Heart-Shaped Box
  • Heart-Shaped Box
  • Heart-Shaped Box

Heart-Shaped Box

4.1 479
by Joe Hill
     
 

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Sooner or later, the dead catch up . . .

Judas Coyne was a collector. The bizarre, the uncanny, the grotesque. A cookbook for cannibals. A used hangman’s noose. A snuff film. Many of these objects were gifts from the black-clad fans who made his metal band a legend and made him rich.

But not all. When his personal assistant told him there was a ghost for sale

…  See more details below

Overview

Sooner or later, the dead catch up . . .

Judas Coyne was a collector. The bizarre, the uncanny, the grotesque. A cookbook for cannibals. A used hangman’s noose. A snuff film. Many of these objects were gifts from the black-clad fans who made his metal band a legend and made him rich.

But not all. When his personal assistant told him there was a ghost for sale on the Internet, Jude knew he had to have it for his private collection, didn’t think twice. He should have. Jude has spent a lifetime evading ghosts -- of an abusive father, of the bandmates he betrayed, of Anna, the suicidal girl he loved and abandoned. But this spirit is different. This one means to chase him to the edge of sanity.

His new acquisition -- delivered to his doorstep in a black heart-shaped box -- is the restless soul of Anna’s vengeful stepdaddy. Craddock McDermott swore he would settle with Jude for ruining his daughter’s life. Soon, everywhere Jude turns, Craddock is there: behind the bedroom door; in Jude’s restored vintage Mustang; outside his window; on his widescreen TV. Waiting -- with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand.

If ever there was a case of caveat emptor, this is it . . .

About the Author
The author of the acclaimed story collection 20th Century Ghosts, Joe Hill is a recipient of the Ray Bradbury Fellowship and the A. E. Coppard Long Fiction Prize. His stories have appeared in numerous small publications and anthologies. He lives in New England.

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Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
The buzz leading up to the publication of this book included one of publishing's worst-kept secrets: Joe Hill, the author of Heart-Shaped Box, is also Stephen King's son. This revelation really wouldn't mean anything if Hill's debut novel weren't a singularly unforgettable horror masterwork that will delight and disturb anyone who reads it. The apple, it seems, doesn't fall far from the tree…

Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre -- his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman's noose, Aleister Crowley's childhood chessboard, etc. -- so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it. The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker's sanity…

Regardless of Hill's literary bloodlines, the comparisons between Heart-Shaped Box and his father's works will be inevitable. Both share a narrative voice that is witty, engaging, and darkly stylish -- at once morbid, poetic, and profoundly moving. Additionally, both are masters of imagery, ambiance, and allusion. The different sections of Heart-Shaped Box, for example, all reference popular heavy metal songs (Zeppelin's "Black Dog," Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt," etc.), and Coyne's dogs are named after original AC/DC band members. Blending the wild world of rock 'n' roll with the baleful realm of the supernatural, Heart-Shaped Box marks the beginning of the literary reign of Joe Hill. All hail the new king! Paul Goat Allen

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061147937
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/13/2007
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Heart-Shaped Box
A Novel Chapter One

Jude had a private collection.

He had framed sketches of the Seven Dwarfs on the wall of his studio, in between his platinum records. John Wayne Gacy had drawn them while he was in jail and sent them to him. Gacy liked golden-age Disney almost as much as he liked molesting little kids; almost as much as he liked Jude's albums.

Jude had the skull of a peasant who had been trepanned in the sixteenth century, to let the demons out. He kept a collection of pens jammed into the hole in the center of the cranium.

He had a three-hundred-year-old confession, signed by a witch. "I did spake with a black dogge who sayd hee wouldst poison cows, drive horses mad and sicken children for me if I wouldst let him have my soule, and I sayd aye, and after did give him sucke at my breast." She was burned to death.

He had a stiff and worn noose that had been used to hang a man in England at the turn of the nineteenth century, Aleister Crowley's childhood chessboard, and a snuff film. Of all the items in Jude's collection, this last was the thing he felt most uncomfortable about possessing. It had come to him by way of a police officer, a man who had worked security at some shows in L.A. The cop had said the video was diseased. He said it with some enthusiasm. Jude had watched it and felt that he was right. It was diseased. It had also, in an indirect way, helped hasten the end of Jude's marriage. Still he held on to it.

