Thursday, May 28, 2015

Heart-Shaped Box

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (2007)

Aging rock star Judas Coyne has a pretty large collection of oddities, so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale, he impulsively decides to add it to his collection. Soon, the package arrives: a heart-shaped box containing an old-fashioned suit. Judas stashes it in his closet and goes about his life with his 20-something girlfriend Georgia, but the suit - and its former inhabitant - will not be ignored.

Surprise: Judas finding this sale was not a coincidence. It turns out he has a connection to this unhappy ghost, and now he and Georgia must try to make things right and get this creepy-ass thing off their backs. Not only is this a ghost story, but it's also a road-trip story and I cannot imagine a better combination.

I always tell people that Joe Hill has a different style than his father, Stephen King, but Hill's debut reminds me a lot of old-school King. This character-driven novel stars a very imperfect man, but one I came to sympathize with nonetheless. The creepy parts were so very well done, employing some of the worst parts of my nightmares, and I am literally referring to nightmares I have had. Joe Hill, how did you know?
I won't ruin it for you to detail the bits of this book that made my blood run a bit cold, but just trust me that they were there.

I've been reading horror since I was about twelve, and I no longer believe in the supernatural as I did when I was a kid. But although I don't actually get scared by horror anymore, I remember when I did believe in ghosts and, man, there were moments in this story that I found delicious because they were so perfect. Had I read this back when I first started reading horror it would have positively kept me up all night in terror, but now it just kept me up because I couldn't stop reading it. It was so much creepy fun!

Although I haven't really been able to get into Locke & Key, I find Hill's other books just perfect for me so now I'm looking forward to finally reading his newest novel, NOS4A2. I read Heart-Shaped Box for my TBR Pile Challenge and also my book group. I hope everyone else in book group likes it as much as I did!

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