Book Review: Heart-Shaped Box by Hill (3 Stars)

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

3 out of 5 stars

Read in October 2008

Warning: Spoilers

This book re-confirmed why I gave up reading horror two decades ago. Yes, it was a fast read. It would even make a good movie. But it’s not great literature. And it didn’t scare me, or thrill me, and it definitely didn’t stretch my vocabulary.

Jude is a fifty-four year old mostly retired grunge rocker who has a penchant for twenty-something Goth girlfriends. He also collects occult, grotesque and/or macabre items, including a real human skull for a pen holder and a snuff video. Danny, his personal assistant receives an anonymous e-mail with a tip about a ghost for sale at an online auction site. Jude can’t resist the temptation and uses the “buy it now” feature to purchase a haunted suit for $1,000.00. Several days later, Jude receives a package containing a black heart-shaped box with the black suit in it. Soon after, the ghost makes an appearance.

Eventually, Jude and his girlfriend, Marybeth, figure out who the ghost is and the rest is their journey of discovery and quest to flee and stop the ghost. The ghost is the stepfather of Jude’s previous girlfriend, Anna. Initially, you’re led to believe that the stepfather is sent to avenge Anna’s suicide. The sordid past proves otherwise.

It’s sad that I’m not even shocked anymore when I read profanity, or about child molesters, pedophiles, rapists/murderists, etc. The media and Hollywood have desensitized me, I suppose. This may be fiction, but it saddens me that parts of this story could very well be the next headline in the news.