Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped BoxHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started reading this, I wasn’t aware that the autor is Stephen King’s son. With hindsight, I’m happy I didn’t because I would have started the book with a number of preconceptions. The truth is that this debut novel is way, way more creepy and genuinely frightening than anything I’ve read by Stephen King.
The premise is simple enough: ageing rock star Judas, with a mild fixation on the occult, buys a dead man’s suit from an online auction site. It’s supposed to come with the ghost of the old man who died in it. And sure enough, it does. And sure enough, from the moment the rock star opens the heart-shaped box it comes in, his life is pretty much…screwed.
The story is a roller-coaster ride of thrills and spills as Judas tries to stop the ghost from killing him. Sounds very mundane and la-di-da doesn’t it? Only, it’s anything but. The way the ghost interacts with the characters in the book is freaky as hell.
They say that the dead can’t hurt the living and, technically, this ghost doesn’t either. The roundabout manner in which he attempts to achieve his purpose (killing off anyone close to Judas. And killing off Judas, of course)is chilling. Everytime you read about a fresh attempt, you will feel the skin on your back crawl.
And in between said attempts, you can have fun with some bona fide action sequences. Win-win. Unless you count the fact that right after finishing the book I spent two sleepless nights.
There are two twists in the story – I saw through both of them, but weirdly this didn’t reduce my pleasure (if being scared witless can be described as a pleasure) by one iota.
If you thought that ghost stories are for kids, have a read through. And good luck when the darkness falls.

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