An aging death-metal rock god, Judas Coyne, is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals... a used hangman's noose... a snuff film. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as an item he learns is for sale on the Internet. For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by the deceased's restless spirit. Judas has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts - of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed - so what's one more?
But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, 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... staring out from his widescreen TV - dangling a gleaming razor blade on a chain from one hand...
Joe Hill's debut, Heart-Shaped Box, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. His second, Horns, was made into a film freakfest starring Daniel Radcliffe. His other novels include NOS4A2, and his #1 New York Times Best-Seller, The Fireman... which was also the winner of a 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Horror Novel.
He writes short stories too. Some of them were gathered together in his prize-winning collection, 20th Century Ghosts.
He won the Eisner Award for Best Writer for his long running comic book series, Locke & Key, co-created with illustrator and art wizard Gabriel Rodriguez.
He lives in New Hampshire with a corgi named McMurtry after a certain beloved writer of cowboy tales. His next book, Strange Weather, a collection of novellas, storms into bookstores in October of 2017.
When aging, retired rocker Judas Coyne buys a ghost on-line, he gets more than he bargained for, as the ghost, which arrives by way of a used suit in a heart-shaped box, is no blithe spirit. I was most reminded of Freddie Krueger, as the hostile ghost sets out to destroy Coyne and all those he holds dear. I was not ecstatic early on about the premise, as I believed it was insufficient to sustain a book of this length. Although I have read better horror books, this one turned out well enough. What makes it special though is that Joe Hill just happens to be the son of none other than Stephen King. The apple remains in the orchard. The guy has talent, and I expect there will be much more product in the years to come as he follows in daddy’s footsteps.
I read the book back in 2007. Hill has more than realized his potential since then, establishing himself as one of the premier writers of horror working today.
The cover of this book promises that you will be "haunted" and "startled," and that the book will even "visit you in your dreams."
Funny, as I read this "scary" novel, I couldn't help but think back to the time I read The Shining ... it was storming outside, it was 3AM and I was too afraid to put the book down, and I didn't care if I would end up wetting the bed because there was no way in hell I was going to get up and go to the bathroom. "Heart Shaped Box" also made me think back to other King novels that had me ready to piss myself with terror: Cujo, Salem's Lot, The Tommyknockers, etc. I even thought back to Red Dragon by Harris, the book that I couldn't read unless my boyfriend was there. When you're traumatized from what you've read, you know you've found a good horror author.
Right up to the last page of Heart Shaped Box, I kept waiting for something scary, and when that didn't happen, I kept thinking that horror should be left to the masters, that the reviews about this book were false advertizing, and that the only true horror writer is Stephen King.
Then I read that the author is King's son? Wow, if I were King I'd be disappointed in my kid.
Man, this thing reads like something an 8th grader wrote for his creative writing class. First of all, the fact that an ageing rock star buys a ghost on the net isn't even a new idea: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6651230/
Given that the story itself isn't even original, what else have we got here? Heh...
It's not scary, it's TOTALLY BORING, it's predictable (oh, let me guess, the depressed ex-stripper/groupie/20-something goth girl who's sleeping with a 50 year-old ex-rock star has a secret about her stepdad ... could it be molestation?? NO! I'M SHOCKED! WHAT A GENIUS PLOT TWIST!), and everything ends all happy, with smiles and rainbows and love and hugs ... and a few Care Bears, I'm sure.
Oh BLAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! I give it one star ... only for mentioning cool people like Nirvana, Ozzy, and Jackson Browne.
Guess what, my friends, I might have made the wrong reading choice to celebrate the horror week on Goodreads and Halloween month! Don’t get me wrong, I read so many works of Joe Hill and this book already get rusty and dusty for waiting inside the stomach of my tbr monster forever!
So I cut the cord and get the book into my hands even though it hurt my arms because it is heavier than dozen bricks. But long paged readings never scared me and I never cared to look like a member of wrestling team with my swollen biceps! ( they look like somebody regularly pumped air into them. I think I should wear sleeveless shirts for a long time!)
But here is the problem: the storyline of the book was so promising. A story circled around retired rocker who has a strange taste to collect things. And his late purchase was way too much he already bargained for: the guy just bought a ghost inside a heart shaped box! I know he is weirdest kind of shopaholic but even he didn’t deserve this kind of punishment!
The ghost is so adamant to ruin his life! It seems like a great short story topic but reading a book which has tons of pages was a little enthusiasm breaker.
This is like mash of popular horror movies, tv series and books. So many things have resemblances with the previous works of better written books, scripts, plays but it also reminded me of a puzzle with pieces are inserted at the wrong places. There are too many spooky ingredients which normally work so well with horror genre including ouija board, distorted mirrors, talking radios , scary spiritualists but they don’t create any effect to keep you in your toes.
The story’s procession too flat, too slow and bored you to death kind of frustrating! The twists can be predicted before they were written and conclusion is meh... nope, not my cup of black coffee!
