Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A metal rock musician, Jude, is a collector of misbegotten things (e.g. girlfriends, horrible artifacts, and memories). Then he buys a ghost from an Ebay knock-off auction site, and finds that he has been attacked by the sister of his last girlfriend. The sister sends Jude the ghost of her dead Stepfather. A ghost now wants to hunt Jude down and bring him to hell. Will the ghost succeed in killing Jude?
The book is a good study of the psychology of fear. Jude collects the morbid because he wants to catalog his fears. He hopes that cataloging the fears will allow him to control the shadows that go bump in the night. A blanket laid on a chair is not a ghoul, but just a blanket? A coat rack is not a man with a deformed back, but just a coat rack? Joe Hill rationalizes our fears in order to open their effect on us (the reader). Can we just dismiss the primal fears, or is fear of the supernatural something we must take seriously?
Joe Hill takes Jude on a wild ride. The story overall was good and moved me enough to finish it.
However, Jude seemed to exist in a blank room with no atmosphere. I could not sense a difference between the setting in the North and the setting in Georgia, or even Louisiana. Mr. Hill might have created this atmosphere to illustrate the idea of music and geometry. The geography of this book is as blank space with noise. The noise shapes the geometry of the stage.
The characters besides Jude were two dimensional and did not seem real. The ending was forgettable because it did not bloom. The continuous crackle of tension never stopped my breath, as good horror books should do. The book was a decent beginning for a developing writer.
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