Shelf Control #189: Wraith by Joe Hill

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!


I thought I’d go with something appropriately terrifying for the eve of Halloween:

Title: Wraith
Author: Joe Hill
Published: 2014
Length: 204 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Joe Hill’s New York Times Bestselling novel, NOS4A2, introduced readers to the terrifying funhouse world of Christmasland, and the mad man who rules there: Charlie Talent Manx III. Now, in an original new comic miniseries, Hill throws wide the candy cane gates to tell a standalone story that is at once both accessible to new readers, and sure to delight fans of the book.

How and when I got it:

I bought it back in 2014 when it was first released.

Why I want to read it:

NOS4A2 was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever read. Okay, most Joe Hill books scare the daylights out of me — but at the same time, I enjoy every horrible, super-scary moment! Wraith is a graphic novel set in the same world as NOS4A2, and I knew I had to have it… but I haven’t quite psyched myself up to read it yet!

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Mini-review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. Plus, a photo opp!

In which I write about NOS4A2 by Joe Hill… and about going to Joe Hill’s book signing in San Francisco this week!


So yeah, I’m not necessarily going to write a thoughtful, carefully worded book review here. I’m still feeling too giddy — the effect that all good book events have on me. I adore going to author appearances. I love hearing authors read from their books. I love when they answer questions (even the kinda dumb ones). And I especially love when they write stuff in my book! Like, with my name, and maybe some other words, and maybe a gold or silver marker or something.

So yeah, first things first:


My book! It’s signed! In gold pen!

Joe Hill signed my book! It was a terrific event. I’d guess about 50 – 60 people attended, at a great indie book store in the Haight. Joe was funny and friendly, answered lots of questions, did a great reading of the prologue, and was just nice and humble and an all-around decent person. Plus, he did this before he was officially introduced:

photo 2… which was all kinds of adorable.

So, onward to the review section of this love-fest.

NOS4A2 is the story of Victoria (Vic) McQueen, one tough survivor of a woman, who has been through all sorts of hell in her life and still managed to hang on, sometimes just by the skin of her teeth. Vic has a talent, first discovered during childhood, for finding lost objects — by traveling, impossibly, across a dilapidated covered bridge that exists only in her mind to the places where the lost objects await her. Charlie Manx is Vic’s worst nightmare. Charlie is an indescribably old man, a killer and a kidnapper, a vampirish soul-sucker, who has spent countless decades stealing children away from their parents and transporting them in his classic Rolls Royce to Christmasland. Vic and Charlie cross paths, fatefully, during Vic’s teen years, and then again years later, when Vic is a tenuously stable mother to 12-year-old Wayne. When Charlie reenters Vic’s life, she has to risk everything to get her son back by whatever means possible.

And that’s all I’ll say about the plot, a) because it’s incredibly difficult to describe and b) because you really have to experience this book for yourself, with the fewest preconceived notions as possible.

NOS4A2 is, hands-down, the creepiest, most twisted thing I’ve read in years. At almost 700 pages, this big book is full of gasp- and twinge-inducing moments. There’s a lot of yuckiness. There’s a lot of ickiness. There are all sorts of shades of evil and menace. Bad things happen to good people.

Through it all, Joe Hill’s writing soars. His phrasing is funny, idiomatic, descriptive, and even poetic… if you can be poetic while describing maniacal vehicles and gasmask-wearing sadistic serial killers. Never underestimate the scary power of a simple Christmas carol — if it’s playing at the wrong time and in the wrong circumstances:

The radio popped on, playing “Jingle Bell Rock” at top volume — so loud it hurt his ears — a song that had no business playing in the spring. At the sound of it, Demeter’s whole body went rough and cold with chickenflesh. He poked the OFF switch, but his capacity for surprise was running thin, and he felt no special amazement when it wouldn’t turn off. He punched buttons to change the station, but no matter where the tuner leaped, it was “Jingle Bell Rock” on every channel.

The Rolls Royce itself (a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith, to be precise) is a character on its own, part and parcel of Charlie Manx and practically his familiar. It’s an ominous black hearse of a car, which should attract an outrageous amount of attention on the road — but doesn’t. In one of the book’s rather humorous turns of phrase, Charlie explains:

It is like what they are always saying about Las Vegas: What happens in the Wraith stays in the Wraith.

Vic is a wonderful main character, spiky and difficult and full of fierce love. Her sometimes partner and father of her child is Lou Carmody, who I love insanely. Lou is terribly overweight and not very healthy, but has a heart of gold, the soul of a hero, and is a geeky fanboy through and through, as well as one hell of a mechanic. Lou’s devotion to Vic and to Wayne is all sorts of beautiful.

Joe Hill is — as is well known by now — the very talented son of Stephen King, and in NOS4A2, he pays tribute to his dad’s monumental achievements in ways both subtle and overt. A car that’s a vessel of evil, an enormous St. Bernard dog (although not rabid, thank the gods), nods to Derry and Pennywise the Clown — all add to the depth of the horror without detracting in the slightest from Joe Hill’s own incredible gift for storytelling.

I realize I’m gushing, so I’ll stop. NOS4A2 is a big, scary, un-put-down-able book. Read it!

photo 3

Read this. Wear your seatbelt.

Oh, and make sure you read every single page in the book. Including after the story ends. You’ll thank me later.

Thursday Quotables: NOS4A2

tq7Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

If you’d like to participate, it’s really simple:

  • Follow Bookshelf Fantasies, if you please!
  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now.
  • Link up via the linky below (look for the cute froggy face).
  • Make sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (
  • Have fun!

tq5From a truly creepy, disturbing, and un-put-down-able book, I picked two non-creepy quotes — both appealing to me as a book lover.

This  week’s Thursday Quotables:

The room on the other side of the iron door was ten degrees cooler than the parkland outside. Vic smelled the vast vault filled with books before she saw it, because her eyes required time to adjust to the cavernous dark. She breathed deeply of the scent of decaying fiction, disintegrating history, and forgotten verse, and she observed for the first time that a room full of books smelled like dessert: a sweet snack made of figs, vanilla, glue, and cleverness. The iron door settled shut behind them, the weight of it clanging heavily against the frame.

And another:

His company did not cheer her but only made her more conscious of her own aloneness. Hutter had believed she would have more friends by now. The last man she’d dated said something to her, shortly before they broke up: “I don’t know, maybe I’m boring, but I never really feel like you’re there when we’re out to dinner. You live in your head. I can’t. No room for me in there. I don’t know, maybe you’d be more interested in me if I were a book.”

Source:  NOS4A2
Author: Joe Hill
William Morrow, 2013

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

Link up, or share your quote of the week in the comments.