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Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Joe Hill

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4,2432601,169 (3.75)325
Title:Heart-Shaped Box
Authors:Joe Hill (Author)
Info:Morrow (2007), Edition: Number Line: 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0, Paperback
Collections:Your library, books, have read, do
Tags:.edition, =book, a: novel, fiction, genre: supernatural, genre: horror, century: 21st, written: 2011, _read: 2013, _cover (lt), _Lh???, •remove

Work details

Heart-Shaped Box: A Novel by Joe Hill (2007)

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English (248)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  Danish (1)  Romanian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (259)
Showing 1-5 of 248 (next | show all)
3.5 stars ( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
3.5 stars ( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
"Despite having a general curiosity about the paranormal, I never read so many books regarding the subject. The only time I ever read something similar to this book was when I was fourteen years old; a book from [a:Stephen King|3389|Stephen King|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1362814142p2/3389.jpg] which I had borrowed from a friend. Years passed, I forgot even the name of the book (way to go, brain!). On my eighteenth birthday my best friend gave me this book as a gift and I got really surprised when, a little before starting to read it, I discovered the author was actually Stephen King's son. It seems I am destined to read paranormal stories coming from this family.

This is a story about an aging former rockstar, Judas Coyne, that has certain peculiar interests. The most intriguing of them is his desire to collect artifacts which have, at some point, had any relation with the paranormal. Unfortunately, one of his new acquisitions turns out to be not that harmless: he intentionally buys a suit which is supposedly haunted by a ghost; what Coyne was not expecting is that the whole thing would be true. At first, Coyne and his girlfriend are reacting rather neutrally to the presence of the ghost, believing that it eventually will go away. As the story moves forward, though, they find out that the ghost isn't merely a random nuisance; it's not just destiny. Everything that happened from the point when he found the suit on the website was planned meticulously and executed as a revenge orchestra.

This book is a token of Hill's admiration for rock, molded in the shape of a ghost story. Throughout the story and the book itself there are clear references to old bands from the 60's, mostly the ones that probably influenced Joe Hill over the years. Even though it might feel a little too obsessive, for some people, it didn't bother me for the book is very well written; the characters are likeable enough, being well depicted and I can't recall one single point where the story felt dragged on.

To be honest, initially, Coyne was a character which I couldn't relate to; the fact that he was a rich guy that didn't know what to do with his life besides drinking and collecting potentially dangerous artifacts didn't make that much sense. If it was me with all that money I would spend it travelling the world and buying every book I found interesting, for instance. Regardless, halfway through, Hill starts to take the story into a different path. The focus goes from terrorizing paranormal story to a more reflective philosophical journey. We are gradually shown parts of Coyne´s past what serves two purposes: firstly, it makes the story as a whole make more sense; secondly, it turns Coyne into a much more realistic, thus believable, character. We learn that he is not haunted only by the random ghost, but also by very common human feelings. He has regrets and fears as every other human being.

All things considered, I really liked the story and Hill's writing style. It's brilliant how he managed to humanize his characters in such a short time. I also liked the message the author delivered about the power that music has over human feelings. I can totally relate to it, since in the darkest parts of my life, so far, music has helped me get calmer, think things through and get back on my feet. I would strongly recommend this book to any paranormal fan that also like new literally flavors from time to time. This book is full of them; Joe showed that he is a very talented writer unafraid of taking steps towards the unconventional, transforming a seemingly common story into an intriguing journey through human feelings and morality.

Interesting quotes that I didn't include in the review:
Horror was rooted in sympathy . . . in understanding what it would be like to suffer the worst.
All the world is made of music. We are all strings on a lyre. We resonate. We sing together.
If hell was anything, it was talk radio — and family.

