Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but creepy horror novel, 19 Dec 2013
This review is from: Heart-Shaped Box (Paperback)
Rock star Judas Coyne has a collection of ghoulish memorabilia acquired over the years - some items were sent by adoring fans (including a snuff film), others curiosities he's acquired for himself. When Judas's assistant, Danny, finds a ghost for sale on the internet, Judas decides that he has to have it. Several weeks later he receives an old black suit that belonged to the ghost (an elderly man) in a heart-shaped box. And that's when Judas's problems really start. The ghost is a malevolent entity, sent as revenge for Judas's treatment of an old girlfriend, and it means to drag him and everyone who helps him down, down, down and ride the night-road to hell ...

Joe Hill's breakthrough horror novel has some genuinely creepy moments and slick writing with strong themes of selfishness, guilt and regret. I really enjoyed the shift from domestic haunting to haunted road trip as Judas and his girlfriend, Georgia, go looking for answers from the ghost's vendor but the resolution in the final quarter didn't quite manage to pull it all together and I didn't believe in the reasoning behind the haunting as it seemed to be based on quite a stretch. That said I did enjoy the book and I will definitely be checking out Hill's other work.

Judas Coyne is an interesting character - an aging rock star who seems tired of his fans and his fame and disparages the damaged goth girls that he beds and disposes of. I didn't buy his guilt at the deaths of his bandmates - purely because there wasn't any interaction there and the explanation doesn't come until very late on. However I was interested in his relationship with his abusive father - the scenes from his childhood are difficult to read but believable and I wished that there had been more contemporary scenes with his father and his aunt. Although I enjoyed the development of his relationship with Georgia - particularly the scenes with her bammy, Georgia isn't as rounded (existing mainly as a foil, conduit and sounding board).

The initial scenes with the ghost are great - creepy, threatening and atmospheric - especially as Judas learns more about who the ghost really is and his history. However he loses his sophistication in the final quarter and becomes more monster of the week.

Although flawed, this was an enjoyable read and I'll check out Hill's other books.
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