So it failed my expectations. I was so excited to read something horrifying to give me nightmares but eventually I got long and peaceful naps during my reading because I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
So I’m giving my frustration two, nope, not the book I expected stars on my flashback Saturday and move on to my next, fingers crossed, better reading.
"The mad sometimes drilled holes in their own heads to let the demons out. To relieve the pressure of thoughts they could no longer bear. Jude understood the impulse. Each beat of his heart was a fresh and staggering blow felt in the nerves behind his eyes and in his temples. Punishing evidence of life."
Aging rock star Judas Coyne spends his retirement collecting morbid memorabilia, including a witch's confession, a hangman’s noose, a real snuff film and, after being sent an email directly about the item online, a dead man's funeral suit. Jude is informed by the dead man's daughter, that the old man's spirit is attached to the suit, such that Jude is effectively buying himself a ghost. Jude cannot pass up this creepy opportunity. The suit arrives in a heart-shaped box. Various odd occurrences cause Jude to realise that the ghost is deadly and is out to kill him and those around him.
This was my first time reading a Joe Hill novel and it didn't disappoint.
Disclaimer: I have watched many horror films in my lifetime and as a result there isn’t much that genuinely scares me anymore. Because of this, I personally wouldn’t call this book scary. However, it is incredibly creepy! There was one scene in particular, when the ghost started crawling….I was not having it lol. I was also creeped out by the appearances of the ghost at the start, just sitting, doing nothing….waiting. The tension had me on edge.
The “haunting” in this novel was relentless and by a third of the way in I thought to myself "when is this going to slow down!” This ghost was very persistent. If you enjoy ghost stories and brutal fighting scenes, I think you'd like this one.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It’s a fantastic mix of horror and two love stories. It’s almost a coming-of-age for Jude, except he's 35+ years past the point of coming-of-age.
Heart-Shaped Box is a well-written story with an interesting premise and I highly recommend it. I’m looking forward to reading NOS4R2 which I also own by Joe Hill.
It took me more than a month to bring myself to write this review and I think this alone is very telling. I just cannot find the absolute slightest motivation to talk about this book, because quite frankly, I just hated it. I don't think I have ever read a book I found more boring and ridiculous. The guy buys a ghost and no one is seriously fazed when bad and weird things start happening?? Everyone was so incredibly two-dimensional. Every effort to try to bring some suspense and excitement into the story was ruined by being either written in a very dull or over the top way. Sometimes I seriously felt like I was reading a comedy and laughed out loud. This is one of those books I wish I hadn't wasted my time on. I bought it at a library sale for 2€ and even that amount was far too expensive for what I got in return.
My third Joe Hill, and my second reading of one of his novels. I'm afraid once again I am underwhelmed, maybe having read Locke & Key Omnibus 1 twice before reading one of his books, my expectations were way too high? I should add other than Odd Thomas I can't stand ghost stories.
A rock star in his 50s, who collects the macabre, is notified of a 'ghost' for sale. He can't resist the temptation, and purchases the ghost! His much younger girlfriend and his wonder(!) dog's lives will never be the same! That this book took me nearly 4 months to finish... says it all for me. A just passable 5 out of 12 from me.
This is the first book written by Joe Hill that I have read, and the fact that it was his debut is pretty impressive to me. I picked it up for a song awhile ago- never being sure if I was going to read it or not- I was worried that I wasn't going to connect with Jude and Georgia. I don't always have to like the people I am reading about, but in a ghost story- I find I really have to warm up to the main characters in order to root for their survival- As it turns out they were pretty easy to like, and I was in their corner cheering them on right to the very end.
Judas Coyne is an aging retired rock star in his 50s. After a horrible childhood and losing two of his band members- one to suicide, the other to AIDS, Jude very rarely finds joy in life. He lives a somewhat reclusive existence in Piecliff, New York with his girlfriend- Georgia/Marybeth- a smart-mouthed goth ex-exotic dancer with a heart of gold, and his two loyal dogs- Bon and Angus.
His taste for the morbid- lead him to collect weird, wacky and downright twisted objects- a hangman's noose, a witch's confession, John Wayne Gacy's "art", and a snuff film...just to name a few. Danny- Jude's assistant is always keeping an eye out for anything he thinks his boss would be interested in, and sure enough while browsing online- he spots one. A ghost for sale. The ghost of a sweet old man -Craddock McDermott- a self proclaimed hypnotist and loving step-father to the online seller -Jessica. Jude is intrigued and on a whim puts in the top bid of $1000 guaranteeing him the purchase, and before long an item is delivered to his door- the suit of a dead man in a HEART-SHAPED BOX...
Soon after the suit arrives- things for Jude and Georgia get out of hand, and they quickly realize that buying a ghost sight unseen probably wasn't such a grand idea. Craddock's ghost is faaaaaar from sweet, and Jessica's real motive behind the sale becomes crystal clear. Revenge.
