I listened to the audio book of NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (aka Stephen King’s son Joe King) about a year or two ago. I liked it: it had several scary moments, awesome characters, and trippy psychic phenomena his dear dad probably approved wholeheartedly (the only real downside was the narrator. Just totally wrong for that book). When I heard a TV adaptation was in the works, I got interested, especially since the book doesn’t exactly lend itself to adaptation. But adapted it was. And whoo-boy, what an adaptation.

NOS4A2 follows Vic McQueen, a teenager whose motorbike allows her to access the Shorter Way Bridge, a supernatural wormhole that helps her find lost things. She later finds out that there’s another like her out there: Charlie Manx, a man who kidnaps children in his Rolls Royce Wraith (the license plate of which is where the title of the show comes from), transforms them into vampiric monsters, and takes them to a place in an alternate dimension called Christmasland, where it’s Christmas Eve every night and Christmas Day every day. In exchange, he gets to stay young. And whether by choice or by fate, Vic must face Manx and stop him, or he’ll keep taking kids forever.

Let me just say, the cast of this show is the best part. Every actor fully becomes their characters, so that it becomes hard to remember anything else you’ve seen them in. The best, of course, are Ashleigh Cummings as the protagonist Vic McQueen and Zachary Quinto as antagonist Manx. Cummings truly makes you believe she’s a teen just trying to get out of town and out of poverty, preferably by going to art school in Providence. And oh my God, whether as his normal self or under a lot of make-up and prosthetics to look a hundred years old, Quinto is creepy as heck. He comes off as charming on the surface but underneath is a psychopath hungry for power and totally convinced of his own line of altruistic bullshit. I swear, if he goes in character at a convention, every parent who’s seen the show is going to scream and grab their child out of instinct before remembering he’s an actor in a role.

Of course, the show itself is nothing to sneeze at. There are several creepy and tense moments, and more than a few scenes where Vic is in danger that kept me on the edge of my seat. Even better, there are no episodes where things slow down and get unnecessarily boring. There was one episode where Vic had to go to a hospital where I thought it would get slow and boring, and she’d spend the whole book sorting her life out before deciding to fight Manx. Without getting into details, my expectations were subverted (and not in a bad way, like what I hear happened to the last season of Game of Thrones).

The only issues I had were that some things the writers included just didn’t feel necessary or make sense to me. In one episode, Vic’s got twelve hours to meet up with Manx, who has kidnapped a kid she knows. What does she do in the meantime? She parties at a rich friend’s house, gets drunk, and talks with a cute boy before getting sick. Whaaat?

And what was with the halfhearted love-triangle? They just kind of didn’t go anywhere with that, so why would they include it?

But on the whole, NOS4A2‘s first season is a strong start for the series, and I can’t wait for the second season. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving this season a 4.4. An amazing cast and great storytelling mixed with taut atmosphere and mystery. Grab your reality-cutting knife, get some hot chocolate and candy canes, and dive into the Highway of the Mind. You won’t be disappointed.

And until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares.

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