Book Review: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

This was the second of three books that my brilliant wife gave me for my 51st birthday, the first was The Institute by Stephen King (read my review here). Most of you probably know that Joe is one of Stephen and Tabitha King’s children and that he writes under the pseudonym Joe Hill as he didn’t want publishers or the public to be swayed by his famous father. However, once people saw Joe it was fairly obvious who he was related to.

Heart-Shaped box was Joe’s first published novel, and he had almost resigned himself to earning a living as an un-credited comic book writer. However, a small publisher wanted to put out an anthology of Joe’s short stories, most of which had already seen the light of day, but asked for a couple of new ones. Heart-Shaped Box was supposed to be one of them, but it grew as the unlikeable main character refused to die.

The main character, Jude, is an aging rock star who buys himself a ghost, as you do. As expected, the ghost isn’t a fan and wants Jude dead. The book feels slightly cliched, especially when Jude and his girlfriend use an ouija board to talk to the dead. However, the it is well written and there are a couple of neat twists and turns. At one point Jude mentions that him and his girlfriend might not be the bad guys in this story.

Over on Goodreads and there are some very polarising reviews, with more than one or two 1-star reviews. I gave it 4 stars, but 3 and a half would be more fair. It would appear that his later books have been better received, so I probably will look out for them, or maybe even watch the film version of Horns staring Daniel Radcliffe.

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