Is HEART-SHAPED BOX perfect???
...but it is an entertaining, gruesome, sometimes terrifying read- and a great beginning for the talented writer Joe Hill.
It wasn't the book, it's more of what is going on with the world and Covid-19 right now. If I had read this book last year, it wouldn't have affected me as much with the heavy topics and sense of dread I had every time I picked up the book. I can agree now that mood reading is very real!
Heart-Shaped Box has some uncomfortable topics in it so it's not for the faint of heart.
I'm really impressed that this was Joe Hill's first book. His imagination, characterization and sense of dread is out of this world. Plus, this guy can write an epic and evil character. Kudos Joe Hill on making me hate Craddock James McDermott with a passion!
Definitely read Heart-Shaped Box if you can handle horror books at the moment! This book definitely bought the horror for sure!
Not just any ghost, imagine a ghost with a unique set of skills like advanced interrogation skills and deep hypnotic abilities, which he acquired during his long and diverse career.
That's right, kids. The ghost in this story is Liam Neeson of Ghosts. Well, at least he started out to be Liam Neeson of ghosts, and he will find you.... and he will kill you.
But who is going to be his victim?
Meet our hero, Judas Coyne, a 54-year-old rockstar with a very rockstar-y lifestyle. Unfortunately, one of the young girls he dumped will be death for him.... Unless his dogs save him.
Wait, what dogs?
Exactly! For me, this one felt like half cooked tale at its best. Maybe it is the combination of lackluster techno scares and slasher style finale that tipped me into the abyss of boredom. I did like the character of Judas Coyne because he was something new, but the rest of the characters were dull, including the supposedly scary ghost. The Liam Neeson of ghost's introduction was a decent affair: Silent, sinister and brutal.... but then he started talking.... and I understood his greatest power: He will talk you to death, quite literally.
The most of the scares are unintentionally funny, like employing Internet skills and Emails to scare people and other great hits. They were just silly. And on the top of that, Hill's plotting style gave me a feeling that he is making up the story along the way.
For those of you who don't know, Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King. And, yip, the old man gave him some tips, that's for sure.
One of the reasons Stephen King has inspired just about every horror writer for decades, is that he writes small town 'America' better than anybody. I say 'America', because I have never been to the USA and I grew up in a city, but his stories puts me right there, as if I grew up and live in a small town. Hill shows signs of the same type of voice.
This is a ghost story, but even more so, it is a growth story. I can recommend this to any horror reader out there.
When aging rocker Judas Coyne buys a ghost on the internet, he doesn't take it seriously. That is, until a musty old suit shows up in a heart-shaped box. Soon, Judas begins to see the horrifying spectre of a man wearing the suit. Things take a sinister turn and people start dying so Judas and his girlfriend Georgia go looking for the woman who sold him the suit, the sister of his deceased ex-girlfriend. Can Judas stop the man in the suit from destroying his life?
After NOS4A2, I thought it best to tackle some of Joe Hill's earlier books. His debut novel did not disappoint.
Heart-Shaped Box is a tale of revenge from beyond the grave. Craddock was a suitably creepy antagonist. When your enemy can control your mind, how can you stop him? The powerlessness that Judas felt for a good portion of the story made the story that much more effective.
Hill's writing is like his dad's, back when his dad was still emulating the late Richard Matheson and John D. MacDonald. It flows very well and doesn't get overly flowery. When a ghost is driving people mad, the prose doesn't have to be purple to be enjoyable.
Judas and Georgia wound up being much more developed than I originally thought. As Judas' background was explored, I understood how he got to where he was. Same with Georgia, aka Marybeth.
Joe's about as nice to his main characters as his old man. Judas and Georgia went through the wringer on the way to the end of the story and there was no magic to fix their grievous injuries.
Since Judas is an aging rock star, I expected a lot more references to music and musicians. I liked that his dogs were named after members of AC/DC. There were a disproportionate amount of Trent Reznor references, which I found odd since Judas is in his mid-50's. I'll chalk that up to Nine Inch Nails being some of Joe Hill's favorite music.
It was creepy but didn't keep me up at night. 4 stars.
The scariest thing about Joe Hill's debut book, Heart Shaped Box, isn't the actual story, but what lies between the front cover and the inside title page of the Harper paperback version. In it, over 18 reputable newspapers and acclaimed writers attempt to prop up little Stevie King, Jr's Joe Hill's novel with some seriously excellent reviews. Scary because all these awesome reviews lead you, the reader, to expect that Heart Shaped Box is the next BIG thing in horror.
Only it's not.
Not by a long shot.
It must be tough to be an aspiring writer when your dad is Stephen King. It must be even tougher when you decide to make your first published novel a horror one. That's alot of pressure, and unfortunately, Hill fails IMO. Perhaps he should have sharpened his pen with chic lit. a-la Nicholas Sparks, but then where would he have fit in all the tats, genital piercings and the snuff film? Not to mention the 2-dimensional characters who you never grow to care about, or the horror that fails to materialize over 351 looooong pages.
