Ready for a ghost story? Not the cheesy kind that you make up to amuse your scout troop around a campfire. No, Heart Shaped Box is scary! It will keep you up nights, wondering about the ghost in the story.
Jude is a famous (but aging) rock star. He has a personal assistant to take care of things for him. He has a troubled girlfriend, who is about half his age. He has an big interest in strange and creepy things, which he has made a collection of.
One day, Jude’s personal assistant finds a site on the internet that is auctioning off an actual, real, honest-to-goodness ghost. (Before you go there, no, the website is not ebay! Over and over again, the reader is reminded that it was some other site. Just to be safe, I assume).
The ghost is said to be someone’s father, who is still hanging around the house after his death, and unintentionally freaking out his granddaughter, who can see him. Won’t someone invite this ghost to visit them instead, and give the kid some peace?
Jude decides to go ahead and buy the ghost, before the bidding can end. He doesn’t quite believe that he’s bought a real ghost, but, he also doesn’t entirely disbelieve the idea. The ghost arrives in a black, heart shaped box, along with the black suit that belonged to the dead man. Things get really freaky after that!
Jude starts to see the ghost of this dead man sitting on a chair in his hallway. It is clear that this ghost can see Jude too (and his publicist, and his girlfriend) and that the ghost wants to hurt them all. When things get too weird, Jude tries to contact the woman who sold him the ghost in the first place. Maybe he can just send him back? It doesn’t turn out to be anywhere near that easy.
At first, the reader might think that Jude is just having some remarkably bad luck. But then, things about Jude’s past relationships are revealed, and it seems like maybe he deserves at least a part of what he is getting. Then the story twists again, gives you some more details about what really happened, and turning everything the reader might have thought up to that point completely on its head. I found myself changing my mind about just who the “bad guy” of the story really was several times.
The story is frightening, and bloody, and full of both vengeance and love. It moves along at a fast pace, and would make a great movie. Reading this reminded me of some of the earlier works of Stephen King. There’s a good reason for that resemblance. Joe Hill is a pseudonym used by Joseph Hillstrom King. He is the son of Stephen and Tabitha King.