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….
I re-read Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill this past October. The protagonist Judas Coyne is a 54-year-old rock-star who lives with is assistant and his current 20 something year old goth girlfriend Georgia.
Judas enjoys collecting macabre items, he has a snuff film and a hand written letter from a woman killed for witchcraft during old witch trials among other things. One day his assistant tells him he received an email offer to buy a ghost online. The ghost comes attached to a dead man’s suit. Judas cannot resist and he buys it for his collection. The suit and ghost arrive to his home inside a black heart-shaped box. When Georgia goes to touch the suit she is pricked with what they assume has to be a pin. Not long after Judas starts seeing a man’s ghost in his home and Georgia’s pin prick starts to get badly infected. When Judas decides to call the suit’s previous owner, a woman named Jessica, she tells him the real history behind the suit and it involves someone from Judas’ past. He then becomes frantic trying to rid himself of this ghost before it is too late.
I won’t go into any more details so not to spoil the plot, also don’t read the blurb because it contains a spoiler. I cut off the spoiler in the blurb above though.
Anyway, Heart-Shaped Box was a great scary re-read. I had forgotten much of the plot so it was like reading it for the first time. Hill has a way of telling a good ghost story and giving his characters depth. I was very creeped out while reading and the idea of this ghost arriving within a suit is scary enough. I do believe objects can be haunted, not in the particular way the suit was haunted for this story but still.
Judas was an interesting character, he’s a rock star so there are music references throughout the story which was a nice touch. I’m pretty sure the title is a reference to the Nirvana song of the same name.
Also, I like the dynamic between Judas and Georgia. She loves him and he loves her as best as he can. Judas is divorced and has a habit of having short lived relationships with younger women but Georgia is different. She doesn’t give up on him and she knows his issues.
The ghost was so creepy especially the way he would just sit there and how his eyes were alive with black scribbles. Trigger warning that there is animal violence at one point and I hate that, especially when it comes to dogs.
Joe Hill is one of Stephen King’s sons and he has definitely proven himself to be a wonderful storyteller his own right. The apple does not far from the proverbial tree in the King family. It’s nice. I’ve read Hill before with 20th Century Ghosts and Strange Weather and have enjoyed his work. I also read a short story by these two and I hope they collab on a full length novel one day. One can only hope.
Ever since the suit had arrived at his house in its black heart-shaped box, he had sensed the dead man lingering close to him.
-p.150, Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
About the author:
Joseph Hillstrom King (born June 4, 1972), better known by the pen name Joe Hill, is an American author and comic book writer. His work includes the novels Heart-Shaped Box (2007), Horns (2010), NOS4A2 (2013), and The Fireman (2016); the short story collections 20th Century Ghosts (2005) and Strange Weather (2017); and the comic book series Locke & Key (2008–2013). Locke & Key won British Fantasy Awards in 2009 and 2012, and an Eisner Award in 2012.
King is the son of authors Stephen and Tabitha King.-quoted from wiki
disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.