Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill

*** ½

Heart-Shaped Box

Cover of "Heart-Shaped Box: A Novel"

Cover of Heart-Shaped Box: A Novel

Author: Joe Hill

First Edition: 2000

Original language: English



Semi-retired heavy metal star Jude Coyne is somewhat fascinated by the macabre.  He has a collection including Aleister Crowley’s chess board, several paintings by John Wayne Gacy, a snuff film, and a trepanned skull.  When someone online offers to sell him a ghost, he can’t say no.  This admittedly bizarre but otherwise mundane transaction end up being the worst decision of Jude’s life.


“He was impossible to embarrass.  He didn’t know the meaning of shy.”

“They might have high-speed Internet connections in Baton Rouge, but in the little towns in the swamps north of Lake Pontchartrain, if you wanted a high-speed connection with the rest of the world, you souped up a car and got the fuck out.”

“Danny did not think coke and computers were anything alike.  But Jude had seen the way people hunched over their screens, clicking the refresh button again and again, waiting for some crucial if meaningless hit of information, and he thought it was almost exactly the same.”


I haven’t really read horror for a while, but realized that I love the genre.  I really liked this book and it actually managed to scare me a few times when I was reading at home by myself.  It was dark and spooky from the beginning and some of the images were vivid and creepy.  Even though I’m not a fan of heavy metal, I liked Jude and found him surprisingly relatable.  The heavy metal world was actually a perfect backdrop for the book.

Joe Hill at a book signing.

Joe Hill at a book signing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I also liked how Hill kept the tension throughout the book.  A couple of times I thought to myself, “ok, now what’s he going to do for the remaining ¾, ½?”  But he pulled it off quite nicely and there was actually structure to the novel, something that some horror writers seem to breeze past if not ignore completely.

Of course I read the book because Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son.  He even looks a lot like his father and his books are creepy in the same way.  I liked his style and found it a quick, easy read.   I wouldn’t re-read it, but I really enjoyed it for what it was.  Some people seemed to hate it, but I was entertained- and a little scared.


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