Many of the objects in his private collection of the grotesque and the bizarre were gifts sent to him by his fans. It was rare for him to actually buy something for the collection himself. But when Danny Wooten, his personal assistant, told him there was a ghost for sale on the Internet and asked did he want to buy it, Jude didn't even need to think. It was like going out to eat, hearing the special, and deciding you wanted it without even looking at the menu. Some impulses required no consideration.

Danny's office occupied a relatively new addition, extending from the northeastern end of Jude's rambling, 110-year-old farmhouse. With its climate control, OfficeMax furniture, and coffee-and-cream industrial carpet, the office was coolly impersonal, nothing at all like the rest of the house. It might have been a dentist's waiting room, if not for the concert posters in stainless-steel frames. One of them showed a jar crammed with staring eyeballs, bloody knots of nerves dangling from the backs of them. That was for the All Eyes On You tour.

No sooner had the addition been built than Jude had come to regret it. He had not wanted to drive forty minutes from Piecliff to a rented office in Poughkeepsie to see to his business, but that would've probably been preferable to having Danny Wooten right here at the house. Here Danny and Danny's work were too close. When Jude was in the kitchen, he could hear the phones ringing in there, both of the office lines going off at once sometimes, and the sound was maddening to him. He had not recorded an album in years, had hardly worked since Jerome and Dizzy had died (and the band with them), but still the phones rang and rang. He felt crowded by the steady parade of petitioners for his time, and by the never-ending accumulation of legal and professional demands, agreements and contracts, promotions and appearances, the work of Judas Coyne Incorporated, which was never done, always ongoing. When he was home, he wanted to be himself, not a trademark.

For the most part, Danny stayed out of the rest of the house. Whatever his flaws, he was protective of Jude's private space. But Danny considered him fair game if Jude strayed into the office...something Jude did, without much pleasure, four or five times a day. Passing through the office was the fastest way to the barn and the dogs. He could've avoided Danny by going out through the front door and walking all the way around the house, but he refused to sneak around his own home just to avoid Danny Wooten.

Besides, it didn't seem possible Danny could always have something to bother him with. But he always did. And if he didn't have anything that demanded immediate attention, he wanted to talk. Danny was from Southern California originally, and there was no end to his talk. He would boast to total strangers about the benefits of wheatgrass, which included making your bowel movements as fragrant as a freshly mowed lawn. He was thirty years old but could talk skateboarding and PlayStation with the pizza-delivery kid like he was fourteen. Danny would get confessional with air-conditioner repairmen, tell them how his sister had OD'd on heroin in her teens and how as a young man he had been the one to find his mother's body after she killed herself. He was impossible to embarrass. He didn't know the meaning of shy.

Jude was coming back inside from feeding Angus and Bon and was halfway across Danny's field of fire...just beginning to think he might make it through the office unscathed...when Danny said, "Hey, Chief, check this out." Danny opened almost every demand for attention with just this line, a statement Jude had learned to dread and resent, a prelude to half an hour of wasted time, forms to fill out, faxes to look at. Then Danny told him someone was selling a ghost, and Jude forgot all about begrudging him. He walked around the desk so he could look over Danny's shoulder at his computer screen.

Danny had discovered the ghost at an online auction site, not eBay but one of the wannabes. Jude moved his gaze over the item description while Danny read aloud. Danny would've cut his food for him if Jude gave him the chance. He had a streak of subservience that Jude found, frankly, revolting in a man.

Heart-Shaped Box
A Novel
. Copyright © by Joe Hill. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Joe Hill is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Horns, Heart-Shaped Box, and NOS4A2. He is also the Eisner Award-winning writer of a six-volume comic book series, Locke & Key.

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Heart-Shaped Box 4.1 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 479 reviews.
cmor4les More than 1 year ago
I heard a lot of people raving about this book and the "rental line" was too long, so I decided to buy it and find out what others liked about it.

Ghosts...check
Creepy...check
Left me feeling a little uneasy in the dark...check
Made me appreciate contemporaries again...check

Great story, real characters and I liked that the main character was not the typical young, hot-blooded male. He's mature and has been through and has seen a lot of crap during his time. I didn't like him at first, but he grew on me and in the end, I loved him.

The book draws you in and keeps you on the edge the entire length of the book with its twists and turns. It's graphic, but endearing at the same time.