Hill might have what it takes to eventually be a credible horror writer, but he doesn't do himself any favors having such a glowing cadre of book reviews for a book so undeserving of them. It may lead the reader to suspect daddy calling in some favors....
Judas Coyne a retired death metal rock star likes to collect unique horror items and he is always looking for something new to add to his collection. He learns that there is a dead man's suit for sale on the internet that has a ghost attached to it. So how can he refuse to not add that to his collection as that would be an unique addition, so he buys it without a second thought.
Though when the suit arrives in a "heart shaped box" and Judas tries to figure out how he is going to display it the suit becomes "active" as now Judas is being stalked by the ghost and when Judas decides to find out more about the ghost stalker he learns more than he wanted to know about the suit's previous owner which will send him on a roller coaster ride into hell!
That is about all I can give on a small backstory without giving away spoilers, so if you want to know more of what happens then you will need to read this book!
This was my first time reading author, Joe Hill, and yes I know I probably should have read him sooner but there is just so many authors to step into that I just had not got around to reading him yet - till now.
This was a great spooky story and I was captured right away with the premise of a ghost attached to an article of clothing. I loved the character Judas and felt bad for him as he tried to endure the ghost along with the haunting in his house. The story kind of reminded me of a few true ghost stories I have read about "haunted objects" and how they affected people that bought them.
This book was a fast page turner as it takes off right away - there is hardly any world building as the author, Joe Hill just throws you right into the story and once the story fully kicks in I was holding my breath through some of it as I wasn't sure what would be happening next! Looking forward to reading more by this author and I felt that even though he has his own style of writing I could feel that "King family" vibe to it. :) Giving this book four "Haunting Hell" stars!
المزيد من قصص الأموات، الأرواح والأشباح..والتنويم المغناطيسي 'كل هذا مغلف في 'علبة بشكل قلب
من ينكر ان أبن الوز عوام 'أبن اديب الرعب 'مخوفاتي
انه جو هيل ، أو جوزيف 'هيل ستورم' كينج، ابن اشهر كتاب ادب الرعب المعاصر، ستيفين كينج...و الشبح او "علبة بشكل قلب" هي اول رواياته الطويلة
كرواية اولي هي جيدة جدا فقط بقليل من العيوب من وجهة نظري، لم أبدأ بالتعاطف مع الشخصيات سوي بمنتصف الرواية، بل ان البطل نفسه لم اتعاطف معه سوي في الثلث الأخير
الثلث الاول والثلث الأخير ضغي عليهما مشاهد الحركة والرعب اكثر من الحوار...فكانا الاضعف روائيا -بالأخص النهاية السينمائية والتي اعجبني جانب منها ولكن شعرت بشئ من الاستسهال بها-
ولكن ، يحسب للرواية أن مشاهد الرعب بها الكثير من القوة المرعبة بسبب السينمائية في الوصف...واختيار تلك المشاهد التي يها رموز مرعبة تسبب القشعريرة الباردة كالأشباح التي علي عيونها غمامة "شخبطات!" خارجية غريبة... الجروح التي تسبب ضررا جسديا مقرقا أكثر مما ينبغي عليها ... رؤيا الرجال الذين يسيرون للخلف... المذياع الذي يصدر من مذيع النشرة او الخطيب جمل مرعبة كأنه شبحا يعيش معك
ناهيك انك لن تتمكن ، مهما فصلت قابس الكهرباء" إسكاته وأطفاء المذياع
ألم أقل لك ان أبن الوز عوام 'أبن اديب الرعب 'مخوفاتي
ربما "مخوفاتي" ليس باللقب اللائق ، فقد يطلقه البعض علي من يكتبون مشاهد مرعبة مستوحاه من حصيلتهم السينمائية المتواضعة لافلام الرعب ، مع كتابات د.احمد خالد توفيق وربما النسخة المترجمة المختصرة لدراكولا لحشو قصة تافهة تصلح لفيلم مرعب من الفئة "بي" ، أو قصة غير مفهومة متحذلقة تدعي العمق
حسنا، الامر ليس هكذا برواية جو هيل الأولي...رغم ان الرواية فعلا بها مشاهد سينمائية كثيرة مرعبة قد تكون شاهدتها في فيلم ما...او ان آخر سطور الرواية كخاتمة فيلم مرعب من الفئة "بي" حقا
لكن بين طيات الرواية رموز ادبية خفية تعبر عن روائي لامع حقيقي يولد هنا
☆ لاحظ بالبداية كيف ان في اعلان "الشبح" ان البائعة تقول أنه شبح مسالم تصرفاته تشبه تماما الرجال الكبار العجزة الذين لا يريدون سوي البقاء في كرسيهم المفضل تحت النافذة للشعور بضوء الشمس -حتي وإن كان يسبب اختفاء جزئي لهم
