Heart-Shaped Box

by Joe Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed how this book really made you stop and question your perspective of its characters. There’s a moment where everything you thought shifts dramatically and the author does a really good job of making this transition smoothly. The spooky aspect was well written and extremely unsettling. While there were a few uncomfortable moments these felt justified in terms of belonging in the narrative. Nothing felt sensationalized or over the top just to shock.

All My Thoughts

May contain spoilers.

When this book started I had a particular expectation. The author presents us with a very specific kind of character and presents the story in a very specific way. This feels intentional and actually worked for the story. We go into it making assumptions about what sort of person the main character Jude Is going to be. He is a retired metal rockstar with an obsession for the macabre. We learn a great deal about how he treats his relationships, having fun for a while and getting bored thus insisting the woman move on. He definitely comes off as a character not to be liked and for the most part I went into the book feeling that way.

As the story progresses though, it is interesting to see how Jude grows as a person. When faced with a spirit out to get him and everything he loves naturally he kinda drops the ball. But his current fling Marybeth is really the star of the show. She isn’t highlighted quite that way, but you can really see how her steadfast dedication to helping him in this literal life or death situation forces him to step up to the plate and rethink his decisions. I loved Marybeth. She was so important to the plot just by being there.

I found it interesting how very drastically the story shifts from presenting itself one way to becoming something entirely different. You assume the plot is a standard ghost story. The ghost, Craddock, wanting revenge for Jude’s supposed hand in his stepdaughter’s suicide, which was Jude’s relationship just before Marybeth. But this changes a bit out of the blue for me. To be honest, I really couldn’t place what it was that tipped Jude off to it being something more sinister and secret. I suppose we are meant to assume that because he himself is a bit “twisted” the truth came to him more easily? Whatever the case on that front it was a bit awkward but didn’t change my overall enjoyment.

Once the secret of Craddock’s real intentions and his involvement with his stepdaughter comes to light the story does get a wee bit uncomfortable but didn’t feel like it was there strictly for the shock value. I did enjoy seeing Jude’s morals really come out here. The ending also felt satisfying. I liked seeing what essentially felt like an epilogue just to see how everyone got on with their lives after.

Overall

Decent suspense book with a few tonal shifts that work for the overall plot. A bit twisted and uncomfortable but with a satisfying ending.

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