HEART-SHAPED BOX By Joe Hill Reviewed

HEART-SHAPED BOX By Joe Hill

Debut novels are often not judged on their merit, but rather, on their author’s potential. First novels are often more heart-felt, simpler, more personal and direct than the books that follow.

While the Heart-Shaped Box contains all the goodness of a debut, it feels much more accomplished, more experienced and complex than most first novels.

At the book’s heart it an emotional integrity you rarely find with veteran authors, let alone newbies. Judas Coyne is a semi-retired rock star in the vein of Ozzy Osbourne, a Satanic-ish rocker in his mid-fifties, and a collector of strange items. When his assistant finds a ghost for sale on an auction website Coyne buys it, little knowing that the ghost in question is the stepfather of his ex-girlfriend – who killed herself after Coyne threw her out – and is out for vengeance against the man who ruined his daughter.

What follows is a chase across the US as Coyne and his current girlfriend attempt to outrun the ghost and destroy it, while the ghost plays havoc with their minds, trying to punish Coyne and getting him to kill his girlfriend and then himself.

There is no black and white here, only shades of grey, as the ghost uses the bad in Coyne to create the horrific scenarios.

This is tense stuff, brutally realistic and heart wrenching, despite the ghostly aspect. Besides that there’s far too much child-abuse, in all its varied forms, for this to be just entertainment.

What Hill has produced is a book that makes you uncomfortable and nervous, makes you enjoy some of the pain, and produces a character in Coyne at once unlike able and loveable.

Much more complex and daring than a young novelist normally allows themselves to be, Heart-Shaped Box is an extremely accomplished novel. It’s one of those books it hurts to put down, but in some ways it also hurts to pick up. Hill writes with a skill that makes this writer want to give up. Every single word drags you deeper into the story, wanting to find out more as the mystery unravels.

Heart-Shaped Box is one of those rare treats, a first novel that astounds in its brilliance and leaves you begging for more. Give me more Joe Hill!

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One Response to “HEART-SHAPED BOX By Joe Hill Reviewed”

  1. Yes I’m looking forward to reading more of Hill’s work.

    I did like the commentary on the media hysteria regarding heavy metal, as well as the little sting at the tail in the end.

    Reminded me a bit of the American Psycho movie actually.

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