Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: The Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

He climbed the stairs and started back down the hall to the bedroom. His gaze drifted to an old man, sitting in an antique Shaker chair against the wall. As soon as Jude saw him, his pulse lunged in alarm, and he looked away, fixed his gaze on he bedroom door, so he could only see the old man from the edge of his vision. In the moments that followed, Jude felt it was a mater of leife and death not to make eye contact with the old man, to give no sign tha he saw him. He did not see him, Jude told himself. There was no one there. [pg 29-30]


Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
William Morrow, 2007
Horror; 376 pgs


I remember when Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box came out. It was all the buzz. Nearly everyone loved it and couldn't stop talking about it, or so it seemed. I love the premise of the novel. A man who likes to collect macabre things, buys a ghost through a website auction. He gets much more than he bargained for.

What transpires is a nightmare of a story that builds in intensity as it goes. The suit carrying the ghost wasn't meant to belong to just anyone, as Jude soon finds out. His past comes back to haunt him in more ways than one. It took a while for the main character to grow on me. He wasn't the most likable person initially. He is a former rock star who has hurt his share of people over the years, one who goes through women like they are potato chips. His current girlfriend is the young Marybeth, nicknamed Georgia, after the state she is from as all of SS's past girlfriends were. She's a feisty woman, not easily shaken. As the story progresses, however, the reader sees a different side to Jude. He's not quite as tough and despicable as he at first may seem. And by the end, I was definitely rooting for him and Marybeth (and, of course, the dogs).

The ghost himself was scary in his own right. There was a subtleness to the horror initially which grew until it boiled over near the end. This is not a novel for the faint of heart.

Heart-Shaped Box got off to a slow start for me, but I cannot pinpoint why. The novel is very well written and the pacing was perfect for the type of novel it was. The characters were well developed and although the story was at times predictable, it was never lacking in suspense or imagination. By the time I reached the second half of the book, I didn't want to put it down. And I loved the way it all came together in the end, including the wrap up.

I can see why so many people sing Joe Hill's praises. He definitely has a gift for writing a creepy, entertaining and frightening story.


For more information about Joe Hill and his books, visit the author's website.

Read for the Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) Challenge

Source: I purchased this book a couple of years ago from a book club.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

26 comments:

  1. This is one of the most original horror I've read so far, and the creepiest no doubt.

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  2. I liked this one, and he seems to have his dad's talent for horror, I thought.

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  3. Oooh, I forgot about this one. I really want to read this. I'm in the mood for creepy!

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  4. I am convinced that this would make the perfect Halloween read and I really want to get the chance to read it soon. I am so glad to hear that it's creepy and good. I have been hearing a lot of good things about Hill and actually follow him on twitter. Looking forward to trying this one out. It sounds great, and I am glad you liked it so much!

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  5. I have this on the tbr and it sounds like a great creepy read. I'll have to try to get to it soon.

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  6. I really liked this one when I read it. I got the book for a bargain too, so it's doubly good!

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  7. Sounds like the perfect book for October!

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  8. I enjoyed this one a lot, especially for the characterisation. And it is weird that I have extra good memories of it because it was the first book I read for my very first RIP challenge? :P

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  9. I'm glad you ended up liking this one Wendy. I just couldn't get into it and ended up giving up on it shortly after I started it. Maybe I should have given it more time.

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  10. I'm not a big horror reader but I really enjoyed this one. I listened to the audio version. There was one part I thought was just in there for the effect and it didn't add to the story so much, but that's just me. I think he did a great job on this on overall.
    I was looking forward to seeing it as a movie but nothing has come of it.

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  11. I had to come see what you thought about it, since this book is sitting on this year's RIP reading pile for me! You've just moved it up to the top! I am glad you enjoyed it, and I am now forewarned that the beginning is a little slow.

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  12. Glad to see you liked this scary read. I haven't read anything by the author yet, that will change soon though when I pick up 20th century ghosts later this month. I have this book too...can't wait to get to it. Although..maybe I'll save it for next October. Yeah..that sounds like a good plan.

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  13. For some strange reason I feel like reading a good creepy book and I have a copy of this one!!! Yay!! Great review.

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  14. I think this would be too creepy for me.

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  15. This is one of the scariest scary books I have ever read and I've read well over half of Joe Hill's daddy's books. What I particularly love about Heart-Shaped Box is that it does new things with a ghost story. Ghosts do things I've never read ghosts do - travel, drive, etc.

    For more great scares and writing, read Joe Hill's short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts. Perfect for Halloween.
    Helen Ellis

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  17. Great review. I do agree, this was a great read. The ghost was very scary.
    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

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  18. Oddly enough for me, the beginning was so intense and I couldn't put the book down. Still I thought it was a great scary story. I've read a couple of his short stories from 20th Century Ghosts and those have been great too.

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  19. My husband really enjoyed this but I think it 's probably not for me, LOL!

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  20. I have this book in my TBR pile. MY sister didn't like it so much. I still want to read it though.

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  21. This is one I'd really like to read but keep forgetting about! Until someone writes a review like this and has me wanting to pick it up. ;) I'm glad you liked this one Wendy. Sometimes a slow start can be rough, but good thing it picked up and didn't let you down!

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  22. I haven't read anything by Joe Hill (sometimes I write this so often that I wonder what/whose work I actually do read!) yet but this sounds like a good book to consider. Have you read any of his other books?

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  23. This is one of those books that I avoided when it first came out because it seemed like everyone was reading and blogging about it at the same time. It's still there on my TBR list though and I still want to read it. Your review made me want to boost it back up near the top of the list.!!

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  24. Hubby and I listened to this last year and we both hated it. It was way too slow, but I have to think the reader might have had something to do with our dislike since so many people loved it.

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  25. Thank you all for your great comments. I really am impressed with Joe Hill's writing. Horror novels are hit and miss with me but even he can make me a fan.

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