Hill is Stephen King’s son, in case you didn’t know. This is the first of his writing that I’ve picked up to read and I think I can safely say that he is his father’s son. I suppose some might call it a slam when I say that the book has the feel of classic Stephen King; people are all about artists blazing their own paths. But if you know how much I love classic King, you’ll know it’s no slam coming from me. The book, which is pretty hefty at almost nine-hundred pages, moves like a house on fire; it’s a page-turner for sure. It’s the story of Victoria McQueen, though she likes to be called Vic, and her strange ability to find things simply by thinking about them and riding across a particular covered bridge in the woods; it’s also the story of Charlie Manx and his menacing Rolls Royce, complete with titular license plate, and his strange propensity for stealing children in order to populate a place he calls “Christmasland.” If something is telling you Christmasland isn’t as happy a place as it sounds . . . well, trust your instincts on that. The book isn’t very scary, but it’s incredibly imaginative; Hill has a gift for strange, haunting images and disturbing ones too – the book won’t scare you exactly, but it’ll make your skin crawl a bit. But, just like King, Hill grounds all the fantastic and supernatural stuff in believable, interesting characters and real human emotions. Vic is a wonderful character, as strong a female character as I’ve read in quite a while; and Manx is a creepy villain – the less said about the Gas Mask Man right now, the better. And there’s a small supporting character named Maggie, a girl that gets psychic messages through Scrabble tiles that’s interesting and compelling enough to base a whole book around, but she’s just a supporting player here. And I’m not ashamed to say that I found myself getting a little misty-eyed a couple of times in that last hundred pages or so. Anyway, it’s a great, compulsive read. I found myself just really caught up and wanting to just keep reading. It’s definitely one of those books that’s both a great genre read and also a smart literary piece. Yeah, great book. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – Hill has the genius of his father, Stephen King; this epic about good vs. evil is both a fantastic and compelling horror thriller and a well-written, wonderfully characterized, deeply emotional piece of literature. 4 stars.