Heart-Shaped Box

Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill Joe Hill’s debut novel, Heart-Shaped Box, portrays Judas Coyne as an aging Heavy Metal Rock Star who has passed his prime, seemingly weary of the toll of fame. Having lost his bandmates long ago, he now spends his time in Upstate New York surrounded by his collection of occult paraphernalia and accompanied by his two faithful dogs, a toady assistant and the latest in a string of many young groupies. When his obsequious aide discovers an online ad for a “ghost” for sale, Judas feels compelled to purchase the odd item. What arrives appears to be just a dated and well-worn suit that does not deserve its exorbitant price tag. It soon becomes apparent, however, that the suit carries along with it a story and spirit that is far more than Coyne bargained for. This is a ghost with a murderous vendetta that chases Coyne down south. He journeys back to his old hometown, attempting to discover the ghost’s reason for revenge and a release from its curse. Judas Coyne is a flawed character with many despicable qualities, haunted both literally and figuratively. Heart-Shaped Box is well-paced and exciting but does have some blatant holes in logic and confusing plot diversions. There are some rough and violent scenes, and a casual attitude toward misogyny that might make Coyne almost too irredeemable in the eyes of some readers. Hill’s later novels are much more polished and composed, but it is interesting to see how his style evolves from this first effort.