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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.

R.I.P XV Begins Today!

Heart Shaped Box

The first book I plan to read for the R.I.P. XV challenge is Heart-Shaped Box. It’s been on my list for a really long time. I’ve heard good things. I have high hopes.

Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre — his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, etc. — so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it.

It’s not too late to join in. Just pick some books or movies and use the hashtags you see below when talking about them on Twitter and Instagram (#PERILREADERS, #RIPXV).

RIPXV