Jude Coyne enjoys creepy things. He has a snuff film, a hangman’s noose, and other memorabilia that would give, the average person, nightmares. So when he is contacted through an online bidding website about purchasing a ghost, he decides to put a bid on it. Once the “ghost” arrives in a heart-shaped box, Jude is skeptical but soon he realizes that this ghost is very much real. He is very much angry. And he won’t stop until Jude is dead….
Heart-Shaped Box, the debut horror novel by Joe Hill, follows washed up rock star, Jude Coyne, as he comes in direct contact with a revenge-seeking poltergeist. As he investigates into the story behind the ghost, he realizes his connection to it and must try to escape his wrath.
This was my first experience with a Joe Hill novel. It came highly recommended by many fellow book bloggers and my friends in the bookstagram community. I had initially added it to my Halloween Read-a-Thon weekend, but life got in the way! Since I leave no book behind, I figured I needed to finish this book!
Initially, I was terrified when I was reading the novel. Within the first couple chapters, where he first discovers the ghost and makes initial contact with it, I had to put the novel down because I was too freaked out. By page 34, I had to put the book in another room because it was creeping me out so much; serves me right for reading this right before bed! However, as the novel progressed I found myself feeling indifferent about the story. It slowed down and I didn’t find it overly frightening. I also didn’t find the imagery as “nightmare-inducing” as I had been expecting. It became a run of the mill ghost story for me. It had its moments in the middle (look out for the Ouija board scene and the phone call from his manager) but, otherwise, I found it a little lackluster. Once we got closer to the end, the story picked up and I did end up enjoying how the story wrapped up. The plot twist was unexpected and held my interest.
Now, don’t get it twisted, my feelings regarding the middle of this book had absolutely nothing to do with Hill’s writing style. He is a phenomenal writer; there is no doubting that. It is engaging and the narrative voice of the characters is easy to connect with. I will absolutely read more of his work.
I feel like any fan of Stephan King will enjoy this book since they have very similar narrative voices (like father like son I guess!). However, if you are looking for an incredibly terrifying read, I wouldn’t bother with this one.