Synopses & Reviews
Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals...a used hangman's noose...a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can't help but reach for his wallet.
I will "sell" my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder...
For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn't afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What's one more?
But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. It's the real thing.
And suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door...seated in Jude's restored vintage Mustang...standing outside his window...staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand...
A multiple-award winner for his short fiction, author Joe Hill immediately vaults into the top echelon of dark fantasists with a blood-chilling roller-coaster ride of a novel, a masterwork brimming with relentless thrills and acid terror.
"Stoker-winner Hill features a particularly merciless ghost in his powerful first novel. Middle-aged rock star Judas Coyne collects morbid curios for fun, so doesn't think twice about buying a suit advertised at an online auction site as haunted by its dead owner's ghost. Only after it arrives does Judas discover that the suit belonged to Craddock McDermott, the stepfather of one of Coyne's discarded groupies, and that the old man's ghost is a malignant spirit determined to kill Judas in revenge for his stepdaughter's suicide. Judas isn't quite the cad or Craddock the avenging angel this scenario makes them at first, but their true motivations reveal themselves only gradually in a fast-paced plot that crackles with expertly planted surprises and revelations. Hill (20th Century Ghosts) gives his characters believably complex emotional lives that help to anchor the supernatural in psychological reality and prove that (as one character observes) 'horror was rooted in sympathy.' His subtle and skillful treatment of horrors that could easily have exploded over the top and out of control helps make this a truly memorable debut." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Mr. Hill uses [the bare bones of his plot] to shockingly good effect, creating a wild, mesmerizing, perversely witty tale of horror. In a book much too smart to sound like the work of a neophyte, he builds character invitingly and plants an otherworldly surprise around every corner." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Heart-Shaped Box is, quite simply, the best debut horror novel since Clive Barker's Damnation Game, twenty years ago. It's the kind of book that the overworked adjectives people use on book jackets relentless, gripping, powerful, a genuine page-turner were really meant to describe, for it's all of those things, and enormously smart besides. A genuinely scary novel filled with people you care about; the kind of book that still stays in your mind after you've turned over the final page. I loved it unreservedly." Neil Gaiman
"Much will be made of the kinship of Hill and his superstar father, Stephen King, but Hill can stand on his own two feet. He's got horror down pat, and his debut is hair-raising fun." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] wrenching and effective ghost story." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Heart-Shaped Box is not as good as the best of [Stephen] King, but it still makes for an entertaining and occasionally frightening read....The urgency of the story and the pace at which Hill tells it are turbocharged to the point where readers will likely be racing through the pages to see what happens next." Chicago Sun-Times
"Joe Hill...draws readers in from the first line and successfully creates a suspenseful and foreboding page-turner that keeps them up long after bedtime....[A] gripping, if grim, read." BookPage
"Hill has written a relentlessly scary ghost story." Bookseller (UK)
"Joe Hill creates a novel that is sure to stand up proudly against any of the classic ghost stories that reside on your bookshelf." Horror World Book Reviews
"[A]n unsettling ghost story that takes what could be a laughable premise and adds so many twists and shocks that readers will be white-knuckling their armchairs by novel's end....Heart-Shaped Box is the perfect Valentine for the lover of good horror fiction." Denver Post
"Leaner and meaner than any of his dad's recent works, Heart-Shaped Box is a frightening, addictive road novel....The chapters are short and hard-hitting think James Patterson, but meatier." Rocky Mountain News
"Heart-Shaped Box truly deserves the superlatives heaped upon it by the publicists who smoothed the path of this first novel's advent." Seattle Times
"[A] vivid, convincing tale that puts the tropes of old-fashioned ghost stories to work in the world of an almost-washed-up rock star....The pictures [Hill] painted colored my dreams and darkened my mood even after I'd put the book down." Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Wild, mesmerizing, perversely witty….A Valentine from hell.”
—Janet Maslin, New York Times
The publication of Joe Hills beautifully textured, deliciously scary debut novel Heart-Shaped Box was greeted with the sort of overwhelming critical acclaim that is rare for a work of skin-crawling supernatural terror. It was cited as a Best Book of the Year by Atlanta magazine, the Tampa Tribune, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and the Village Voice, to name but a few. Award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling Neil Gaiman of The Sandman, The Graveyard Book, and Anansi Boys fame calls Joe Hills story of a jaded rock star haunted by a ghost he purchased on the internet, “relentless, gripping, powerful.” Open this Heart-Shaped Box from two-time Bram Stoker Award-winner Hill if you dare and see what all the well-deserved hoopla is about.
About the Author
The author of the acclaimed story collection 20th Century Ghosts, Joe Hill is a recipient of the Ray Bradbury Fellowship and the A. E. Coppard Long Fiction Prize. His stories have appeared in numerous small publications and anthologies. He lives in New England.