“Heart-Shaped Box” by Joe Hill was a creepy fucking book. I felt it was fitting to post this review on Halloween. It was creepy, but it was also really good. I am looking forward to reading more of Joe Hill’s work.
In “Heart-Shaped Box” the main character, Jude, has an unusual hobby of collecting the strange, and eerie. In his collection are pieces of art by a serial killer, a skull damaged by medieval brain surgery, various disturbing trinkets, and even a snuff film. As a semi-retired rock star, he even has a collection of girls that could easily be mistaken for vampires. “Jude collected them in almost exactly the same way the Pied Piper had collected rats, and children. He made melodies out of hate and perversion and pain, and they came to him, skipping to the music, hoping he would let them sing along.” (Heart-Shaped Box, pg 41). Jude finds his world turned upside down after he adds a dead man’s suit to his collection. The dead man came along with the suit – as advertised – and suddenly Jude is confronted with a very real horror in his home.
Jude was an interesting character. He was a dick and you kind of wanted to hate him, but at the same time, you want him to triumph over the terror that has come down on him and the girl of the season. His peculiarities, we learn, go way back to his childhood. “He liked the gloosh of it when he bit into it, the faintly corrupt, sticky-sweet sap, the rotten-soft texture of the cherry itself. He imagined he was helping himself to a chocolate-covered eyeball. Even in those days, Jude took pleasure in dreaming up the worst, reveled in gruesome possibilities.” (Heart-Shaped Box, pg 46). I loved this passage; the visualization that Joe Hill was able to create was impressive. I was reminded of a different author that tends to write horror novels as well – Stephen King. Who just so happens to be Joe Hill’s father. So it makes sense that he would have the ability to tell a story that makes you hold your breath while you’re reading. A book that you have to read with the lights on, yes I was impressed with Joe Hill’s writing.
Would I recommend this book? Not to everyone, that’s for sure. But if you like to read scary stories, this is something you should definitely add to your list. I really enjoyed it and am already trying to get my hands on more of Joe Hill’s work. Just don’t read “Heart-Shaped Box” without some space in your freezer to hide the book.