Review – Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box

By Joe Hill

SummaryAging, 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. 

The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker’s sanity.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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I’ve heard great things about Joe Hill and his novels. I picked up Heart-Shaped Box from a used bookstore and I realized there was something familiar about his face. With some googling, I realized that he was Stephen King’s son and I was holding a horror novel in my hands. How did a not know about this person? I was super excited to dig in, but a bit skeptical because what if he either didn’t live up to his father’s name or what if the book was way too much like King novels? It has to be tough being a horror writer with such a famous father!

I really loved Heart-Shaped Box

It was a sort of unorthodox horror tale with the main character being kind of dark and gothic and macabre already. How on earth could a ghost really get to him? But that was the best part. The ghost wasn’t a stranger like I had expected. In fact, nothing really happened that I expected. The book constantly took me by surprise and kept me on the edge of my seat. The characters were well developed, the ghost story riveting and believable. There were moments when I couldn’t read the book because old Craddock freaked me out and I found myself looking around, over my shoulder, afraid to climb the dark stairs to the bedroom each night.

 I am very impressed with the writing. I feel like the book got to me like a Stephen King novel, with the author balancing storytelling and fear without going overboard, but the voice was unique and not like King at all. It pulled me in the way a Stephen King horror would, using music and pop culture in a similar way as well, but Hill is a fabulous horror writer who found his own voice, which is impressive. I highly recommend Heart-Shaped Box. It freaked me out, but told me a good story at the same time. 

I will definitely read more of Hill. I have Horns on my TBR shelf as well, so I’m excited to dive into that book at some point this fall.

Star 5


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