Merry Christmas ya filthy animals!
My favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard. I know a lot of people say that now and they tend to say it with a smug smile as if they’re the most clever boy to ever live even though pretty much everyone thinks of Die Hard as a Christmas movie now. But lemme tell ya, I’ve been doing this shit for probably 20 years now. So if anyone deserves to have a smug smile it’s me. I’m the trendsetter!
All of this is to say my holiday entertainment can be pretty non-traditional. I have my normal Christmas fare (Muppet Christmas Carol, Nightmare Before Christmas, Love Actually, those sorts of things) but my favorites are all more Christmas adjacent than Christmas themed. Die Hard, Gremlins, Batman Returns. I also tend to watch Lord of the Rings around Christmas because they were each released in December and I can’t help but associate them with the season.
Books are a different story (ehHEH…ees joke). I’ve never really had any non-children’s book that I can return to for Christmas. I don’t like A Christmas Carol because of its distinct lack of muppets and…there are no other non-children’s Christmas books. It’s just A Christmas Carol. Don’t refute that with facts or anything, because deep down you know it’s true.
So I’ve decided to take on a new tradition. Every year I’m going to read Joe Hill’s N0S4A2 (hereafter referred to as Nosferatu cus that’s a pain in the ass to type out). It’s a wonderfully disturbing story about a semi-vampire who steals children and takes them to his own personal hell called “Christmasland.” His name is Charlie Manx and he is one of the most delightfully evil antagonists in recent memory. What makes Mr. Manx so evil is that he promises eternal happiness for the children he steals and, in a way, he delivers it. All the children in Christmasland are joyful and happy and they get to play forever and ever. It’s just the games they play have names like “Scissors-for-the-Drifter” and they have hooks for teeth. They may tear you limb from limb, but they’ll be laughing the entire time.
The book follows Vic McQueen, a tough little girl with a messed up family life who discovers that she has the power to travel across an interdimensional bridge (one that takes its name quite literally) to find anything she is looking for. Every time she does it though it hurts her a little bit more. To avoid giving a very detailed plot synopsis I’ll just say that the story is well-written and moving. Filled with family drama, sorrow, and touching moments of hope – the book is really an examination of the cycle of abuse and how the traumas of our childhood can affect our own children as well. But it’s also about a woman trying to be a good mother, against her own instincts. And to top it all off there’s a charming romance between Vic and the father of her child. What I’m trying to say is the book made me cry, and one moment in particular stuck with me long after I finished.
There are a few fun easter egss in the book, references to Hill’s other work and the works of his famous father, and stick around to the end of the “About the Font” section for a fun Marvel-style after credits scene.
Joe Hill is very good at what he does and comparisons to his father are inevitable. Where I think Stephen King is better at dialogue, Joe is an absolute master of stirring emotion. There are small scenes in here that are absolutely devastating and little moments between Vic and her son that perfectly encapsulate how desperate Vic is to be a good mom, and how much it hurts her to be repeating the mistakes of her own parents.
It’s not a joyous experience but it’s perfectly suited for a season of long nights and cold weather. Sometimes you need a little darkness to really get in the spirit. Right? That’s not just me right? Guys? Don’t leave me hanging you filthy animals!
Whatever. Shut up and go read the book. Also the graphic novel prequel. They’re both good.
Love you all you little bastards! Merry Christmas from me and Wife-Tron. Make sure to have book handy for when you get sick of your families!