Heart-Shaped Box: A Novel
by Joe Hill
Review by Steve Sawicki
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061147937
Date: 01 February 2007 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Interestingly, we wound up with two views of Heart Shaped Box, one from each side of the Atlantic. Here's Steve Sawicki with the perspective from our shore....and you can follow this link to get John Berlyne's view from the UK (Heart-Shaped Box review by John Berlyne) Judas Coyne is an aging rocker with a penchant for collecting the macabre. He also collects young groupies, calling them by their state of origin rather than their real names. The band, a death metal rock combination, which brought him fame has disintegrated. A former member is dead and another just might as well be as far as Judas is concerned. Coyne spends his time wandering his estate, rebuilding an old Mustang, and recording the odd song for eventual release. One day, his personal assistant mentions that there's a ghost for sale on an internet auction site. Coyne is intrigued, bids for it and wins. A few days later UPS delivers a black, heart shaped box containing an old black suit. After checking it out, Coyne sticks the box and suit in the back of his bedroom closet. That night he sees the ghost and this begins the process of a haunting designed to deliver Coyne to spiritual justice.
This is Joe Hill's debut novel. Hill might be best known for his short fiction, some of which was collected in 20th Century Ghosts. The novel itself is a pretty simple affair, involving Coyne, his current girlfriend Marybeth Kimball, whom Coyne calls Georgia, a couple of dogs and the ghost. Hill writes in a very descriptive, visual fashion that is, at the same time, straightforward and uncomplicated. This is as much a story about relationships as it is about retribution, haunting and a search for life kept alive by a glimmer of hope and stubbornness. At the same time there are a number of surprises and an emotional arc that carries the work from beginning to end.
Joe Hill has created a very scary and very entertaining book that has engaging characters, an interesting story line that hangs together, and no few surprises to keep things interesting. It turns a gothic ghost story into a goth one while providing a fast paced and entertaining read.