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Review: Heart-Shaped Box

Heart Shaped Box

Heart-Shaped Box
By Joe Hill
William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780061944895, 2009, 400pp.

The Short of It:

This is a classic ghost story with all the horror elements you’d expect from Hill, without it being too graphic.

The Rest of It:

Judas Coyne is a fifty-something ex-rocker who has a taste for the macabre. He collects things that most people wouldn’t, which is how he comes to possess a suit that comes with a ghost. As Jude (short for Judas) learns, this ghost is not just any ghost and he means business.

This is the story of Jude and his girlfriend Marybeth, also known as Georgia. When this suit arrives in a heart-shaped box, Jude is intrigued. He has no idea what to expect but he doesn’t have to wait long to find out. The suit is accompanied by a ghost named Craddock and what begins as mild curiosity turns into a fight for their lives as Craddock takes them down the “night road” and continues to display glimpses of their future to them. A future where Jude murders the ones he loves.

This was a fantastic read and it’s been on my to-read shelve for YEARS. Not sure why I waited so long to get to it but I wish I had gotten to it sooner. Joe Hill. He’s Stephen King’s kid in case you don’t know but he definitely has his own sense of style when it comes to storytelling and from the very first page I was riveted and had to know the outcome of these two characters.

If I had to find any fault with it at all, I would say that as soon as the ghost makes his appearance, the one thing that made me curious about the book in the first place went out the window. All the macabre stuff that he collected over the years was never mentioned again. Someone with a penchant for that sort of thing would perhaps use it to his advantage? I was expecting it to become part of the story but that never happened.

I really enjoyed the character of Marybeth (Georgia). She was sweet but with a hard edge. I could not help but root for her. Hill did a good job of writing her as strong, but also vulnerable. She brought just the right mix of danger plus loyalty to the story.

Now for the fear factor. A reader on Facebook advised me to read it during the day, that it could get pretty intense. It was intense at times but like a “race to the finish” intense. All of the horror elements were appropriately creepy but I didn’t feel that Hill tossed anything in there for shock value alone. I really enjoyed it.

I read this for the R.I.P Challenge.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Kindred

Kindred

Kindred
By Octavia Butler
Beacon Press, 9780807083697, 2004, 264pp.

The Short of It:

Not your typical science fiction read.

The Rest of It:

Dana and her husband Kevin find themselves in a unique situation. While celebrating her 26th birthday at their home in California, Dana becomes dizzy and then disappears before Kevin’s eyes. In an instant, Dana is transported to a Southern plantation. Her mission is apparently to save the white child who is drowning in front of her but this simple act of kindness earns her a shotgun pointed at her face when the plantation owner believes her to be the cause of his boy’s condition, not the other way around. As a black woman, Dana quickly realizes that if she doesn’t watch herself, she could end up enslaved along with the other slaves on the plantation.

This novel uses time travel to tell its story. Each time Dana goes back, Rufus, the young boy she saved is a little bit older and more like his father every day. Although Rufus makes disappointing choices which often result in a beating for Dana, she somehow feels a connection to him. And then when Dana’s husband Kevin enters this strange world along with Dana, things become much more complicated as Kevin is white, and the people of this time period don’t believe in a marriage between a white man and a black woman.

This is a strange story. I was immediately pulled in by the premise but it continually felt wrong to me and no explanation is given regarding the events in this story. We never learn why Dana has been called to return to this time. There is a short mention of ancestors and it is implied that Rufus is family. I suppose you don’t really need an explanation for the story to work but I was looking for one.

Butler does a good job of depicting plantation life and expressing the horrors through Dana’s eyes. If you’ve maxed out on slavery books this one might be one for you to try because it’s very different and hey, it’s science fiction.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.