Heart-Shaped Box

I don’t believe in ghosts. I’ve had one spooky incident, though, but it’s not enough to convince me. The aunt of a friend of mine had recently passed away, and he was given her cd collection. I was flipping through them when the stereo turned on by itself. He was convinced his aunt was saying hello, but I just chalked it up to electronics doing weird stuff.  There are people who believe, which is totally fine, but I’m just not one of them, so ghost stories don’t really scare me much. I’m much more terrified by religious demon possession terror, even though I don’t believe in that either, than ghosts. But I do enjoy a good, creepy story.

Heart-Shaped Box is Joe Hill’s first novel, published over 10 years ago. And although, he publishes under the name Joe Hill, his name is really Joseph Hillstrom King. Yes, son of the famous Stephen King. He chose to publish this way in an efforrt to make his way into publishing without being associated with his father. His identity has since been revealed, and I don’t think anyone cares much who his father is, simply because Joe Hill’s work is truly outstanding. I’ve read Horns and The Fireman and NOS4A2 (before I started reviewing books) and really liked them all. However, Heart-Shaped Box might be my favorite. NOS4A2 was the most disturbing, by far, but Heart-Shaped Box has a sufficiently creepy story and interesting characters.

Judas Coyne is a washed-up mid-50s rocker. He has tons of money, no career, and likes his girls young. Not that young, but a good 30 years younger than him. He treats them well until he gets bored, then sends them on their way. One of them ends up killing herself after being kicked to the curb, and her family isn’t happy. This girl’s stepfather recently passed away and is now haunting Jude and his current girlfriend. Haunting is putting it mildly. He is able to inflict harm upon them and guarantees they will both die. Jude and his girl spend the rest of the book trying to escape and destroy this ghost.

If you are a fan of horror novels, or even of Stephen King, you absolutely must read Joe Hill’s work. His works are definitely reminiscent of his father’s, but there’s no coat-tail riding here. Hill has carved his own path in the genre, and I look forward to reading more of his books.



This year, I’m trying to balance books I’m reading for the Popsugar challenge with books that I’ve been meaning to read for awhile. Lexicon was one I meant to read for awhile, but never found a place for it in the challenge categories. I’m a big fan of dystopia and thrillers, so when I found a book that was a bit of both, I was pretty excited.

The story is told from different time periods. You figure out pretty quickly that one period is happening before the other one. The before story tells of Emily her, um, let’s call it an education. She is recruited by a mysterious organization and taught the art of persuasion. Emily learns to categorize people and use certain words on them to get them to do her bidding. However, she gets angry, goes rogue, and unleashes something awful.

The after story is Wil and a secret he has in his head. However, he’s been made to forget this secret, so the people who have kidnapped him are trying to get him to remember. The two stories do converge, and you quickly realize their connection. This book was a really great delve into manipulation and how people interact. It lagged a bit in the middle, so I ended up giving it 4 stars, but overall it was really well-written and creative.