ومع ذلك يرغب الأبناء دوما التخلص منهم -الاباء العجزة بالطبع وليس الأشباح
☆ ارتباط مطربي الميتال بالشيطان -حذفت الترجمة العربية كلمة لوسيفر/الشيطان من الجمل القليلة التي وردت بها- والحياة اللاهية الجنسية المختلفة ، وشكلهم ونظرة المجتمع لهم ... تم تقديم هذا الجزء بشكل ممتاز علي مدار الرواية وليس من خلال "جود" البطل فحسب، بل فرقته كلها والفتيات التي تطاردهن بالحفلات
☆ لاحظ أيضا التطور الرهيب في شخصية "جود"، مطرب الميتال اللاهي الذي يقوم بتبديل الفتيات حسب مزاجه ، وكيف صار هكذا بسبب عقدة والده المستبد وأمه الخانعة..وهل سيتغير...و كيف سيكون مصيره و إن كنت تعتقد أن تغيره سيكون بسبب الشبح أو اللعنة فحسب، فقم بإعادة قراءة الرواية
-الجزء الثاني من الرواية، "الرحلة" هو سبب بداية فهم أبعاد الشخصية وبداية تطورها للتعاطف ��عها بعد ذلك بالجزء الثالث-
☆القصص الجانبية للشخصيات الرئيسية أيضا احتوت قضايا مهمة كالتحرش الجنسي بالقاصرات ، الجروح النفسية بالطفولة ، الشذوذ والانتحار ، عمليات التنويم المغناطيسي في حرب فيتنام
ربما جزء التنويم المغناطيسي من أكثر الأجزاء المرعبة بالنسبة لي لانها من المخاوف الشخصية لي منذ الطفولة والافلام العربية عنها، بل وأجاد المؤلف في جعلها مقبضة جدا والافضل انه قدم كيف يمكنك التغلب عليها شيئا ما بين سطور الرواية
وكل هذه القصص الفرعية تصب في القصة الكبيرة، بل وهناك تماثلات ممتازة بين الشخصيات بالأخص بين الفتاة الحالية للمطرب "ماري-بث / جورجيا" و الفتاة السابقة المنتحرة "آنا / فلوريدا" جعلت القصة تزداد غموضا وحيرة حتي النهاية
☆ ارتباط الكلاب بعالم الأرواح والأشباح تم تقديمه ايضا بشكل تفصيلي ممتاز
و جاء بشكل مفاجئ بالجزء الاول "الكلب الأسود" ليكون مهما بعد ذلك بسير الاحداث واعجبني جدا ربط فكرة الروح السرية للكلاب بالمعتقدات القديمة عن الساحرات وحيوانتها
يبدو أن المؤلف وابيه مهتمان جدا بالروح الغامضة بالكلاب
عندي حق إذن بقولي أن أبن الوز عوام 'أبن اديب الرعب 'مخوفاتي
و جو هيل مخوفاتي فعلا...هذا واضحا بروايته الاولي التي جائت في علبة بشكل قلب
أعني ؛ تجد بها مكالمة علي الهاتف الأرضي من شخص ميت لم يعلم بعد انه قد مات التليفزيون يعرض نقل مباشر لجريمة قتل وانتحار دموي توفي فيه البطل وصديقته...أمام عينيه امور مرعبة تحدث في مقهي عام أمام الزبائن وفي وضح النهار ومشاهد دموية بشعة لم ينج منها الشخصيات..والحيوانات
ولكنها أيضا رواية ينضج بها روائي عن العودة للماضي... وأرتياد الذكريات الأليمة ... تصحيح اخطاء الماضي .. و تقبل القدر فعاجلا ام آجلا ... سيأتي الموت
ففي النهاية ، صحيح أن أبن الوز عوام 'أبن اديب الرعب 'مخوفاتي لكنه مخوفاتي بدرجة روائي جيد حقا
With relentlessly good characterization, this debut horror novel by the now-firmly-established powerhouse of Joe Hill rocks one hell of a good ghost story.
I have a thing for stories about aging rockers. I don't know what it is. They're just so pathetic and glorious and full of redemptive possibilities and gloriousness. :)
In this case, he's just built such a gruesome persona over the years and he's pretty much any horror-writer's dream rocker. You know, like Ozzy, but more like Rob Zombie or a bit like any 70's glam punker. I digress.
He gets himself in trouble by buying a ghost, but it's mostly a con and the ghost is out to get revenge on him, specifically.
Throw in a ton of cool reveals and a lot of willpower, realism, and clear-headed common sense native ONLY to the purveyors of the macabre, and we've got a deliciously stewy no-nonsense novel focused on getting shit done. And all those character reveals did wonders for me. I fell in love with these people. :)
I think it's fair to say I'll be able to pick up any of Joe's novels from now on and be pretty certain I'll have a great time. I'm very happy about this. I never need to read one of his blurbs again. :)
The Publisher Says: Aging death-metal rock legend Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals...a used hangman's noose...a snuff film. But nothing he possesses is as unique or as dreadful as his latest purchase off the Internet: a one-of-a-kind curiosity that arrives at his door in a black heart-shaped box...a musty dead man's suit still inhabited by the spirit of its late owner. And now everywhere Judas Coyne goes, the old man is there—watching, waiting, dangling a razor blade on a chain from his bony hand.
