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.

Advertisements

Lincoln in the Bardo

So, this book wasn’t for me. I’m just going to say that right up front. However, it deserves all the awards it is getting. The author, George Saunders, has written a really interesting book that I think many people will enjoy. But it was just too “out there” for me, in a non-traditional sense.

The story mostly takes place in a graveyard with ghosts telling the story. And I use the term story very loosely. Young Willie Lincoln has just passed away and is being interred soon. The ghosts observe President Lincoln coming to visit his son’s body. They describe what they see, discuss their own lives, squabble with each other, and are a variety of characters.

Interspersed between the graveyard descriptions, Saunders tells us about Lincoln and his son. I believe (I could be wrong) these are all non-fiction passages with cited sources after each statement. This was much more interesting to me. Considering I’m not usually a fan of non-fiction, I preferred hearing the details surrounding Willie’s death and how his family dealt with it.

I had no idea what to expect with this book. And I won’t say I was disappointed or that I even disliked the book. I think Saunders has tapped into a new style of writing and is simply a genius about it, but it just didn’t work for me. But I still recommend the book because it is so uniquely written.