be irritating (see Vic as the Brat above), but I like Wayne. He’s got quite a bit of Lou in him. (You always know it’s a good book when you’re talking about a character as if he’s a real person.)
- Bing. A story with a Christmasland isn’t a story without a character named Bing. And the smell of gingerbread everywhere.
- Lou is a Browncoat. Could I adore
Joe Hill him more?
I received this book for review from TLC Book Tours and its publisher. Thank you so much!
Check out the rest of the tour stops:
Tuesday, October 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, October 24th: The Best Books Ever
Monday, November 4th: Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, November 5th: The House of Crime and Mystery
Wednesday, November 6th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Thursday, November 7th: Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
Friday, November 8th: Drey’s Library
Monday, November 11th: Entomology of a Bookworm
Tuesday, November 12th: The Book Bag
Wednesday, November 13th: The Reader’s Hollow
Thursday, November 14th: red headed book child
Monday, November 18th: The Road to Here
Tuesday, November 19th: Olduvai Reads
Wednesday, November 20th: The Scarlet Letter
Thursday, November 21st: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
The author of the critically acclaimed Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill is a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award and a past recipient of the Ray Bradbury Fellowship. His stories have appeared in a variety of journals and Year’s Best collections. He calls New England home.
Find out more about Joe at his website and follow him on Twitter: @joe_hill.