Review: Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill

joe hill heart shpaed box

SYNOPSIS: Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre – his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, etc. – so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it.

The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker’s sanity. – via Goodreads

GRADE 8I am doing the synopsis thing because I really don’t want to have a spoiler out there, and anything that I say in a description just might do it. I would rather avoid it because really, this book is well worth the read. Another excellent read from Hill. Seeing as Heart-Shaped Box is his debut novel, it is extremely impressive. I was hooked from page one, and couldn’t put it down until I was done with it. I must admit that this one seems to have a lot of similarities with his father’s work. I don’t mean the story or the content so much as I am referring to the writing style. Heart-Shaped Box flows and it tells a great story, keeps you hooked from the off. I admit that I am officially a fan of Hill and his work. I absolutely adored Horns, so logically I decided to work through his other stuff, and it is rewarding. Jude presented an interesting character, that went from unlikable to someone I could understand, and on to someone who was actually not a bad person, but definitely in hiding, in his own shell. Georgia grew on me, too. Initially she is nothing worth writing home about, too bitchy, angry at the world, the whole shebang. The relationship that developed between them was bizarre – it started from being just sex and a little ridiculous, then blossoming into anger and love, and then moving on to something beautiful. I loved the concept of the nightroad, and Hill implemented this perfectly. There were scenes that ran chills through me because they were both creepy and executed perfectly (the best one being when Danny called Jude from the phone booth). It’s great for me, too, that music is referenced so much in this book. I love music, and being another book of his that references music so much, I take it that Hill, too, is passionate about it. The books flows wonderfully, and the plot moves along nicely, too. Nothing becomes too complicated, and Hill lets you in on the relevant information you need just before the mystery becomes frustrating, so he is very good at building and maintaining momentum. All I can say is that if you have never read Hill’s work before, or are interested, you really cannot go wrong with this.

19 thoughts on “Review: Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill

    1. It has a great story, and reels you in. Yep, there is a bit that just goes a bit wonky at the end, but it worked for the book (I think).

      I am so impressed to hear you’ve been reading 😉


  1. I’m thrilled to hear that you liked this one!!! Haven’t gotten to it yet, but it’s definitely high up on my list. I think I might ask for it for Christmas, actually. Great review, lady! NOW GO READ NOS4A2!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Once again, you consistently deliver a very well written review, that in my opinion, tells a reader just enough, without getting into spoilers, in order for them to determine if a particular book is worth their time. You allow the reader to discover, for themselves, all of the moments in the novel, that spoke to something inside you as a reader.

    I have been impressed with Hill’s work. I admit, I was a bit doubtful at first, before reading his stuff, because his dad has been my idol, a spot he co-shares with Rod Serling for many years now. I make no apologies for how much I love the writings of Stephen King. Salem’s Lot is my favorite novel of all time. I feel that some of King’s short stories have the ability to rival that of other author’s full length novels. I know people have taken to knocking his work in his later years, but “11/22/63,” I thought, was an outstanding book, that held my attention from its first page to its tear jerking conclusion. I am not going to get into spoilers, for those who want to read it, but I desperately wanted several things to turn out differently in that novel. I went back and re-read the ending pages a couple of times, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Jonathan! 🙂 I do try my very best.

      I can agree with you there completely. I was so scared Hill would be riding in on dad’s coattails, and not bring any real talent to the fore, but I was impressed. He is good, and he has his own style. I am so happy I started on his books, he is impressive.

      I have been meaning to get to 11/22/63 for so long now. Maybe I will get it if I see it in the bookshop across the street. I believe King is a consistent and solid writer, and as you say, even his short stories manage to carry the weight of a full length novel. He is amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

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