My Review: Jude "Judas" Coyne, born Justin Cowzynski to a iggerunt, abusive pig-farmin' Louisiana daddy and a pale non-entity of a mama, flees the scene of the crime called childhood and becomes an angry, hate-spewin', groupie-usin' death metal star. Now he's 54 and feeling his years, his losses, and his energy waning. He's such a charmer that he doesn't remember the names of the girls he uses, calls 'em instead by the states they came from. Georgia, his current squeeze, is half his age (duh) a Goth chick (duh), and possessed of the most innocent and incongruous real name in horror fiction: Marybeth. Danny, the token gayboy who functions as Jude's annoying, chirpy business-runner, runs across an item for Jude's burgeoning collection of the weird and esoteric: A ghost. An actual ghost, for sale on some specifically-not-eBay auction site (wonder what happened there?); Jude, when Danny shows him the listing, clicks the "Buy NOW $1,000" button, ends the auction, and a few days later a big, black heart-shaped box arrives with a natty old suit in it.
No really, the only word is hijinks. Scary-lookin' old men with too few teeth. Big brush-runnin' V8 Chevy trucks that aren't really there and no one's drivin' 'em. Suicides that are, and suicides that really aren't. Child molestation across the generations. Grandmothers and aunts and mamas galore, a visit to the nightroad (aka "Highway to Hell" oh heck like I could resist the heavy metal wordplay), an encounter with the golden door that solves many problems, and proof positive that dogs are superior to cats in every conceivable measure and circumstance.
Mandatory legal disclaimer: Absolutely no clichés were harmed in the making of this book.
Reading it passed a pleasant five hours. I liked it fine. Not one single major structural flaw that I saw. Fewer typos than most modern books, no unintentional bad grammar that I can recall (and I recall grammar boo-boos real well), so all in all not bad. Nothing I'll ever read again, but not bad at all.
Buddy-read with some of my faves from the Non-Crunchy Bunch coming February 2016.
This should be a sweet little gem of a story for right around Valentine's day, no?!
I’ve never been a very good ghost story reader. I think a fundamental element of being spooked out by ghost stories begins in either a belief or a lack of DISbelief in ghosts.
I have never believed in ghosts, not even as a child around a campfire. I am missing that thundering fear of not knowing how and what could or could not pass over from the realm of the dead. That being said I enjoyed Heart-Shaped Box for all that it IS a ghost story, despite this flaw in my spook-history.
Jude: (the aged rocker, with a dark past and darker music)
- Actually this is Rob Zombie, obviously, but this is how I pictured Jude
Marybeth “Georgia”: (the young dark-haired Goth girl with the mysteriously unpleasant past)
Anna “Florida”: (the dead Goth ex with mental health problems)
Craddock: (Stepdaddy-DEAREST, the ghost after revenge.)
Let’s get my grievances out of the way first, shall we?
The pacing of this novel is AWKWARD AS FUCK! It can be very inconsistent and jumbled up to create unnecessary confusion and headache. I also found the characterization lacking in a major way for about half of this novel, and when it did show up (passed the half way point) the personality of two of the main players were grossly stereotypical.
Overall I found this novel a delightfully deranged read with characters I don’t especially care for but still find interesting enough to enjoy. It was quite reminiscent of Dean Koontz, with the supernatural laced in grotesquery and very human horror, and that is a wonderful thing for me. I LOVED Koontz when I was in high school, so when I say something reminds me of that style it is always a good thing.
My biggest complaint is that
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“Los fantasmas, al final, siempre le alcanzan a uno, y no hay manera de cerrarles las puertas, Pueden atravesarlas” "Llegaban a él como huérfanos errantes, hijos perdidos de grandes y venerables familias musicales. Se le acercaban en forma de canciones anteriores al fonógrafo, cantos populares de los bares, lamentos de las planicies desiertas, temas perdidos de Chuck Berry. Jude los vestía de negro y les enseñaba a gritar" 3.5* En cuanto a la originalidad e imaginación no defrauda, de hecho cumple con creces. En esta, su primera novela, nos regala muy buenos pasajes. Abordando lo sobrenatural, pero con un trasfondo muy mundano y cotidiano (definitivamente mucho mas escalofriante). Sin embargo algunos detalles conspiran un poco en el resultado final... Se puede conceder que los personajes principales caigan mal, que tomen malas decisiones, todo si es en post de la historia. Pero considero que la misma pedía que al menos tuvieran un poco mas de carisma, carácter y actitud. Aunque es verdad que estos atraviesan cierta evolución a lo largo de la historia y que uno puede llegar a entender algunos motivos y tal vez empatizar un poco. Hay algunos sin sentidos, inclusive para este contexto. Por citar un ejemplo: Jude, el protagonista, colecciona objetos "ocultistas", "macabros", al punto que tiene el tablero de ajedrez con el que jugaba Aleister Crowley cuando era niño. Sin embargo no tiene una tabla de OUIJA, y casi se sorprende y se horroriza cuando ve una.
