Book Review: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Posted February 29, 2016 by @Angelized_1st in 2016 Horror Reading Challenge, Books, Entertainment, Reading Challenges / 6 Comments

Book Review: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe HillHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Published by Harper Collins on February 13th 2007
Genres: Fiction, General, Ghost, Horror, Thrillers
Pages: 376
Format: eBook
Source: Library
ISBN: 9780061147937
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman's noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can't help but reach for his wallet.

I will "sell" my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder. . . .

For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn't afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts—of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What's one more?

But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. It's the real thing.

And suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door . . . seated in Jude's restored vintage Mustang . . . standing outside his window . . . staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting—with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand. . . .

A multiple-award winner for his short fiction, author Joe Hill immediately vaults into the top echelon of dark fantasists with a blood-chilling roller-coaster ride of a novel, a masterwork brimming with relentless thrills and acid terror.

“The dead win when you quit singing and let them take you on down the road with them.”

Heart-Shaped Box is the third book I’ve read by author Joe Hill, and like the others causes the reader to contemplate morality, right and wrong, and what it means to be human. The story centers around famed rocker Judas Coyne, who is a collector of rare and macabre artifacts. When he comes across the sale of a ghost, Jude just can’t resist, and ends up realizing that it’s not always best to get what you want. A suspenseful ghost story, Heart-Shaped Box will captivate you from beginning to end.

What I liked about this book was how it turned out to be a bit of a mystery, instead of a plain ghost story. The reader discovers along with Jude, that things aren’t always what they seem. Jude bought a ghost thinking it would be a fun time if the ghost proved to be real, and discovered that real ghosts aren’t all like Casper. I enjoyed figuring out what the ghost wants, and why Jude was being haunted. Figuring this out kept me invested, even when I thought Jude deserved what he got.

I also liked the deeper themes within the story. Instead of a basic ghost story, Hill forces the reader to ask moral questions about Jude and the Ghost’s past actions. Even though Jude struggles with the ghost, he’s also being haunted by memories from his past. Memories that have made him the man who would be haunted by someone. Jude isn’t always a likable character, but that’s ok. His personality factors into the story in a major way, and added depth to the story. While I didn’t think this novel was as good as Hill’s NOS4A2, I would still recommend this novel. Especially to horror readers who want to read something that makes you think. A novel that’s more than gore and violence. Heart-Shaped Box was a story that stayed with me days after I read it.

About Joe Hill

Joseph Hillstrom King (born 1972) is an American writer of fiction, writing under the pen name of Joe Hill.

Hill is the the second child of authors Stephen King and Tabitha King. His younger brother Owen King is also a writer. He has three children.

Hill’s first book, the limited edition collection 20th Century Ghosts published in 2005 by PS Publishing, showcases fourteen of his short stories and won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection, together with the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection and Best Short Story for “Best New Horror”. In October 2007, Hill’s mainstream US and UK publishers reprinted 20th Century Ghosts, without the extras published in the 2005 slipcased versions, but including one new story.

Hill’s first novel, Heart-Shaped Box, was published by William Morrow/HarperCollins on February 13, 2007 and by Victor Gollancz Ltd in UK in March 2007. Simultaneous to these two editions, a limited edition of Heart-Shaped Box was also released by Subterranean Press; it sold out several months prior to publication. The novel reached number 8 on the New York Times bestseller list on April 1, 2007.


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6 responses to “Book Review: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

    • @Angelized_1st

      NOS4A2! I read that one after Thanksgiving. Such a good book! I think I like it more than Heart-Shapped Box. Horns is pretty good, too! I hope you get to check him out. Have a great week 🙂

    • @Angelized_1st

      His books are pretty cool. Mostly because they’re a bit different. In fact, I find them a bit deep, and often think on them long after I’ve read them. I hope you give him a try.

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