Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box is an amazing, well crafted book. I could use a whole bunch of blurb type words to describe it (chilling, pageturner, suspenseful, well written...) and even though they might sound cliche each one would be true. This book grabbed my attention the way few books have lately. By page 50 I was so hooked I didn't want to put it down. I finished it in 2 days. 

Jude buys a haunted suit off the internet not knowing if a ghost really inhabits it or not, but is taken with the novelty to add to his to collection of the macabre. When the suit arrives not only is it haunted, but it opens up a whole can of worms to his past. As he wrestles with the menacing ghost who is everywhere he goes, it proves dangerous not only to him, but to those around him as well. The ghost has a personal vendetta against him and anyone who helps him.

The main characters, Jude and Marybeth (aka Georgia), are flawed in ways that if not handled right may cause a reader to dislike them. But I found that their flaws not only made them more human, but made me root for them to succeed and hope they would find change along the way for themselves for the better. 

The writing is well crafted. This is a debut novel, but Joe Hill comes across more as a well practiced writer. The writing is taut and powerful. The momentum is excellent and suspenseful. Everything draws the plot and characters forward. Once you start reading, you can't help but be drawn in yourself. For me what makes it an even better story was that I couldn't anticipate all of the choices the characters made or the forms the haunting takes. Also, the story stayed with me for days afterwards.

If you enjoy a good ghost story, suspenseful and full of horror, then I highly recommend this book. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Afterword: I think when I read this book, I was probably one of the few people left in America that didn't already know that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son. As such, I still think his writing should stand on it's own. And his writing is really good in this book.