Y como prácticamente parte de un capricho mio, me hubiera gustado que explotaran mas todo el asunto del rock y el heavy metal. Le hubiera aportado mas "mística" a la historia. Porque mas aya de los nombres de los perros "Angus y Bon"(Angus Young y Bon Scott) y "Jimmy y Robert"(Jimmy Page Y Robert Plant) y apenas un par de pequeños detalles mas al respecto.
Helluva debut from this author. The subject matter is heavy, really heavy, and long run honestly is more about the human element than the supernatural hence the rating.
Not a bad book, the spooky parts were great and the story as a whole is good stuff. It's just not as much horror as I thought. Still there are plenty of 'on your feet moments' and it reads very easily.
I had pretty big expectations for this novel, since it was somewhat of a happening in the horror genre and was praised by writers such as Harlan Coben and Neil Gaiman. I was pretty disappointed. There is not a cliche that has not been used in this book, and not a single plot twist that I was not able to predict. It's a mish mash of things from various horror novels and movies - the protective dogs, the ouija board, the evil spiritualist, dead in mirrors, talking radios... The characters are unlikable. That in itself wouldn't be a problem, if they weren't also paper-thin. The I-do-not-give-a-crap ageing rockstar, full of cash but without substance, and his beautiful-but-emotionally-damaged sidekick, who also happens to be shallow as a cardboard. The only sympathetic character gets offed early in the story, and we don't hear much from him since.
The whole thing is extremely boring and not even remotely scary. The ghost that haunts our protagonists is literally a smelly old man whom they ignore and walk around. Yeah, because that's what you do when there's a ghost near you.
I can't help but think that Joe Hill set out to write a bestseller that would guarantee him an audience, and what if they were some hipser kids that buy their leather coats at hot topic and have just gotten their ears pierced. They obviously must like to read about goths, contemporary rock music (Trent Reznor is mentioned at least 5 times! My Chemical Romance! even Coldplay, if the previous two are too hardcore), snuff films and the male lead getting a hard-on while he beats his "girlfriend". I'm sure their parents would buy them this book. And black nail polish.
The story slowwwwly has to build to some sort of a climax, yes? A shattering finale that would be a huge pay off for all the things the reader had to endure. But, um, none of this happens here. The end is sudden and sugary, all is well and all will be well. After three hundred long and boring pages I'd expect something more, but it never happened.
Were some strings pulled to publish Heart Shaped Box? I don't know. But as a debut, it's stunningly unimpressive and offers absolutely no new additions to the genre, and even no classy variations on previously explored topics and themes. It's boring and forgettable, predictable and unoriginal. Joe Hill isn't able to overcome the influences and cliches that flood this work; that would be all right, but he also isn't able to make them his own. Heart Shaped Box is not memorable and will be forgotten in years to come, and I think that if Joe wasn't the son of Stephen it wouldn't even be published.
I don't think I quite knew what I was getting into when I picked up this book. I don't know what I thought I was going to read, but it wasn't this. So a warning to you: this book, or at least the beginning of it, is pretty freaky. I'm not a wimp. I grew up on Goosebumps and Scary Stories by Alvan Schwartz, graduating on to Christopher Pike and various R.L. Stine young adult novels. I also love scary movies of all sort, so I'm not one easily freaked out. But this novel was pretty creepy, or at least the beginning.
Perhaps it's the concept and the description of the ghost that is unnerving. Maybe it's also because I was sort of caught off guard by what I was reading. But whatever it was I was freaked out and loving the book. The whole concept of the novel was unique.
At times I found myself wanting to give Joe Hill a thesaurus and a phrase book, because he kept using the same descriptions over and over again. I think it would have also helped him in making things a little clearer. It seemed he was having a little difficulty fleshing out plot points at moments. I can't really think of any specific examples, but you'll come across them as you read it.
The end seemed really just swept up. Not really making too much sense in relation to the story. It seemed like Hill just wanted to quickly wrap it up, no matter how many questions it either raised or left unanswered.
But besides those minor flaws, I gobbled this book up really fast. I wanted to know everything that was going on. Something kept me riveted throughout the whole story. That's why I'm keeping my rating at a B, despite some of the problems I pointed out. I'm also interested in reading some of Hill's other works. It was his way of telling this ghost story and the type of ghost story it was that made me interested. Overall? Pretty good read. Entertaining. Best part? The dogs, because they weren't just animals in the background, they were actual characters, very entertaining and loving ones.
Want a quick, good, scary story? Here's your next read.
