08 February 2015

Review: Heart-Shaped Box

Heart-Shaped Box
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I've considered myself a Joe Hill fan for a while now, but Heart-Shaped Box stayed unread on my Kindle for years. I finally decided to open it up, and now I just hate myself for waiting so long.

Basically, Heart-Shaped Box is a ghost story. A guy buys haunted things off eBay, and this happens to be the suit of a dead man who was a hypnotist, and it now compels people to murder. The book immediately dives right into the creepy compulsions and weirdness, and it becomes a race to see if this situation can be solved before it's too late.

The book works best when it's man versus mystery. The first quarter of the book is almost perfect on its own, with the ghost activity ramped up to a point where I had no idea where it was going to realistically end up. The heightened tension that persists as a result gives a great immediacy to the rest of the tale, and kept me on edge as the couple at the center of the story moved from place to place. It's rare to have a book where you feel literally anything could happen at any time, and yet this book succeeds better than most other books I've read that I can recall. Yes, it relies on a little more gore and profanity than is necessary or that I'd prefer, but it didn't really take away from the story at all, and that's the most important thing.

Overall, I'd put this ahead of Horns but behind NOS4A2, but it's clear that, at least for more "traditional" horror, Joe Hill is pretty much right at the top of my list. This was absolutely brilliant, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the genre. Just great.

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