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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mini Review - Heart Shaped Box

I don't read many horror books or stories about the supernatural (apart from Stephen King - like everyone else, I s'pose), but every now and then one manages to fall open in my hands and I find myself lured right in. One such has done that right now - Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill (Gollancz). I'm no fan but I'm guessing that it's no accident that this is also the title of a Nirvana song.

It's a creepy thriller about Jude Coyne, an aging ex-death metal rocker who is a collector of all manner of macabre artefacts. When he comes across the opportunity to buy a ghost via an internet auction he dives right in thinking it would be great publicity. But what he actually achieves is the unleashing of a malevolent being, the stepfather of an ex girlfriend, actually, who will pursue him to his grave...The dead pull the living down. Down into the cold. Down into the hole. You will die...

Pushing aside the supernatural aspect for a moment though, Heart Shaped Box is as in-depth a character analysis as you can imagine, a deeply involving self-examination for Jude as he is forced to face his past and the fact that he has been a cruel man who is also haunted by the events of his childhood.

Horror fans will get a real kick out of this debut novel with plenty of moments where the hair on the back of your neck will stand up. But fans of good meaty psychological thrillers will find this fascinating reading with more than a smattering of disturbed noir elements.

But hang on a second, earlier I mentioned Stephen King - did anyone pick that up??? Well Joe Hill is actually the son of - 'course, you probably already knew that, but then again not knowing takes the pressure off King the younger. Either way, this is an outstanding debut novel no matter who his father his.

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