Heart-Shaped Box


Author: Joe Hill

Title: Heart-Shaped Box

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 374

Geographical Setting: Upstate New York, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary:  Aging rock star Judas (Jude) Coyne is a collector of macabre memorabilia.  His assistant, Danny, receives an email about an online auction in which a woman is selling her deceased step-father’s ghost, which haunts one of his old suits.  Judas wins the auction, and shortly receives a package of a heart-shaped box, with the dead man’s suit inside.  Soon, strange things start happening, as the dead man begins to appear to Jude.    Jude discovers that the ghost has ties to someone in his past, and that winning the auction for the old man’s ghost was no accident, but actually a sophisticated and morbid plan for revenge.  Quickly, Jude realizes that the ghost is trying use hypnosis and mind tricks that he had been an expert in when still living, to get him to kill himself and those around him.  Eventually Jude and his girlfriend, Marybeth, realize that in order to rid themselves of the ghost, they must confront the woman that sold it to them, and so they head out on a supernatural and bloody road trip of the American south.

Subject Headings: Horror Fiction; Music – Rock and Roll; Ghosts; Hypnosis; Paranormal

Appeal: Fast-paced, builds in intensity, chilling, foreboding, haunting, suspenseful, detailed characters, flawed characters, cinematic, flashbacks, imaginative, profanity, violence

Three terms that describe this book: Chilling, fast-paced, engrossing

Relevant non-fiction works:

Night Stalks the Mansion: A True Story of One Family’s Ghostly Adventure by Constance Westbie and Harold Cameron (The story of one family’s ordeal with a supernatural presence in their Philadelphia mansion)

Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross (The biography of one of the rock stars used as a model for Judas Coyne,  and whose song the book was titled after)

Hypnosis for Beginners by Dylan Morgan (A beginners guide to hypnosis, a skill used by the ghost to wreak havoc on Judas and Marybeth)

Relevant Fiction works:

The Dark Half by Stephen King (A horror novel about a supernatural being taking revenge for his own death)

The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin (A murder mystery involving a legendary rock band)

Darkness Falling: A Novel of Vampirism and Rock and Roll (Another novel that incorporates rock and roll into a horror/paranormal story)

Lee R. Sigman

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