It was fun taking this ride down the night road again, this time on audio.
I was not crazy about the narrator, nor the musical bits in between the chapters, but the story itself is still good, though maybe not quite as good as I remembered. Still, Craddock and his creepy eyes remain scary AF.
OK, so I need to get back to reviewing, because I'm staring to fall behind again, and it's messing with my OCD. Plus, I feel like my initial reaction is a good thing to get down right away, since so often I find myself changing my opinion of a novel, and it's always fun to go back and read what I wrote before I had time to mull it over.
I read this one really fast. This is the third novel I have read of Hill's, and it did not disappoint. I'm supposed to be reading this as a buddy read on Instagram, but I literally could not put it down, and before I knew it I was done. I'm still fully prepared to talk about it though, and I can't wait to see what the other girls in my bookclub think.
So far I would rank Hill's novels with NOS4A2 first, this second, and The Fireman third, which I pretty much eviscerated on here, but may have been a little hard on, in retrospect. The Fireman was my introduction to Hill, and I should have started long ago with these other two. Hindsight, right?
Heart-Shaped Box is a creepy page turner. Initially the main characters, Jude an aging rockstar and his girlfriend of the moment Georgia, are not very likable characters, but Hill has a knack for characters, (like his father), and he had me really rooting for these two by the end of the novel.
I'm going to keep this spoiler free, but if you enjoyed NOS4A2, you will probably like this one as well. Hill is quickly becoming an author that I enjoy very much.
THE DEFENSE - The prose is very gripping. - Many genuinely creepy moments. - Frequent musical references add a little extra spice to the story.
THE PROSECUTION - The main characters are rather bland. - Dialogue is often dry and tedious. - Some attempts to be scary teeter over to the "laughably-bad" side (the ghost rising out of a candy box and even reaching back in for his hat comes to mind).
THE VERDICT I found this to be a good ghost story, just not a great one. But in all fairness, lots of people liked this book more than me, so if ghost stories are your thing, I'd still recommend giving this one a shot.
From this point forward, I shall refrain from the HEART-SHAPED BOX, heart-shaped candies, and anything else in the shape of a heart that is sent through the mail or easily consumable. As my wife can attest, this will put a significant strain on the candy industry, to the point that they may be forced to shut down operations, if only temporarily. But how could I not when this novel totally freaked me out. I have three suits, and I’m not sure I want to wear any of them ever again. Even the gray pinstriped one that makes me look like a player—or maybe not—shall hang in the closet for the rest of his days. Sure, I’ve probably gone a bit off the New Mexican reservation, but I do believe in hyperbole about as much as I believe in ghosts, and there comes a point when I need to stand up for myself, or better yet, I’ll just run in the opposite direction. That’ll be faster, and it might even save me some time.
Seriously, though, there is evil among us, and I’m not referring to Justin Bieber or The Jonas Brothers. There’s voodoo and witchcraft and haunted spirits, not the kind I would imbibe, and a slow build terror that nearly consumes every page. The characters proved nearly as lifelike and realistic as they did horrific, and this novel showcases why revenge goes down about as easily as antifreeze. And it’s hard to execute a group hug if you have a knife sticking out of your thigh along with about three more sticking out of your back while you’re caught staring in open-mouthed horror as a Chevy Suburban T-bones you at 40 MPH. If you happen to live through it, though, you’ll peel out faster than a cheetah chasing a gazelle, with your metal screeching and grinding all the way home.
Judas Coyne may listen to more Trent Reznor than is humanly possible and defile more Goth groupies than an entire heavy metal band, but he does have a heart, even if it’s a bit black and slightly tainted from misuse, and Marybeth, aka Georgia, may shrink to the size of a scarecrow, but that doesn’t mean she’s lost all her fight and vinegar.
If you like your revenge served cold, and your evil served piping hot, your characters creepy with more than enough realism to seal the deal, and you prefer a slow burn before all the hoopla and singing and fireworks, then this is one tale that’ll probably keep you flipping the pages.
Scary - full of ghosts and gore and really gross stuff. Definitely a horror story and one which never lets up from start to finish. Jude, the main character, is strangely attractive despite everything and I really wanted him and Mary Beth to stay alive. I also wanted Angus and Bon to stay alive. I don't think it is a spoiler to say that some did and some didn't make it to the end. Joe Hill has the same warped imagination as his father and the final scene in Jude's father's bedroom is a great example of this. Did I say already that there is lots of gross stuff? A great read:)
Jude is a member of a broken up metal band,; now living on farm land with his girlfriend, manager and two dogs. He sees the perfect opportunity to bring some excitement into his life when his manager shows him an online posting for a ghost for sale.
Once his purchase arrives, Jude quickly realizes he is in for much more than he bargained for as sightings of the old man begin, as well as demons from the past being brought to life for all members of the household.
In the style I've grown to adore from Joe Hill; a sprinkling of out right terrifying scenes interlaced with profound ideas and plot to keep you thinking for days.