This is a keeper.
Emily_E More than 1 year ago
Who knew that "horror-genes" exist? Obviously, Stephen King's son got HIS share!...lol! It's been a long time since a book has impressed me to the extent where I STILL get shivers--months after resding the book--when I think about it! Bravo! I'll look forward to many more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never read a book that literally made me scared to be alone. This is the one. It's a great read that keeps you wondering what is next. I couldn't put it down but I was scared to pick it up at night..Great book.
WayneWalls More than 1 year ago
Joe Hill has crept into my house and made me turn on my lights to check for ghosts. This novel will make one think twice about antiques. The main character Jude is a death metal rocker with a sick twist on colletibles. He collects aynything to do with death and the occult, he even has a snuff film in his collection. So when he comes across a chance at buying a ghost online he doesn't think twice about it. This purchase may just cost him more than money, it may just cost him his life.

This novel was so good that I had to check twice to make sure that it was his first one. This book was phenomenal and it reminded me of someone else. As I was looking up the author I found out that he comes from a distinguished family. He is the son of Stephen and Tabitha King, they obviously know a little bit about writing.

This novel kept me reading well into the night, at the expense of my own fears. The way that he uses shorter chapters with a long one interspersed in between makes it seem like you have read for an hour when it has been four. The characters seem believeable and it is easy to start to believe that you are reading a biography instead of a fiction novel.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes horror, suspense, or just a good book to read. Stephen King fans will be happy with this book, it made me think back to his older books and want to go back and re-read them. Next on my list is to pick up Joe Hill's new book, 20th Century Ghosts. Pick up your copy today, just read it with the lights on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Joe Hill has successfully planted his writer's flag in the world of fiction with this incredible debut novel. He launches his story using a classic horror device - a haunted object, and then obliterates all cliches and standards where the genre is concerned. His story was thrilling, terrifying, and beyond comparison. It's rare to read an author who can create such originality using such a common theme.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Protagonist: Judas Coyne is one of those selfish characters who you are supposed to dislike at first but come to love in the end when me becomes more selfless. A good job is done with his character, but this guy is nowhere near John Edward Marinville from Stephen King’s Desperation, or Darrell form The Walking Dear, or Sawyer from Lost. He is a whole character who acts according to the way he was drawn up. Antagonist The bad guy is a ghost, Craddock McDermott. Though this character is mostly well thought out, it would had been better if the author would have gone more into how his hypnotic methods work. Dean Koontz has a few novels where the bad guys use hypnotism, and their methods are spelled out very well, really making the reading thing. Hill doesn’t really do this as much as just saying that his character has methods that work. Storyline and writing: The story did drag in placed, especially at the beginning. In general the theme of the book is a good idea. It could have been a lot shorter, though.  Overall There are flashes of a good writer here. I would read him again, to see if he’s gotten better. But overall, I didn’t think this was a really good book. 
newjoehillfan More than 1 year ago
Really scarey! I gave it to a friend to read and she gave it back a few days later saying she was afraid to continue. I enjoyed it.
rvialet More than 1 year ago
This novel started off wonderfully, with a very creepy, original ghost story with genuinely scary sequences, but then lost it's steam rapidly due to a plotline surrounding the ghost's motivation and backstory
Alli28 More than 1 year ago
I usually don't read "horror" stories, but noticed all the good reviews. Characters were extremely well-developed; I felt like I knew them each personally. Definitely a book to read during the day, in the light.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Rock star Judas Coyne loves collecting gruesome macabre junk. He always checks E-Bay and other on-line sites to see if any collectibles are for sale. He recently purchased a suit at an online auction in which the seller claims the attire is haunted by the ghost of the dead owner.--------------- Judas thinks of five degrees of separation when he learns who the ghostly owner of the suit is apparently his new possession belonged to the late Craddock McDermott, the stepfather of a superfluous groupie he tossed aside before she committed suicide over being coldly discarded by the famous rocker. Craddock vowed revenge when he was alive but had to wait for death to complete his quest as his spirit plans to kill Judas.---------------- The dueling lead characters make this a fascinating psychological ghost story as nothing is quite like it seems. Readers will start off thinking Judas is a cold hedonist and Craddock is kindhearted stepfather who cannot rest until he obtains an eye for an eye. However, agendas and deeper motives surface during the exciting story line that will have the audience stunned. Horror fans will believe in ghosts at least in Joe Hill novels.---------- Harriet Klausner
