Monday, November 17, 2014


Title: Heart-Shaped Box
Author: Joe Hill
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: February 13, 2007
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre -- his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman's noose, Aleister Crowley's childhood chessboard, etc. -- so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it. 

The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker's sanity.


Being a major fan of horror, I absolutely loved Heart-Shaped Box. As rock star, Judas Coyne, is a long time collector of unusual memorabilia, it isn't very odd when he purchases a ghost for his collection. Soon, however, said ghost turns out to be much more than he bargained for and Judas, his current girlfriend, Marybeth aka Georgia, along with everybody else they come in contact with, is in mortal danger.

I get to read a fair amount of horror, yet, it has been a while since I last read something that isn't just blood, guts and scary phenomena. Although this book most certainly has its ample share of bloody, gory violence, it is also a tale filled with realistic personalities with excellently fitting back stories.

The extremely well fleshed out characters truly come alive through the brilliantly written dialogue. All the characters, even that of the main character, Judas Coyne, is thoroughly and realistically flawed.

The author successfully creates atmospheres of fear, horror, despair and, yes, even hope, through his wonderfully detailed descriptions of anything from nature and the weather to indoor scenery and facial expressions.

Heart-Shaped Box isn't just the telling of a horrifying adventure, it is also a tale of revenge, remorse, and character development, as well as relationship growth.

Perhaps not suitable for readers under sixteen or for extremely sensitive readers, Heart-Shaped Box is an absolute must read for all who enjoy the best that horror has to offer.


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Joe Hill is the author of three novels, Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and NOS4A2, as well as a prize-winning collection of stories, 20th Century Ghosts. He also wrote a pair of comics: Locke & Key and Wraith (which ties into the world of NOS4A2). Some nice people gave him an Eisner Award for his work in funny books, which is a great honor, even if “funny” probably doesn’t do a good job of describing the kinds of things that happen in the comics. Come to think of it, his comics aren’t very comic either.

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