Published: October 13th 2000
Pages: 403 pages, paperback
Series?: Nope, standalone
Acquired: Purchased myself
Summary (from Goodreads): Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals...a used hangman's noose...a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude cant help but reach for his wallet.
I will "sell" my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder...
For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn't afraid. he has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts--of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the band-mates he betrayed. What's one more? But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. It's the real thing.
And suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door...seated in Jude's restored vintage Mustang...standing outside his window...staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting--with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand...
My review: When I picked up a copy of Heart Shaped Box I had no idea that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son. I'm an absolutely huge Stephen King fan and like to pride myself on knowing his writing style inside out. By the time I'd read a couple of chapters of Heart Shaped Box it was clear that the writer had picked up a few quirks from Stephen King - it wasn't exactly his style but this and that just reminded me of his books, particularly his earlier stories.
I am impressed that Hill has gone it alone with his writing - he's always written under a pen name and always refers to his father as 'Dad', rather than 'my father, Stephen King', which it must have been tempting to do. He's definitely earned his popularity based on his great storytelling, rather than having his career handed to him because of his father. Yay for that.
Heart Shaped Box is an unsettling read and feels incredibly real, which I think is what makes it so creepy. There isn't much gore or blood - instead it's the psychological side of things that will linger with you after you finish the book. While Hill's metaphors got a little repetitive towards the end of the book, the characters were brought to life so well that I couldn't stop reading - I had to know how it all ended.
Oh, also, the dogs were brilliant - some of the most vibrant characters in the book. They were just fab. Look out for them if you decide you check out Heart-Shaped Box, they will make you smile and make you cry.
First line: 'Jude had a private collection.'
Total: 16/20 (B+)