The Last Passage
So. Reese at least did not know everything her mother had done, which Jude could only take to mean that there really was some mercy to be found in the world.
“I am sorry about what I did to your hand,” she said. “I mean that. I have dreams sometimes, about my Aunt Anna. We go for rides together. She has a cool old car like this one, only black. She isn’t sad anymore, not in my dreams. We go for rides in the country. She listens to your music on the radio. She told me you weren’t at our house to hurt me. She said you came to end it. To bring my mother to account for what she let happen to me. I just wanted to say I’m sorry and I hope you’re happy.”
He nodded but did not reply, did not, in truth, trust his own voice.
They went into the station together. Jude left her on a scarred wooden bench, went to the counter and bought a ticket to Buffalo. He had the station agent put it inside an envelope. He slipped two hundred dollars in with it, folded into a sheet of paper with his phone number on it and a note that she should call if she ran into trouble on the road. When he returned to her, he stuck the envelope into the pouch on the side of her backpack instead of handing it to her, so she wouldn’t look into it right away and try to give the money back.
She went with him out onto the street, where the rain was falling more heavily now and the last of the day’s light had fled, leaving things blue and twilighty and cold. He turned to say good-bye, and she stood on tiptoe and kissed the chilled, wet side of his face. He had, until then, been thinking of her as a young woman, but her kiss was the thoughtless kiss of a child. The idea of her traveling hundreds of miles north, with no one to look out for her, seemed suddenly all the more daunting.
“Take care,” they both said, at exactly the same time, in perfect unison, and then they laughed. Jude squeezed her hand and nodded but had nothing else to say except good-bye.
It was dark when he came back into the house. Marybeth pulled two bottles of Sam Adams out of the fridge, then started rummaging in the drawers for a bottle opener.
“I wish I could’ve done something for her,” Jude said.
“She’s a little young,” Marybeth said. “Even for you. Keep it in your pants, why don’t you?”
“Jesus. That’s not what I meant.”
Marybeth laughed, found a dishrag, and chucked it in his face.
“Dry off. You look even more like a pathetic derelict when you’re all wet.”
He rubbed the rag through his hair. Marybeth popped him a beer and set it in front of him. Then she saw he was still pouting and laughed again.
“Come on, now, Jude. If you didn’t have me to rake you over the coals now and then, there wouldn’t be any fire left in your life at all,” she said. She stood on the other side of the kitchen counter, watching him with a certain wry, tender regard. “Anyway, you gave her a bus ticket to Buffalo, and…what? How much money?”
“Two hundred dollars.”
“Come on, now. You did something for her. You did plenty. What else were you supposed to do?”
Jude sat at the center island, holding the beer Marybeth had set in front of him but not drinking it. He was tired, still damp and chilly from the outside. A big truck, or a Greyhound maybe, roared down the highway, fled into the cold tunnel of the night, was gone. He could hear the puppies out in their pen, yipping at it, excited by its noise.
“I hope she makes it,” Jude said.
“To Buffalo? I don’t see why she wouldn’t,” Marybeth said.
“Yeah,” Jude said, although he wasn’t sure that was what he’d really meant at all.
" ( )
  AdemilsonM | Sep 2, 2015 |
A carefully crafted ghost story that sets its own rules and abides by them. The pace is careful and deliberate; this is not a book you race through but rather savor as it unfolds.

There's probably a lot of comparison between Hill and King as writers, but I certainly felt like I was reading the work of a unique storyteller. I will definitely be checking out Hill's other work. ( )
  louis.arata | Jul 31, 2015 |
One might think that this book according to its title might be something romantic, chick lit but don't believe it. What comes in the Heart Shaped Box is nothing but pure evil. This book starts off and never stops. The tension builds to a peak and never lets the reader down.

Judas Coyne is an aging rock star who likes to collect the bizarre. He is contacted by an auction agency to see if he wants to by a dead man's black suit. The man's daughter says she needs to sell it and sell the man's spirit with it. Never one to turn down something so unusual and of the occult Judas buys the suit.

What follows is terror, tragedies and deaths. Judas has to find a way to end the evil that has entered his life.

Joe Hill did an excellent job writing the Heart-Shaped Box! The reader feels the tension, believes the characters and wonders what is around the next corner. ( )
  Diane_K | Jul 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 248 (next | show all)
"Heart-Shaped Box" truly deserves the superlatives heaped upon it by the publicists who smoothed the path of this first novel's advent.
Simply put, this is the best debut novel I have read in years.
Hill masterfully keeps the action moving and the drama escalating, giving readers just enough revelations to keep them on board this Southern train of a ghost story.
While I would not go so far as to hand Joe Hill his father's crown just yet, this debut is a promising start. It's safe to say a new contender for the throne has arrived.
Heart-Shaped Box isn't about appeasing fathers, and learning to love them, and seeing that they, too, are human beings and not monsters. It's not about that at all. It's about knowing your father, and finding him, and then killing him. That's what the best artists do.

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hill, Joeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Belt, LiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kolstad, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Müller, WolfgangTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mortensen, Hans PalleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosier, ValérieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sierra, Julio A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Middle-aged rock star Judas Coyne collects morbid curios, so he doesn't think twice about buying a suit advertised at an online auction site as haunted by its dead owner's ghost. Only after it arrives does Jude discover that the suit belonged to Craddock McDermott, the stepfather of one of Coyne's discarded groupies, and that the old man's ghost is a malignant spirit determined to kill Judas in revenge for his stepdaughter's suicide. Judas and his girlfriend take to the road in an attempt to run from the ghost and to find a way to stop it.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061147931, Hardcover)

Do you sleep with the light on? Are you in the habit of checking your doors and windows before you go to bed? Maybe even checking under your bed? If you are about to crack open Joe Hill's chilling thriller Heart-Shaped Box, you might want to rethink your nighttime habits--Hill's story about an aging rock star (with a penchant for macabre artifacts) who buys a haunted suit online will scare you silly. But don't take our word for it. We asked bestselling authors (and masters of dark terror tales themselves) Scott Smith, and Harlan Coben to read Heart-Shaped Box and give us their take. Check out their reviews below, and you might want to pick up a nightlight while you're at it. --Daphne Durham
Guest Reviewer: Scott Smith

In 1993, Scott Smith wowed readers with his stunning debut thriller, A Simple Plan. Thirteen years later, he spooked us again with The Ruins, a horror-thriller about four Americans traveling in Mexico who stumble across a nightmare in the jungle.

