Akhirnya’s CBR-III Review #5: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill (384 p.)

Heart Shaped Box is incredibly well written.  The premise – buying a ghost over the internet to add to a collection of the macabre on a whim, only to find out that ghosts are real and have agendas of their own – is an original take on the modern ghost story.  Nothing is quite what it seems and the story evolves at a natural pace, slowly revealing shocking truths until the very end.  Absolutely heartless characters are turned into those with the most heart, while those that were sympathetic are shown to be the lowest of the low.

Sounds great, right?

But I really didn’t dig the book at all.  Although I appreciated the change in the main character, it took me far too long to give a damn about the aging rock star Judas Coyne.  Because of that alone, was I not reading this for CBR, I never would have finished the book.  I found the fixation on the South – of course that’s the nest of abuse and… for lack of spoilers, other horrible things – to be trite. And finally,for a book that dealt with such doom and gloom, the ending was far too neatly packaged for my taste.

But I don’t think I’ll be giving up on Hill.  While this may not have been to my liking, the ideas are good, and I’ll be checking out his collection of short stories to see if they fare any better for me.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Akhirnya’s CBR-III Review #5: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill (384 p.)

  1. Even Stevens

    If you haven’t read his other book, Horns, it’s really good. I found it more relatable than Heart Shaped Box, although I did find this book to be pretty disturbing.

    • akhirnya

      Glad to hear something good about Horns – have it on order at the library, so should be getting my hands on it soon and be giving Hill another try.

  2. Az

    I agree, Horns was exceptionally good. For some reason, I was absolutely terrified by Heart Shaped Box. I can’t really explain why. It reminded me of Peter Straub’s Ghost Story (aka the most horrifying book I have ever read) in a way on which I can’t quite put my finger. I want to say tone: there is an undercurrent of menace to both books that completely freaked me out. I’m sorry I can’t be more coherent about it!

  3. I loved his novel Horns! I agree it was better than Heart Shaped Box but Heart Shaped Box gave me weird nightmares for about a week or so.

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