aegCA More than 1 year ago
If you are a Stephen King fan, especially "classic" King, you must read his son Joe Hill! Excellent book, couldn't put it down. Looking forward to reading everything else he has written!
TwilightLover1313 More than 1 year ago
I'm reading Heart-Shaped Box right now and I can barely put it down! I love it! I love the characters, Jude, Danny, and Marybeth (Georgia)! Joe Hill is amazing!
JimRGill2012 More than 1 year ago
Joe Hill’s first novel is an enjoyable enough—if at times uneven—diversion. He builds upon a clever premise (What would happen if you bought a ghost on the Internet?) and fashions a tale about an aging rocker—Jude, the main character—who achieves redemption by avenging the evil misdeeds of the ghost he “buys.” The tale features many aspects of the classic hero myth, with Jude as our unlikely champion. When he is first visited by the ghost, he is reluctant to battle it but eventually embarks upon a journey in order to defeat it. That journey outward leads him home and is, of course, actually a journey inward, for—by redeeming the evil misdeeds of the ghost—he ultimately redeems himself. He encounters damsels in distress and receives supernatural assistance via the spirit animals of his two pet dogs (Angus and Bon—yes, references to AC/DC). There’s even an element of the Oedipus myth thrown in for good measure. In all, “Heart-Shaped Box” is a fun read and eclipses the by-the-numbers formula of many a ghost story. My hope is that this novel is a mere appetizer for heartier subsequent novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first Joe Hill experience and I was beyond impressed! He had me jumping and clinging to the book, then sighing with relief. Then I was back to gasping, hunched over the book waiting with anticipation. What a nail biter! An amazing read by an amazing author. Way to go, Joe!
SSH83 More than 1 year ago
This book was wonderful! It grabbed me from the first line until the last. It is a wonderfully complicated story and many times I wondered if it was going to end abruptly but it didn't. I definitely recommend this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable read. I found myself having vivid and twisted dreams about lost friends and family members. Rarely does a book derail the standard role my loved-ones play in my dreams but this one did and that magnified the creepy factor of the book dramatically. Excellent first novel if what I hope will be a long and productive writing career. Now if only I could get an un-troubled night's sleep...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first of his novels that i have read. I look forward to reading more of his writings.
kmath444 More than 1 year ago
It's been a long time since I read a book that I could not put down. This one grabs you from the beginning. A main character that you want to win but never know if he will. A ghost you'd like to kill for a second time! Great book.
chevyguy2010 More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books you just zone into while reading. It's different then any other ghost story I've read, but still a very good book. The ending was amazing. I recommend this to anyone. Now that I've read this I'm definitely going to purchase the next book, Horns.
maddymonkey More than 1 year ago
I couldn't help thinking while reading this novel that it's a book Stephen King might produce if anybody had the nerve to edit his manuscripts these days. Lean writing, nicely spooky scenes and explicit about the necessity of dog ownership should you choose to tangle with a vengeful ghost. Didn't put it down for about six hours.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For the first time in a long while, I truly felt a chill while reading. There were several genuinely scary passages in this book. A well-written foray into the supernatural, it was always grounded in psychological reality with characters that were original and multi-dimensional. This is a very promising start to what should be a long and successful career.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading this book,I was having some trouble getting into it - I thought it was slow and was going to be like a 100 other ghost stories I had read but for some reason, I couldn't put this book down. I loved it! I thought it was very well written and I have looked high and low for other books by Joe Hill. This is truly one of the best ghost stories I have read. I look forward to more good ghost stories from Joe Hill.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had nightmares. I finished the book several days ago and it's still with me. I'm having trouble starting a new book and usually I start a new book right after I finish one. If that doesn't say it all, then....this is an amazing book! The characters are so real. And you find yourself so invested in them that you want to somehow help them. It's like a great horror show where you are in the audience wanting to scream, 'NO! Don't do that!' There are scenes in the book that were so vivid it was like a little movie running in my head. Great mental pictures. There were times, especially around the end of the book, where I seriously could not put the book down. Horror is not generally my favorite genre, but this one was so well written I'm glad I read it. Now, I'm telling all my friends to read it. Now, when will Joe Hill have another one to read? Can't wait!
Anonymous 15 days ago
Best horror book I have ever read.
Anonymous 4 months ago