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Is Hill the new King?
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill
Member Name: Drewster_Rooster
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill
Advantages: story, characters,
Disadvantages: too long!
I bought this book on its original hard back release for one reason only; the writer. Joe Hill is the son of my favourite author Stephen King and although comparisons between Hill and King would be inevitable I have to say I was left feeling slightly disappointed with the story and feel it only got the accolade and acclaim it received simply because of who wrote it.
The story follows a multi-millionaire rock singer - Judas Coyne - who although is getting on in years likes the finer things in life and the company of his (much younger) girlfriend. He has a taste for the strange and unusual and enjoys collecting memorabilia of a weird and macabre nature. Out of the blue he receives an email asking him if he wants to buy a "haunted suit" and of course having more money that sense he immediately accepts the offer, Its only after it is delivered to his home that strange things start to happen to him, his girlfriend and their dogs.
The ghost makes its presence known immediately and you are dragged into the story at break-neck speed. Hills' writing strength is in gripping you from the start and does narrate very well, delivering some exceptional descriptions of the hauntings that take place and the effects that it has on the characters. It just seems that he can't keep up the momentum and towards the end of the book it feels too long. You do feel genuine concern for the characters and the book can be described as a "page turner" but it really could have benefited from being 100 pages shorter and more concise.
As a first release for a new writer the story is good, but unfortunately for the author he will be compared to his father which is rather unfair on him even though the book at the time was promoted on this fact. He shares similarities with his father in his descriptions and building tension but falls short on actually seeing it through to the end. For me it's a "good-but-not-great" book and I was glad to finish it, although, like everything else though it's your own personal opinion that matters.
Maybe my expectations were too high and I was consciously comparing it to a Stephen King book? Possibly, but I compare all horror stories to Stephen Kings works, so just because this was written by his son didn't alter my view point and the comparisons in my own mind.
All in all, it is a solid read that does provide some tension and excellent descriptive dialogue. It was certainly worth reading and although could have been edited down it was good never the less. For a spooky ghost story it did deliver and was haunting and worked well. Personally from me I would rate it 3/5 Dooyoo stars. Good but not great.
Joe Hill has now released a couple more books so his stories may have improved; I haven't read any more books by him though so can't comment on his later works. The Heart Shaped Box is still available on Amazon for £5.48 and has some good ratings on there as well.
Originally released in May 2008 it is by no means an old book so could make a nice stocking filler for any fans of the supernatural or ghost stories.
Thanks for reading
Summary: Joe Hill - The heart shaped box - His first novel.