Review: “Heart-Shaped Box”

Ebook Review: “Heart-Shaped Box” By Joe Hill

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In “Heart-Shaped Box,” retired rocker Judas Coyne keeps a collection of oddities and occult artifacts.  Tempted by a post on an online bidding site, Judas purchases a ghost and the dead man’s suit.  The suit is delivered in a heart-shaped box and the ghost turns up, bringing with him, with him a cold chill of unease.  We soon learn that the ghost and the online posting were not coincidences – they are the beginning of a revenge plot from the family of Judas’ ex-girl friend, who died tragically after Judas broke up with her.

The ghost, we learn is the ex-girlfriend’s stepfather and a man who specialized in ghosts and mind control.  This makes him an extremely powerful and terrifying enemy, bent on making Judas kill not only himself, but his young goth girlfriend as well.

I really can’t go any further into summarizing without giving away the nail-biting suspense and plot twists that make this novel so good.  I bought this book, because I’ve heard a lot of good things about Joe Hill recently – be it from reviews, an article in “Writer’s Digest,” or from friends.  The biggest reason I had to try this book is that Hill’s daddy is none other than the daddy of suspense – Stephen King.  Seeing as it is October, the month for thrills and chills, I departed from my usual romance genre and into the world of the creepy crawly…

…And I was very pleasantly surprised by Joe Hill – his writing is excellent and impressive, considering it is his debut novel.  Not only does it appear that genius for suspense must run in the family, I think that Joe Hill may actually be (gasp, I know this is sacrilege to the thriller genre) better than his dad.

Believe it or not, I do depart from my mainstay of romantic fiction periodically and in one of those departures, I went on a serious Stephen King bender (to be fair both horror and romance give a lot of “low brow” thrills and chills, of which I am a huge fan).  I loved “Salem’s lot” and “The Stand.”  I also read “The Shining,” and while the build-up was really, reeeeeally good,  I felt the pay-off/climax was kind of disappointing (especially after all that awesome suspense).  Joe Hill does not have that problem in “Heart-Shaped Box.”  Hill is able to sustain suspense and horror through the entire book and hits the ending just right.

I give Joe Hill’s “Heart-Shaped Box” a solid 4.5 stars out of 5 – an excellent Halloween or spooky read.  Just make sure you read it with the lights on (and with your dog by your side to protect you). 🙂  I’m definitely checking out more of Joe Hill’s novels after NaNoWriMo and I hope you do too.

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