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Heart-Shaped Box [Paperback]

Joe Hill
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 15 2007 GollanczF.
'Buy my stepfather's ghost' read the e-mail. So Jude did. He bought the dead man's suit, delivered in a heart-shaped box, because he wanted it: because his fans ate up that kind of story. It was perfect for his collection: the genuine skulls and the bones, the real honest-to-God snuff movie, the occult books and all the rest of the paraphanalia that goes along with his kind of hard/goth rock. But the rest of his collection doesn't make the house feel cold. The bones don't make the dogs bark; the movie doesn't make Jude feel as if he's being watched. And none of the artefacts bring a vengeful old ghost with black scribbles over his eyes out of the shadows to chase Jude out of his home, and make him run for his life ...

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Stoker-winner Hill features a particularly merciless ghost in his powerful first novel. Middle-aged rock star Judas Coyne collects morbid curios for fun, so doesn't think twice about buying a suit advertised at an online auction site as haunted by its dead owner's ghost. Only after it arrives does Judas discover that the suit belonged to Craddock McDermott, the stepfather of one of Coyne's discarded groupies, and that the old man's ghost is a malignant spirit determined to kill Judas in revenge for his stepdaughter's suicide. Judas isn't quite the cad or Craddock the avenging angel this scenario makes them at first, but their true motivations reveal themselves only gradually in a fast-paced plot that crackles with expertly planted surprises and revelations. Hill (20th Century Ghosts) gives his characters believably complex emotional lives that help to anchor the supernatural in psychological reality and prove that (as one character observes) "horror was rooted in sympathy." His subtle and skillful treatment of horrors that could easily have exploded over the top and out of control helps make this a truly memorable debut. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Hill, two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award for his short fiction, delivers a terrifyingly contemporary twist to the traditional ghost story with his first novel. Aging rock star Judas Coyne is a collector of bizarre and macabre artifacts: a used hangman's noose, a snuff film, and rare books on witchcraft. When he purchases a suit billed in an online auction as the haunted clothes of a recently deceased man, Coyne finds more than he bargained for. Everywhere he looks he sees the twisted spirit of an old and evil man following him and dangling a deadly razor on a chain. He learns that the suit belonged to Craddock McDermott, the stepfather of a former lover who committed suicide shortly after Coyne tossed her out of his life. McDermott, a professional hypnotist prior to his death, swore to destroy Coyne's rock-star life of self-indulgence to avenge her death. The behind-the-scenes look at stardom alongside the frightening pyrotechnics of McDermott's ghost will draw in teens who really enjoy a good scare. But like all good ghost stories, Hill also crafts a deftly plotted mystery as McDermott's true motivations and powers unfold. The depth of character hidden in the dark shadows of both men lifts what could otherwise be a formula supernatural thriller to an impressive debut.—Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly scary!! March 18 2007
Format:Hardcover
I was fortunate enough to read this book before I knew that Joe Hill was actually Stephen King's son. That was to my advantage, as I went into the book with no expectations. Having said that, had I known who Joe Hill was, and had I built up my expectations - they would have been surpassed. I absolutely loved this book. I thought I recognized the style - but to be honest it seemed more like Peter Straub than Stephen King. What a great surprise to find out the connection.

I made the unwise decision to start reading as I went to bed, and boy, that was a mistake. I was scared to death by the time the ghost made himself at home at Joe's house. I have a rocking chair in my bedroom in the corner and I had to actually move it out of the room and into the living room! Then, I couldn't sleep... I had to continue read the book until I could put the characters in a "safe place". I finished the book as the sun was coming up.

Heart Shaped Box has a great basis for good ghost story: Joe Hill buys a ghost off of an ebay type website. After the "ghost" arrives in the heart shaped box, Joe encounters the ghost of an old man who is obviously set on terrorizing Joe. It's during this period of time that you are introduced to Joe's Goth girlfriend, Georgia. We learn that Joe is an arrogant, self-centered jerk. Georgia encounters the ghost, Joe learns that the ghost is a man named Craddock, and he is the stepfather of one of Joe's old girlfriend, Florida. Florida seemingly committed suicide and Craddock is blaming Joe.

I enjoyed the book very much up to this point, and was truly freaked out by the ghost. However, after Georgia and Joe take off to meet Florida's sister and try to get rid of Craddock, I felt the book got trurly amazing. I fell in love with these characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kept me interested. Feb. 20 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was intrigued with the storyline and characters right away. Very impressed with his writing. I'm waiting for a good scare. No scare here.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Heart Shaped Box was a simple and original story with some terrific writing reminiscent of Joe Hill's own father, but the book failed to deliver anything remotely scary. Although it did explore some creative supernatural elements and mediocre plot twists, I guess I expected more horror. I did like that the relationships and behaviours of the characters seemed natural and not vain for the plot's sake. I felt myself caring about some of these characters amidst their tribulations. I would recommend this book but not as a horror novel but as more of a suspenseful thriller with a supernatural twist. 3 stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story May 8 2014
By Yarrow
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Loved this book-it was scary but still had a great story line, I could not put it down. Definitely recommend.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A really, really good story with a touch of horror. April 27 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Was genuinely surprised at how good of a story it turned out to be!! Was expecting a run-of-the-mill horror story.. however, i got a fantastic character driven novel with just a dash of horror. The characters literally felt "alive". On to NOS4A2!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars can't wait to read all his novels June 23 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
was looking for something different and like occult/horror novels. first page started out with a bang and did not let up till the last page.all characters were full of life even the dead ones (sic). the re were twists, turns , and surprises galore. i would highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for an excellent ghost story
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