Wednesday, 30 March 2011

31/111 – Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

I bought this book quite recently, partly because I liked the cover, and partly for another reason that I will get out of the way now because I don’t think it really bears further discussion. Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King. That is mostly why I bought this novel, but I don’t really want to talk about in light of that, because that isn’t the way I read it, and I don’t think it’s useful or helpful to compare the two. But you have to have A reason to buy a book, and liking the guy’s dad is as valid as any reason.

There. Out of the way.

In any case, I still thought Heart-Shaped Box had a cool idea behind it. Judas Coyne, an aging heavy metal rocker collects weird and wonderful objects, usually associated with death. He even has a snuff tape! So when his assistant tells him that there is a ghost for sale on ebay, he decides to buy it. The seller posts Judas one of the dead man’s suits in a heart-shaped box. Judas soon finds out that the ghost is real and wants him dead for reasons he has yet to work out. As it turns out, the ghost belongs to a former hypnotist and step-father of an old girlfriend who committed suicide after Judas ended their relationship. Now he has to figure out a way to get rid of it for good before it makes him commit suicide, too.

I liked this. It wasn’t perfect, but I liked it. It was a pleasant read, and genuinely spooky at times (probably shouldn’t have finished it in bed with my creepy reading light). In other places, it was a little cheesy and predictable. Judas’ goth girlfriend is a bit of a cliché, but I think she’s supposed to be. It was a little too fast-paced in places, and could have done with a little more subtlety and suspense, but would make a fairly decent horror film. It's his first novel, so it would be nice to follow up and see what he comes up with next. Ultimately, I'd like to see something where I feel a little more for the characters, where they are a little more natural than the slightly caricatured ones in this book. 

It’s not revolutionary, just a really cool idea and some good filthy horror fun.

Next: The Devil Within by Stephanie Merritt

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