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Heart-Shaped Box (GOLLANCZ S.F.) [Hardcover]

Joe Hill
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Mar 2007 GOLLANCZ S.F.

'Buy my stepfather's ghost' read the e-mail.

So Jude did.

He bought the dead man's suit, delivered in a heart-shaped box, because he wanted it: because his fans ate up that kind of story. It was perfect for his collection: the genuine skulls and the bones, the real honest-to-God snuff movie, the occult books and all the rest of the paraphanalia that goes along with his kind of hard/goth rock.

But the rest of his collection doesn't make the house feel cold. The bones don't make the dogs bark; the movie doesn't make Jude feel as if he's being watched. And none of the artefacts bring a vengeful old ghost with black scribbles over his eyes out of the shadows to chase Jude out of his home, and make him run for his life . . .

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; First Edition, First Impression edition (15 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575079126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575079120
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joe Hill is a recipient of the Ray Bradbury Fellowship and the winner of the A.E. Coppard Long Fiction Prize, William Crawford, World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild Awards. His short fiction has appeared in literary, mystery and horror collections and magazines in Britain and America.

Author photo (c) Shane Leonard

Product Description


A relentlessly scary ghost story. (THE BOOKSELLER)

"Heart-Shaped Box is a horror novel that is scary within ten pages. It takes no time at all to get going after which it holds you in its jaws and doesn't let you go. A brilliantly pitched novel that marks the debut of a major contributor to the field." (John Berlyne SF REVU)

"While the novel's occult elements are horrific enough, the true horror is the very human cycle of abuse, as victim becomes victimiser. And the redemption is achieved without recourse to sentimentality." (Eric Brown GUARDIAN)

"He's successfully woven strands of family drama and American road movie with his horror, and that horror itself combines traditional motifs with images all its own, old-fashioned ghost stories with uncanny applications of modern technology. Joe Hill's debut is certainly the work of an important new horror voice." (Alex Sarll PRESS ASSOCIATION)

"The slick sensory prose, snappy dialogue and a handful of spooky creative touches amount to a well packaged box of tricks. A satisfying box of Black Magic." (Stuart Weightman STARBURST)

Sexy, scary and modern. (Karen Parsons LINCOLNSHIRE ECHO)

Disturbing, scary, the morbidly guilty forebodings building to a superbly dark crescendo. (SFX)

"Gory, exhilarating and surprisingly tender stuff. There's fresh blood on the horror scene." (METRO)

Chilling and disturbing. (SO LONDON)

There are scenes of great intensity in Heart-Shaped Box, and others of great humor. Jude is a wonderful creation, a fascinating blend of immaturity and world-weariness, lovable because of, not in spite of, his many flaws. (STRANGE HORIZONS)

Hill¿s debut novel is as assured a debut novel as I have ever read, regardless of genre. Heart-Shaped Box, itself an entertaining and superb novel, offers hints of a great writing career to come. (SFFWORLD.COM)

I couldn't put Heart-Shaped Box down until I was good and done. The chracter of the sountern-fried undead dowser and hypnotist Craddock creeped the hell out of me. (Peter Murphy HOT PRESS (Ireland))

Joe Hill has gone straight for the jugular with his debut horror story. (He) more than proves his birthright. (Henry Sutton THE MIRROR)

The King ain't dead yet, but long live the new King. [An] excellent debut novel. (THE DAILY STAR)

Once you peel the pages of Heart- Shaped Box, the addictive nature of the writing that has made Stephen King among the most famous living writers in the world has clearly been handed down. (THE LIST (Scotland))

Stephen King's son turns out to be sexier, smarter and cooler than his dad with this tale about a fading death metal star who buys a aghost over the internet. (THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

"A dark fantasy in the great American tradition. Joe Hill is Stephen King's son and a worthy successor in the family business." (Roz Kaveney TIME OUT)

Hill writes the supernatural stuff with skill and conviction. (THE LONDON PAPER)

"Joe Hill certainly makes an impressive entrance. He has successfully woven strands of family drama and road movie with his horror, which combines traditional motifs with images all its own; old fashioned ghost stories with uncanny applications of modern technology. Joe Hill is an important new horror voice." (THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH)

Book Description

A compelling and claustrophobic supernatural thriller from a remarkable new author.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good buy 19 July 2010
By gaviota
Even if Joe Hill hadn't blown his cover, you would immediately pick up on the fact that he's Stephen King's son on his writing style alone. As I was reading the book, more than once I had to stop reading and think I wasn't actually reading a Stephen King novel but his son's. The same style, even Stephen's irony which I love, is all there.
Brilliant book!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars American gothic 20 Jan 2009
I'm a big fan of supernatural horror (ie, ghosties!) and when I spotted this as a staff recommendation at my local bookshop I immediately snapped it up and went home to read it.

I loved the premise - a modern tale of an aging rock star who buys a haunted suit on the internet. So simple and so full of narrative promise.

