Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Audio Book Review: Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box is a macabre, compelling book that gave me shivers at times. I've never read anything by Joe Hill, and I will be adding him to my list of authors to keep track of.

Jude Coyne, who once was a famous rock star, still enjoys collecting bits of supernatural paraphernalia.  When he gets the opportunity to purchase a ghost, he has no idea what he has gotten himself into. The ghost comes in the form of a black suit mailed to Jude in a heart-shaped box.

Thus begins a terrorizing journey for Jude and his girlfriend Mary Ann (who he calls "Georgia" since that's where she is from.) Heart-Shaped Box is a classic, scary ghost story that brings heart-pounding terror at times, and also made me a bit sick during some of the violent scenes. Jude and Georgia finally decide to leave Jude's home to get away from the ghost, but as the ghost (named Craddock) tells him, he'll never get away. Craddock intends to kill Jude, and everyone who Jude tries to get help from. But why? Why is this ghost so evil? Well, there's more to the story and I'll let you read Heart-Shaped Box to figure that out.  Turns out this wasn't a random on-line  purchase. This transaction was carefully planned by some really evil people.

I don't want to give too many specifics except to say this ghost is tenacious. Jude has two dogs that bring an interesting element to the story. Seems the dogs somehow protect Jude from the ghost. Jude and Georgia get more and more beat up as the story goes on. You really don't know what's going to happen or how this all can end -- and that's a big part of the appeal.

Speaking of the ending, I was worried that things would be left hanging. That we really wouldn't know what happened or the resolution would be incomplete. I can happily say that this isn't the case. I was very satisfied when I finished Heart-Shaped Box.

Most of the time, audio books seem to drag a bit because I only listen to a little at a time. So I hesitate to talk about pacing. I thought it was slow, but I was easily swept back into the story every time I turned it on, so I think it's just the format.

If you like your ghost stories scary, relentless, and a bit violent, Heart-Shaped Box is highly recommended. It's been a long time since I felt those shivers up the back of my neck!

The narrator of the audio is Stephen Lang, and he has this perfect, low, sinister voice. He also does a southern accent very well. I would recommend the audio book format, if you are interested.

Published by William Morrow, 2007. HarperAudio.
Copy obtained from the library
384  pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. I listened to this audio as well, though I had a hard time with it. I think a lot of it was the pacing, as you said. I felt like it dragged on quite a while, and as a result the suspense wasn't big for me. I might have done better with this one in print!

  2. I would recommend Horns, I enjoyed that one much more than this one. Glad you enjoyed it.


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