April 23, 2011

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Title:  Heart-Shaped Box
Author:  Joe Hill
Format:  HC
Pages:  373
Genre:  Horror
Publisher:  William Morrow, 2007
ISBN-13:  978-0061147937
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "All the world is made of music.  We are all strings on a lyre.  We resonate.  We sing together."

Synopsis (Amazon):  Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman's noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can't help but reach for his wallet.

I will "sell" my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder. . . .

For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn't afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts—of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What's one more?

But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. 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 . . . standing outside his window . . . staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting—with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand. . . .

Review:  It was with a mix of excitement and trepidation that I began reading this book.  After all, this is Stephen King's son.  Would he be as good?  Would I find another author to adore as much as Mr. King within the pages of Heart-Shaped Box?  Would I wind up disappointed?

The answer to all three of the questions turned out to be no.  No, he is not as good as Stephen King.  He's good, but not even close to being as great as the King of Horror.  No, I didn't adore the book.  I liked it, but won't be putting it on my 'keeper' shelf.  It just wasn't that great.  But, it is fairly well-written and certainly original.  It had intense moments of true horror and sudden, surprising moments of humor, sentiment, and insight.  So, no, I wasn't disappointed.  This is a fine first novel.

The final question that I am only now asking myself is this:  Should Mr. Hill even be compared to or graded against his father's work?  Again, after thinking about it, my answer is no.  He's chosen to take a pen name, probably to keep from such comparisons and, one hopes, to keep from riding on his father's coattails.  As much as I wanted to be fair, it was hard for me not to make comparisons.

Back to the review of the story itself.  I especially enjoyed the musical references scattered throughout this novel.  It ended very close to happily ever after, perhaps even a little too tidily for my taste.  In the final analysis, I think it was a good read and I will look forward to reading this author's next book.

Rating:  6 / 10

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back to Top