Spooooooky Read – Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Posted October 31, 2015 by smutmatters in Horror, Reviews, Special / 4 Comments

Spooooooky Read – Heart-Shaped Box by Joe HillHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on February 13th 2007
Genres: Horror
Pages: 376
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased
Barnes & Noble

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.

For Halloween, I thought I’d share with you a book that is, to this day, one of the scariest I’ve ever read. I finished this book one night about 9:00 and a few hours later when I was ready to go to bed, I sent Rob upstairs first so he could turn on every single light on that floor. It was scary in a creepy, unsettling way, not in a gory, blood and guts kind of way. It reminded me a lot of some early Stephen King, especially fitting because Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. (In case you couldn’t tell that from the pictures of him, especially with Joe’s beard.) Side story on that – Rob and I were at Comic-Con in San Diego a few years ago, and Rob knew that one of my goals was to get a copy of Locke & Key (Joe Hill’s comic) signed by Joe Hill. Rob’s not much of a reader, so all he knew was Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son, get comic signed. We split up for a while, and after an hour or so I got a text from Rob telling me that either Stephen King had managed to clone himself, or Joe Hill was setting up his signing booth. Stephen King had not managed to clone himself, but I was able to get down there pretty quickly to get my comic book signed. AND – Joe Hill liked my T-shirt so much he made his kids quit playing video games in the back of the booth and come check it out. Which was the high point of Comic-Con for me. (The shirt was of Mario trying to pull his plunger out of the stalk area/spot of a Dalek).


(Shirt pic from shirtoid.com)

Anyway – this book terrified me. More than any other book since, well, since It, which I read when I was about 12. Maybe 13. Ghosts scare me. Vengeful spirits. All of the supernatural stuff. Way more than the monsters. This book had all of it. Any time I’m asked for a scary book recommendation, this is my go to. What about you? What’s the scariest book you’ve read?

About Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the author of three novels, Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and NOS4A2, as well as a prize-winning collection of stories, 20th Century Ghosts. He also wrote a pair of comics: Locke & Key and Wraith (which ties into the world of NOS4A2). Some nice people gave him an Eisner Award for his work in funny books, which is a great honor, even if “funny” probably doesn’t do a good job of describing the kinds of things that happen in the comics. Come to think of it, his comics aren’t very comic either.

4 responses to “Spooooooky Read – Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

    • smutmatters

      NOS4A2 was so good as an audiobook. Somehow, because I’m a goof, and Joe Hill is an auto-buy for me, I managed to pre-order NOS4A2 in hardback, ebook, and audio book. So I’ve actually listened to it and read it, and audiobook was the way to go.

    • smutmatters

      They’re so good. I haven’t read anything by him that I haven’t enjoyed, but this one was definitely the one that scared me the most.