Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

This is a genre that I have not written much about, partially because I have only read a few novels in the horror department. I am not a huge fan of scary movies, I am not really sure why, just have never gotten into them. When I was a child I can remember reading R.L. Stine books and thought they were the coolest things ever. When I say read, I mean I would look at the front cover and imagine what was written on the inside pages. I hated to read when I was younger, but again looking at the cool covers I was left to imagine what was going on in the pages beyond the cover. But I digress…

Since my early anti reading days I have read a few novels by Stephen King including Salem’s Lot and Pet Sematary, both are great reads and I recommend them even if you are not a fan of scary literature. Joe Hill believe it or not is Stephen King’s son. Joe wanted to be writer but did not want to use his father’s famous last name to gain success. I think either way he would have been okay, as he is the recipient of numerous awards for this novel. Heart Shaped Box won both the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and the International Thriller Writers Inc award for Best First Novel. That is pretty impressive for a first novel and it was also on the New York Times Best Seller list at number 8 in 2007. This is not the first story I have read by Joe Hill, he also wrote Lock and Key. I have only read the first few trades so I cannot comment on the entire series, but from the trades I have read the story is good. He also has written Horns(which had been made into a movie)and NOS4ATU. I have not read either of those but based on what I have read so far from Hill I will definitely put them on my list.

The story is about a retired heavy metal rocker named Judas, who loves buying weird things, mostly things that are cursed or just really, oddly bizarre. One day he gets an email about a suit that is for sale on ebay that is supposedly haunted by the ghost of the man owned it. Of course this is an opportunity too good to pass up, and with the click of a button Judas buys the suite. Within a few days the suit arrive in a heart shaped box, hints the name of the novel. Judas is happy with his purchase but his girlfriend seems to think there is something very odd about it. While she is trying to put it in a closet she pricks her finger on a pin in the suit.

It does not take long for the couple to figure out that something strange is going on and the suit is the cause. The tiny pin prick on Judas’ girlfriend soon turns into an infected black mass that needs medical attention. The couple never makes it to the hospital as they soon are confronted by the ghost and the whole story take off from there, as the ghost is not a nice ghost to say the least. Judas contacts the seller of the suit and soon realizes something is not right. Judas and his girlfriend take off heading south to find out more about the seller and what is going on.

I know the plot summary I have is very vague but I am telling you that it is awesome. You will not want to put this one down, it is a page turner. The story does a great job of keeping the reader interested with tons of action, and if there is no action going on there is something that will cause the reader to wonder what is happening. Only one way to find out, turn the page. Hill does an excellent job of creating suspense throughout the entire story. I cannot think of a time when the story slowed down and I was bored. It is an exciting ride from cover to cover.

The characters are also great in the story. Judas is a retired rocker that still has some wildness in him and it shows with the women he surrounds himself with. He calls his girlfriends by where they are from not their names. His current girlfriend’s name is Georgia and as the story goes on you see the issues that she has along with his past girlfriend. I like the fact that not only is the story great and exciting the characters are twisted, demented, and have more issues that you can imagine. As the story develops so do the main characters and you slowly start to see the many layers and things they are hiding, most importantly the ones that are dead have the most to hide.

I cannot recommend this story enough. It is a truly wild and awesome read that will be over before you know it, with your mouth open and wanting more. There are some wild scenes in the story that will have you saying out loud “WTF!” The premise is great and the execution is superb. The characters are some of the strangest, weirdest, but believable you will meet in a novel, and Hill does an absolute phenomenal job of portraying these wonderful characters. Joe Hill is one of the most talented young writers that I have read and his talent knows no bounds. I can only hope that he continues to churn out great works for the future. You need to check this one out, great read.


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