Summary and book reviews of Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box

A Novel.

By Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2007,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2008,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman's noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can't help but reach for his wallet.

I will "sell" my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder. . . .

For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn't afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts—of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What's one more?

But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. It's the real thing.

And suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door . . . seated in Jude's restored vintage Mustang . . . standing outside his window . . . staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting—with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand. . . .

A multiple-award winner for his short fiction, author Joe Hill immediately vaults into the top echelon of dark fantasists with a blood-chilling roller-coaster ride of a novel, a masterwork brimming with relentless thrills and acid terror.

1

Jude had a private collection.

He had framed sketches of the Seven Dwarfs on the wall of his studio, in between his platinum records. John Wayne Gacy had drawn them while he was in jail and sent them to him. Gacy liked golden-age Disney almost as much as he liked molesting little kids; almost as much as he liked Jude’s albums.

Jude had the skull of a peasant who had been trepanned in the sixteenth century, to let the demons out. He kept a collection of pens jammed into the hole in the center of the cranium.

He had a three-hundred-year-old confession, signed by a witch. “I did spake with a black dogge who sayd hee wouldst poison cows, drive horses mad and sicken children for me if I wouldst let him have my soule, and I sayd aye, and after did give him sucke at my breast.” She was burned to death.

He had a stiff and worn noose that had been used to hang a man in England at the turn of the nineteenth century, Aleister Crowley’s ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

In short, Hill knows his audience. If horror is your genre you're likely to find yourself satisfied with his first novel, and with book rights already sold in at least 17 countries and a movie already being planned, it's likely we'll be hearing more from Hill, son of Stephen King, before too long.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (818 words).

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Neil Gaiman
Heart-Shaped Box is, quite simply, the best debut horror novel since Clive Barker's Damnation Game, twenty years ago. It's the kind of book that the overworked adjectives people use on book jackets — relentless, gripping, powerful, a genuine page-turner — were really meant to describe, for it's all of those things, and enormously smart besides. A genuinely scary novel filled with people you care about; the kind of book that still stays in your mind after you've turned over the final page. I loved it unreservedly.

Library Journal

Starred Review. [A] wrenching and effective ghost story."

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. His subtle and skillful treatment of horrors that could easily have exploded over the top and out of control helps make this a truly memorable debut.

Kirkus Reviews

Much will be made of the kinship of Hill and his superstar father, Stephen King, but Hill can stand on his own two feet. He's got horror down pat, and his debut is hair-raising fun.

International Herald Tribune - Janet Maslin

Though it has the potential to fall back on tricks and pyrotechnics, "Heart-Shaped Box" is firmly rooted in real-world concerns. Hill elicits honest empathy for Jude, who turned his stage persona into a nightmare version of his fears and must now figure out what strength he has left for legitimate battles.

Chicago Sun-Times - David Montgomery

If there's one thing that Stephen King can do, just about better than anyone, it's craft a story that is all but guaranteed to scare the pants off the reader. While Hill may not quite manage that feat, he gets pretty close for a first-time author. All in all, Heart-Shaped Box is a worthy novel. The elder King is no doubt proud.

Horror World Book Reviews

Joe Hill creates a novel that is sure to stand up proudly against any of the classic ghost stories that reside on your bookshelf.

Reader Reviews
anthony nash

heart shaped box
Some people drink champagne some people drink orange juice and some people drink ditch water. I am not a hobo, this book was drinking ditch water. The apple has fallen far from the tree.

Paige V.

WOW!
For my english class my teacher suggested my group should read A Heart Shaped Box. I am so glad I read it. I could not put it down. It was one of the best books I have ever read. I felt as if I was in the plat watching everything take place. The ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Joseph Hillstrom King (pen name: Joe Hill), born in 1971, is the oldest son of Tabitha and Stephen King. He has an older sister, Naomi, and a younger brother, Owen. His stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and his first book, a collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts, won the British Fantasy Award for "Best Collection" and "Best Short Fiction" in 2006, but was not published in the USA until October 2007.

On the one hand, Hill appears to ...

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