Newest Review: ... This novel certainly lives up to these expectations with its incredible twists and turns throughout. To start with, the reader is intr... more
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill
Member Name: sparkymarky1973
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill
Advantages: Quite a neat little modern-day ghost story
Disadvantages: Tapers off a little towards the end with a slightly tame climax
Heart-Shaped Box is, at its core, a ghost story for the twenty-first century and the debut novel for writer, Joe Hill; the son of famous author, Stephen King of whom some of you may have heard of. Previous to this, Hill had a collection of short stories published entitled Twentieth Century Ghosts but, having not picked this up, Box was to be my first experience of this new writer who has already begun to garner something of a reputation as being the next big thing in horror! How much of this is due to Hill riding on his father's coat-tails is open to debate but that is a move that has been prompted solely by his publishers, Hill dropping the King from his name in order to establish himself on the basis of his own talent!!
When I first saw his books on the shelves, I had no idea of who Hill was and approached this then with an open mind. It was only when this had been on my to-be-read pile for a while that I learned of the writer's parentage and it is fair to say that this didn't influence my opinion of the novel in the slightest. From the very start of Box, it is clear to all that Hill has a style entirely of his own and anyone expecting a Stephen King-like story is likely to be very disappointed!! In point of fact, the closest comparison author Hill resembles in my mind is to macabre thriller writer, Michael Marshall; himself the author of such novels as The Straw Men and sci-fi satire, Spares which examined the issues of Cloning amongst other subjects.
But I digress....Heart-Shaped Box tells the story of ageing rock star, Jude, whose attention is caught by an auction on an Ebay-style web-site which claims to be offering the buyer possession of a ghost. The ghost is that of the seller's Step-father and is spiritually connected to a mouldering suit that he was supposed to be buried in. Jude has something of a collection of arcane artifacts and bizarre objects d'art that he has gathered over the years which includes a genuine Snuff movie shot in Mexico and so opts for the Buy-It-Now option and parts with a thousand dollars. But when the suit arrives in its heart-shaped box, it brings with it a less than friendly entity that has more than mere haunting on its mind. This is a ghost obsessed with revenge and Jude soon realises that he is intimately connected with events in the ghost's much more recent past. Someone has set him up and now this most malevolent of spirits will not rest until Jude and all those few that surround him are dead by the foulest of means and the evillest of trickery!
What follows is a very cleverly-conceived story that is more of a supernatural thriller than an out-and-out horror. The plot rolls along very nicely, never slowing its pace once until it reaches its inevitable climax. There is far less waffle and descriptive prose than might ordinarily be expected from his dad's work and this is by no means a challenging read being quite light and easy to pick up. But this is by no means a bad thing and establishes this book further as a novel in its own right!
Some of the characters, in fact all of them, are flawed and many of them, if not all, have done things in their life that is difficult to like but, in that sense, this only serves to make the whole thing more believable! Here Hill has written a very engaging novel and quite rightly deserves greater success and at the very least, a fraction of his father's longevity in print!
My version of this novel also comes with a brief sample of Hill's anthology, Twentieth Century Ghosts, and this looks to be an equally impressive tome that I will be picking up shortly given the quality of the example included forthwith. My only complaint about Heart-Shaped Box is that the ending is a little, dare I say it, twee and a little bit of a anti-climax given the strength of everything that precedes it but certainly Hill proves here that he has what it takes to be a strong contender in a genre that is quite literally being swamped of late with tawdry chick-lit disguised under the banner of "Paranormal Romance"!
Here Hill looks to be one to watch and I predict that, in the future, he will be a force to be reckoned with!
Summary: The son of Stephen King gets off to a fairly good start....