Even though “Heart-Shaped Box” has been out for over 15 years, this book is absolutely evergreen and deserves a spot on your reading list this fall. After viewing ‘The Black Phone’ last year and instantly loving the film, I decided to seek out more of Joe Hill’s work. What better place to start than with his debut novel? For those unfamiliar with Joe Hill, it’s worth mentioning that he’s the son of famed horror writer Stephen King. While the family lineage is notable, Hill has carved out a name for himself with this work, delivering a unique take on the horror genre. With “Heart-Shaped Box” he skillfully finds the right balance of chills and psychological depth.
The story revolves around Judas Coyne, an aging rock star who collects morbid memorabilia. When he buys a ghost online—housed in a heart-shaped box—what starts as a unique addition to his collection turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival. This isn’t a straightforward ghost story; it’s a journey into the past, complete with regret and unsettled scores.
What sets “Heart-Shaped Box” apart is Hill’s ability to craft flawed characters that are relatable. Judas isn’t a stereotypical washed-up musician but a man burdened by his life choices. As the ghostly occurrences escalate, the line between true hauntings and personal demons blurs.
The plot is tight, with twists that keep you invested in the outcome, and Hill’s writing style complements the pacing. He knows when to pull back and let the reader’s imagination fill in the gaps, which can be a challenge for any writer.
“Heart-Shaped Box” is a tale of haunting in every sense of the word—ghosts and emotional baggage with a narrative that holds your attention from start to finish. It’s a memorable, unsettling journey that confirms Joe Hill as a distinct and formidable voice in modern horror.
So, whether you’re a veteran fan of the genre or just looking for a gripping story, you definitely don’t want to skip this one.