Listened: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, 2013, Overdrive download.
Good stuff. Narrated by Captain Janeway.
Vic McQueen is "The Brat". She's about 10-years-old. She lives in Northern Massachusetts. Her parents fight a lot. The latest summertime fight is over what happened to the mom's bracelet. Vic leaves the house on her Raleigh bike. Vic heads into the wooded paths by her house and travels over a closed off covered bridge. Vic exits the bridge into New Hampshire. That's weird. Vic walks over the lunch place the family stopped at earlier that day. The lunch counter guy gives Vic the missing necklace.
Vic falls ill after her return journey on the bridge. She has a fever and delirium. Vic remembers the covered bridge as a dream. This happens a few more times through her childhood. Each time Vic falls ill and thinks of her real trip across the bridge as fevered dreams. One trip takes Vic to Homoe, Iowa where a woman, Maggie, is there to meet here. Maggie can also take weird trips through space. Maggie's trips are through Scrabble tiles. Maggie explains things to Vic and us, the readers. Maggie warns Vic about The Wraith, a killer who uses his car to travel the country, kidnap children, and take the children to Christmasland.
Vic's family falls apart and her dad skips north. As a teen Vic has a vicious argument with her mother and takes off on her old bike. Vic goes through the bridge and ends up near Gun Barrel, Colorado. Vic ends up at The Wraith's house. Vic escapes the scary dude. Vic rescued by Motorcycle Guy. The Wraith, Charles Manx, is caught.
Time goes on. Vic and Motorcycle Guy have a kid. Vic is screwed up from her time with Manx. Vic receives phantom phone calls from the children in Christmasland. Manx's body disappears from the morgue.
More things happen. I will not recap them all. Hill does a good job with screwed Vic working to rebuild her life. With the uber-nerdy Motorcycle Guy and his deep love for Vic and their son. Things end fairly happily with a nice mix of reality versus magical bridge.
1. Hill provides a very nice afterword for the audio edition. I had forgotten who his parents were. Hill never uses his real name but talks about his family and how their activities drove his interest in writing and reading. He had much praise for his mother. I recall reading how his dad would pay the kids to read and record audiobooks for the dad to listen to.
2. Hill's afterword praises Captain Janeway. She previously narrated a short story by Hill and he really liked her work and she was hired for this. Hill spoke about how he really loves two greatly different books. He realized his fondness for them both is attributed to the narrator who read the books. Much like my fondness for John Lee's work.
4. Many commonalities to a novel I just finished, Jewelweed. Motorcycles, bats, damaged women whose past traumas drive them to act against their best interests.
5. Gratuitous Triumph motorcycles.
6. Gratuitous, and Gerard approved, slam on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
7. Manx is a neat bad guy because he believes in what he is doing. He truly believes he is saving the children he kidnaps. He murders their parents of course, but those adults were awful people who would have destroyed the kids. Christmasland is Christmas morning every day. Who didn't love Christmas morning as a kid?