The set-up for Joe Hill's novel, Heart-Shaped Box, is appealingly simple. Jude Coyne, an aging rock star, buys himself a dead man's suit. He acquires it online, lured by the promise that the dead man's ghost will be included in his purchase. Jude thinks this is a joke, of course. He also assumes the seller is a stranger. We soon discover that he's wrong on both counts, however, and from this point on the story moves with an exhilarating urgency. Jude wants the ghost gone; the ghost wants Jude dead. We watch, chapter-by-chapter, as they battle for survival. "Watch" is the appropriate word, too, because this is an extremely visual book. Hill's prose is lean and precise, and he renders Jude's world with impressive confidence. It feels solid, every detail both correct and fresh. And this physicality provides a firm platform for the book's otherworldly happenings, which seem all the more frightening for being so securely grounded.

Hill has a flawless sense of pacing. His narrative never flags, nor does it ever move so quickly as to outrun itself. And one can sense his literary ambition pushing at the margins of the genre. There are times when his writing, for all its spare efficiency, seems to jump away from him, stopping one small step short of poetry. An e-mail to Jude from the ghost (trust me, it's not as absurd as it sounds) could even pass for something ee cummings might've written, in an especially morbid mood. And toward the end of the book, when Hill describes a trip down death's "night road" in a '65 Mustang, the passage has a startlingly lyrical beauty.

The story's horror ultimately has as much to do with Jude Coyne's past--his mistakes, abandonments and betrayals--as with anything supernatural. Jude has caused a lot of pain over the years, moving through life with a carelessness that verges on the callous. His battle with the ghost brings this behavior into sharp relief, forcing him to reflect upon his own capacity for cruelty. This dawning self-awareness leavens the book's bleakness and gore (and it is delightfully gory in places) with an unexpected sweetness. Despite our initial impression, Jude is gradually revealed--both to himself and the reader--as an essentially decent, even kind man. It's this kindness, this fledgling ability to love and be loved, that will ultimately be of crucial consequence in his death struggle with the ghost. And it's what makes Hill's debut not only well-written and terrifying, but also--as it draws to its close--surprisingly moving. So go ahead, take a chance, and open his Heart-Shaped Box. I think you’ll be happy you did. --Scott Smith

Guest Reviewer: Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is the author of the beloved Myron Bolitar series about a wisecracking sports agent, as well as stunning stand-alone novels like The Innocent and his breakout thriller Tell No One. His new novel The Woods releases on April 17, 2007.

You, dear reader, are obviously somewhat versed in making online purchases, so today, immediately after you click on the yellow "Add to Shopping Cart" on the top right hand corner of this page, why not do an online search and buy something totally unique?

Like, say, a vengeful ghost.

That is what rock-star Judas Coyne does, thinking it will be a laugh, fun for his "sick-o" collection of such things. It seems a random buy, but Judas soon learns that it is anything but. This particular ghost is one Craddock McDermott, step-father to recent suicide victim and boy, is he cranky. He demands revenge for his step-daughter’s death, which he blames on Judas’s shabby treatment of her.

Or is he after something else?

There are Amazon readers who will give you a better plot summary. Don't read them too closely because Joe Hill provides plenty of fun surprises. Heart-Shaped Box is a true spine-tingler. I don’t use that hyphenated word much anymore. We have seen and read it all, haven't we? But right away, in the first chapter, there was a subtle line that made the hairs on the back of my neck go up in a way I haven't experienced since I first discovered great horror as a teenager.

Hill writes with a sure hand. The prose is compelling. Like most memorable tales of horror, this book is more about redemption than scary moments--though Heart-Shaped Box has plenty of scares. They are visceral, shocking and very well done. The characters are flawed and real. The father-son relationship adds texture and surprising poignancy.

So here's the thing. My guess is, you won’t find a ghost to buy online, but if you read the Heart-Shaped Box, you will be getting something that will haunt you and startle you and stay with you and yes, visit you in your dreams.

Sleep well, dear reader. --Harlan Coben

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:23 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A collector of obscure and macabre artifacts, unscrupulous metal band musician Judas Coyne is unable to resist purchasing a ghost over the Internet, which turns out to be the vengeful spirit of his late girlfriend's stepfather.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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