So a few months back, I read Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I absolutely loved Horns, NOS4A2 and Locke & Key (my first graphic novel experience). Needless to say, I had high expectations for HSB. I’ve put off reviewing it because I can’t decide how to put into words how I felt about this book. Or really, if I even wanted to try to put words to it. But I’m trying now, so here it goes.
I grew up with horror. I love dark books. I have never felt that maybe a book was too dark for me. Until now. I had a very hard time getting through this one and I can’t say how much of it is just a personal reaction that is separate from the actual text and world that Hill uses to create this world and story. For this reason, I have hesitated to review it.
The problem for me is that I have a very hard time reading about suicide. Any storylines, jokes, what not that involve the topic, they take a much darker turn for me than I think is actually intended or what most people would experience. So, while I have a very high tolerance for dark books, my saying this one was a tad too dark for me may not have as much weight as if it were a typical grimdark style story with swords, murder, assassins, torturers, or whatever the case may be.
The darkness and my issues with that aside, the storyline for this was very intriguing. Aging rock star, Judas Coyne, is fascinated with the occult. He collects the strange and macabre, so when he is presented with the opportunity to purchase a ghost, how could he turn it down? Turns out, this purchase actually is what it claims to be. And the ghost is not just random, but is set to haunt and terrorize Judas for vengeance.
As one would expect with the theme and the author, the book is dark and haunting. There are thrilling and tense moments, scenes that make you squeamish, events that you just didn’t see coming. I love all these things about Joe Hill’s books. And Heart-Shaped Box definitely delivered on all accounts. Personally, I prefer Horns or NOS4A2 or even Locke and Key, and will recommend those first but this story is also worth reading and is still probably a must read for fans of Joe Hill’s other books.