By Joe Hill
Completed October 2, 2008
A long time ago, I gave up reading about ghosts and gore and things that go bump in the night. I think it was a result of reading Stephen King’s Pet Semetary, which bothered me in a nightmarish way. I figured I wasn’t cut out for thrillers and spooks.
When Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, released his debut novel, Heart-Shaped Box, my interest in reading this widely acclaimed story was piqued, but then I reminded myself: “It’s not your usual genre.” I prefer books about “real” characters with “real” problems. Ghosts don’t usually fit that bill.
But I decided to take a plunge and picked up Heart-Shaped Box, saving it to read in October to get me in the mood for Halloween.
And after the first page, I was immediately sucked in.
It’s the story of an aging rock star, Jude, who collected occult items. He had the opportunity to purchase a haunted suit for $1,000 and he gobbled it up without a thought. Little did he realize that the suit was really haunted. Haunted, in fact, by the stepfather of one of Jude’s former girlfriends, who allegedly killed herself over the break-up with Jude. The ghost, named Craddock, was out for revenge, and Jude was in his sights.
There was just enough creepy in this book to keep the story moving, but it did not go overboard. I would compare it to a really good episode of “Lost” – strange enough to be interesting, slightly plausible if you belief in that sort of thing, and downright entertaining. The plot and character development was spot on, and Craddock gave me the willies. What else could one want out of a ghost story?
Let’s face it: Joe Hill inherited the right set of genes, but my hat’s off to him for making his own kind of spooky story. I look forward to reading his second novel when it’s released. I can only imagine how proud Papa King must be of his talented son.