The first few chapters were truly chilling. Jude's first encounter with the ghost - the spirit sitting quietly, head down, in an old chair outside his bedroom, Jude creeping past trying not to be noticed - resulted in a sleepless night for me. The sheer simplicity of the descriptions, the silence and the menace, were very effective. I woke the next morning and wondered if I should read the rest of the novel before sleep, or somewhere a little more public and comforting during the day. However, the remainder - and bulk - of the story, while quite compulsive, lacked the same chill factor. There were wonderful touches - particularly the ways in which the ghost tormented Jude through the radio, TV and even an electrolarynx in a crowded diner and how he climbed out of an old heart-shaped sweet box on the floor of Jude's childhood home - but it was like watching an enjoyable horror movie, enjoying the imaginative thrills but never really feeling terrified, or particularly tense.

For me, one of the narrative's weaknesses was the lack of real fear on the part of the main protagonists. If I had to imagine being relentlessly stalked by a vengeful spirit, determined to kill me and anyone who attempted to help me, I think the fright would kill me long before the ghost did. And this is what I expected to feel when reading the novel. But Jude, whilst seriously ticked off, is more than a match for his adversary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Possibly one of the most romantic stories I've read and I was surprised to find such a complex, modern love story used as the cement to build and hold everything else in place. Works well and I found myself drawn into the relationship between Jude, burnt out middle aged rock star, and his much younger fragile 'Goth' girl. There's even more 'love' in the form of Jude's two dogs. Hill shows a huge amount of emotion building the relationship between man and dog and his themes of animal spirits was more than moving on a couple of occasions. I was surprised by the huge amount of human emotion and warmth in this novel and, to be honest, Heart Shaped Box is much more the story of relationships, and two people on the road to redemption, than it is a horror. In that way I was somewhat disappointed because this just isn't scary, not on any level, though it does possess a decent level of creepiness at the beginning.

The opening sequences of Heart Shaped Box introduce Jude and explain his famous, wealthy, meaningless lifestyle which has left him so bored and jaded he calls his girls by the American State in which they were born rather than by name. He's lost most of everything he ever cared about but, as the plot moves along, a series of reveals opens up a history of abuse and neglect which help explain his mind set and make him easier to like.

When Jude buys a ghost from an online website, yes honestly, events begin to spin violently out of control as a psychotic spirit with the gift of hypnotism closes in and turns Jude's world upside down.

Without a doubt 'the ghost' is vile and the more he's around the more complicated and devious he becomes but; he's a threatening, dangerous character existing mostly in the real world and never becomes demonic or particularly frightening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Loved It!!!! 6 Dec 2013
By Kirstin
Format:Kindle Edition
Having been a fan of Stephen King for most of my life, I knew what I looked for in a good creepy book and this book delivered!! I did not know at the time who the author was, I had never heard of Joe Hill before and it wasn't until I went online after finishing the book to see if he had written anymore that I found out he was Stephen King's son, talent obviously runs in the family! I have now read all Joe Hill's books and would highly recommend them all; he is a superb writer, with stories that keep you hooked until the end, fantastic!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading 26 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
The author has managed the difficult job of writing some pretty awful characters, with few redeeming features and, during the course of the novel, turned them into people you really root for.
The plot is fast paced with some surprisingly tender moments to counter the horrors that the players face.
Off now to buy his latest book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An eerie read 17 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the second Joe Hill books that I have read after 'horns' and I enjoyed it just as much. It was a more atmospheric read and even though I'd say I don't find books of the horror genre scary this definitely had an eerie feel to it. You do wonder through the story how the main characters could possibly end the curse which is put on them and feel that the ending could be inevitable but it does throw a few surprises in there. My only criticism is that I found the main character a bit unlikeable and even though this isn't something that would put me off it does make it harder to root for them. Books that offer something alternative are always the ones I look for and this is worth a read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Horror Books written
I love Joe Hill so knew I was going to enjoy this one. It's one of the best horror books I've ever read and his dad Stephen King would have been proud of this one. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Wesley Geer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,Exciting,Fantastic
Excellent reading kept me gripped from the beginning actually finished the book in 2 days!! :)
Published 4 days ago by Mrs
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
I bought this after being ridiculed so much for reading and re-reading Steven King and very little else. He's brilliant, great imagination and lovely contemporary writing style
Published 7 days ago by Sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 18 days ago by Mr. Kenneth Otoole
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic.
I enjoyed 'Heart-Shaped Box' from start to finish, it was well written, intense and at time, just plain scary! Read more
Published 29 days ago by Paula Mc
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyed this one
Very readable, enjoyed this one. Good characters and ultimately a thoughtful book about time and loss and redemption. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Emma T
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly excellent
I am surprised and pleased to say that...after much trepidation, and reluctance.....I have given Joe Hills book a go and award it 5 stars. Read more
Published 1 month ago by anthill1956
5.0 out of 5 stars A new talent
I honestly don't know where to start. I have to say, that I usually don't read these kinds of books (horror fiction). And guess what? I loved it! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Laura
5.0 out of 5 stars good an creepy !
This was an excellent read. Very creepy , and a real page turner. I will definitely read more by this author. If you like Stephen King, this is for you !
Published 2 months ago by Meena S
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, action-packed and enjoyable.
I’ve been aware of Heart-Shaped Box for years, and it’s always been on my ‘to read’ list. I’m not sure why I put off reading it, because the idea of a ghost story involving a... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Laura W
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