Monday, October 5

Joe Hill: Heart Shaped Box

An aging rock star, with a collection of the macabre, buys a supposedly haunted suit from an internet auction. His purchase arrives in a black heart-shaped box and as advertised comes complete with a ghost. But unlike the gentle spectre he thought he’d bought, the entity he now owns is pure malevolence.
He soon discovers the ghost is the revenge seeking step-father of an old girlfriend who supposedly suicided in the wake of their break up. He’d been somehow tricked into accepting the haunting by his ex’s sister (the whys and wherefores of which are never satisfactorily explained). He immediately tries to return the spirit to her and so begins the ghost’s murderous rampage against him and those closest to him.
He runs with his current girlfriend but there is no place where they can hide and their efforts to exorcise the ghost uncover his ex’s perverted family history and its murderous secrets.
I can give no more detail without spoilers so suffice to say the guy comes out alive-though only just.
This story starts off well. I can’t say I particularly liked the main characters, who felt a little too clich├ęd at times, but I overlooked that since the writing has an appropriately dark feel to it and there is a definite creepiness present.
But as the story progressed the piling of trouble upon trouble for the main characters became quite repetitive and tiring. They never convincingly try to save themselves and the only defences they have against the spirit are discovered accidentally. By about two thirds of the way through, the story starts reading like the script of a second rate horror movie.
It does have a satisfactory ending with all the loose ends neatly tied in believable bows but somehow that doesn’t quite make up for the sagging middle.
Overall, a reasonably spooky book but lacking scare factor and substance.-Lynn

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