Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre — his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, etc. — so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it. The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker’s sanity.
My Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
I really wanted to like this book. Really. Joe Hill, being the son of horror-writer Stephen King, seems to be attempting to follow in his father’s footsteps, writing in the horror genre.
Heart-Shaped Box, however, was not scary. At all. I had read reviews of the book, and always looked at it at the library, wondering if I’d be brave enough to check it out. It was even in my wish list on Amazon. I was that intrigued.
When I finally did check this book out, I couldn’t believe how I had worked myself up for nothing. The book is humorous at times (like a I-can’t-believe-he’s-trying-to-pass-this-off-as-scary kind of humorous), but Hill’s characters are so cliché and drab (an aging ex-rock star with his ex-stripper groupie girlfriend). The entire book is predictable and kind of boring.
If you’re looking for a scary read, put Heart-Shaped Box back on the shelf. You’ll finish the book wondering where the scary was. Pick up something by Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, or Chuck Pahlaniuk instead.