October 06, 2011

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

I really need to start reading descriptions better. I had only heard the title of this book, "Heart Shaped Box" before I read it. I expected a love story. And I guess it could somewhat be considered a love story, but I would call it more of a horror. Which actually isn't that bad of a thing.

Judas is an aging rocker who has adjusted to life on his property with his dogs and goth girlfriend Georgia. Because of his death metal like approach to music, he has an odd assortment of things relating to the occult, death, and other macabre things. So its no surprise that when his manager finds a ghost on-line for sale, he decides to take a chance and buy it. A black heart shaped box arrives after this sale and contains an old suit that is supposed to be haunted by an old man who recently died.

From then on its a non-stop adventure. The ghost is definitely in his house, and he isn't innocently haunting it either. A quick call to the original owner turns out to be that that was the plan all along. The ghost and his step-daughter are out to take revenge for a relationship he had with the other step-daughter Florida that ended with her committing suicide. They want him and everyone close to him dead. He and Georgia has to find a way to stop this ghost, even if it means going to Florida and confronting the sister. But can they make it there alive?

The characters in this weren't particularly charming, or even good people really, but despite this I found myself caring about what was going to happen to them. Even if they weren't likable, they were definitely well written. The ghost was appropriately menacing and had a lot of odd character quirks that made him seem very real. He definitely gave me the shivers.

The writing is extremely descriptive and in the break that I took halfway in the book while reading it, I found myself thinking back and re-imagining it as a movie rather than a book. Only after I picked it back up to read I recalled that it was actually a book and not a movie. To go along with this, I must warn that there are some very graphic scenes in this book, both violence and sexual. It may not be good for young or sensitive readers. The writing is non-stop adventure and I think it takes a good author to be able to pull that off. Sometimes it can be hard to non get repetitive with the plights and troubles that high adventure brings but Hill does a wonderful job at keeping you at the edge of your seat.

My only complaint on this book (and this could possibly be a spoiler) is that when more things are revealed, there doesn't seem to be a convincing reason for wanting to kill Judas. The whole logic behind it seems kind of weak to me and while it didn't really ruin the story for me, it did diminish some of its excellence.

I would definitely read something by Joe Hill again. He has a very clear precise storytelling method and I enjoyed the novel. It would be a great book for any people who are fans of the horror genre.

Heart Shaped Box
Copyright 2007
374 pages

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