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Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Heart-Shaped Box is a ghost novel by Joe Hill. It’s about a man who buys a ghost. The concept it’s self is a little silly but it’s amazingly well done. The main characters have amazing character arcs. Even the dead characters progress. I picked up the book on a recommendation, expecting it to be like a Stephen King knock-off. I was more surprised with this than I have been with any other book I’ve read.


Heart-Shaped Box is about an aging rock star that goes by the name Jude Coyne. He, like most rock musicians from the late ‘70’s, early ‘80’s, has had a lot of lovers. He called each of them by the state they were from and they only lasted nine months, on average. His current girl is Georgia, a gothic, twenty-something stripper with a bratty attitude. They live on a ranch with Jude’s manager Danny, who handles all of Jude’s affairs. Jude collects morbid things, so when Danny tells him about the sale of a ghost that was emailed to him, he out bids everyone. The “ghost” arrives as a black suit in a black heart-shaped box. That night, Jude sees the ghost: an old man in the all black “Johnny Cash” suit with a silver razor hanging from a gold chain on his wrist and what looks like black scribbles over his eyes. Something about the ghost is familiar to Jude so he asks Danny for the name and phone number of the person who sold it to him. Her name was familiar too, Jessica Price-McDermott. He calls her and realizes why she’s familiar. Jessica is the older sister of his last lover, Ana McDermott. Florida. The sister tells him that Florida committed suicide after he threw her out and their father died shortly after. It’s his ghost that’s haunting Jude and since he paid for it, it’s his now. The ghost of Craddock McDermott wants revenge on Jude for what he did to his daughter.


The whole story is very haunting, no pun intended. At some points it gives the reader relief, but there are still a hundred more pages left. I felt physically ill at those parts because I knew that it wasn’t just going to be happily ever after right then. There were also a few fantastic twists in the story that I won’t ruin, but they worked brilliantly. The characters are unbelievably complex for a 200 page book and, like I said, they progress so far. The character of Georgia, for example, starts out as a bratty young stripper who made Jude’s life harder. She ended up as Marybeth, the polar opposite and along the way we find out that she truly loves him. If not, she would have got out while she had the chance. I recommend Joe Hill’s debut book to anyone interested in ghost stories or horror fiction. It takes a strong will to get through this book but I promise, it’s well worth the read.



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