I will sell my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder.
For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn't afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts: of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What's one more? But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost. It's the real thing.
And suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door...seated in Jude's restored vintage Mustang...standing outside his window...staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting - with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one hand.
A multiple award-winner for his short fiction, author Joe Hill immediately vaults into the top echelon of dark fantasists with a masterwork brimming with relentless thrills and acid terror.
©2007 Joe Hill; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
"Powerful....[Hill's] subtle and skillful treatment of horrors that could easily have exploded over the top and out of control helps make this a truly memorable debut." (Publishers Weekly)
"Mr. Hill elicits honest empathy for Jude, who turned his stage persona into a nightmare version of his fears and must now figure out what strength he has left for legitimate battles. This dynamic is both frightening and funny, and the book weaves together those two threads in clever ways." (The New York Times)
Maybe. But this book doesn't make me a Joe Hill fan.
Yes it did turn me off from other books by Joe Hill.
Stephen Lang is ok. Just that I didn't like the story,
The first part was creepy and I feel that Joe Hill has a way with words. It's just that the story deteriorated into some car chase, action type of story.
I expected something dark and creepy, instead I got a fist-fight between man and ghost.
The story is original and moves along at a good pace, but it is the characters, and how the author develops them that has me downloading more Joe Hill books. I just wanted to sit and listen to the conversations between the characters.
Georgia. She seems like a stereotype when first introduced but as her story is revealed she is a sweetheart, someone who has had a rough life that hasn't changed who she truly is.
Stephen Lang did a great job of moving between the characters, both male and female, as well as interjecting a Southern accent when needed.
Judas Coyne. His motivation, his perseverance, his desire.
With regard to the plot and performance, I was very pleased with this audiobook. I'm a Joe Hill fan and I hadn't yet read this so I was pleased to see it was available. And Stephen Lang does a great job in the performing of it. The only issue I had was that between a few of the breaks in the story, there is this ridiculous electronic music that has zero to do with the story at all. Your lead character is a metal singer; if you're gonna have music at breaks, make it metal. Anyway, not a huge gripe but I did find myself baffled by this addition.
Hill is a solid writer. He's able to tell an interesting and creepy story without it running all over the place. His characters have depth and he drops in little details that both flesh out the story and foreshadow coming events.
This is the first of Lang's performances I've heard but I was impressed. He shows a hell of a range and manages to make the various character voices distinguishable and engaging.
The story just kept going and going...had to take breaks to slow my heartbeat!
I really liked the dogs. :-)
All scenes great.
I shivered, trembled, got anxiety and high blood-pressure, can't stop jumping when I hear a bump in the night...
The book is so much fun! I highly recommend!
Retired teacher and interpreter. I read classic and contemporary fiction, as well as Mystery/Suspense/Horror, Fantasy&Sci-fi.
I really love the choice of narrator here. Stephen Lang perfectly captures the Southern growl of the main character, the slow evil drawl of the bad guy. ..Perfect!
Cool premise, good action, suspenseful story arch...
If you enjoy King/ Koontz style horror, you'll enjoy this book!
Horrifying, Entertaining, Thrill-ride
Georgia was my favorite character. Her character was wonderfully developed, like an onion. Layers being peeled back revealing more and more facets of personality as the book unfolds.
Stephan Lang performed the Dead Man wonderfully. Very creepy, his voice haunted.
I have a nack for predicting the outcome of plot lines in horror stories - but this kept me on my toes the entire time. The plot twisted and turned, blurring the lines between reality and non-reality. You felt the entire ride with the characters. I can't tell you how many times my jaw dropped in horror as Stephan Lang wove images of creepy events taking place. I was sad when it was over it was so good. What a thrill ride.
Hill's freshman novel does something that countless aspiring horror novelists dream of doing and yet so frequently come just short of accomplishing - it channels the spirit of his father, while speaking in a voice all its own.
At the book's strongest moments, that voice is the gravely baritone of Judas Coyne as he slowly changes from a grizzled and septic ex-rock-god into a grizzled yet tendered ex-rock-god. It's a slow and trudging arc, and it costs Judas and his loved-ones more than most would be able to bear, but it's a fulfilling evolution from someone we immediately disdain to someone we can at least be happy for. That he is spiritually redeemed (so to speak) by the strength and will of two women he learns he's loved too little is also a slow, quiet thing that at times ventures into the realm of objectification, though that's just another hurtle that Judas must confront in his fight for salvation from his haunting - both by his literal ghost and by his own inner ghosts. It's also worth noting that those women don't need Judas to save them from anything, even though he couldn't save them even though he wants to.
I wouldn't say that the book was at any point "frightening." More like "unnerving" and "uncomfortable," which is a fine thing for a horror novel to be, especially when, as is the case with Heart-Shaped Box, the foul things that are most unnerving are not paranormal in nature, but horrifically human. Abuse. Deceit. Deep, plummeting regret and the fear of harming another unwittingly. These are repugnant and all-too real in our world, and they pull at our gut just as they pull at Judas'.
What brings this particular presentation of Hill down a peg for me is purely in the narration. Not that Lang doesn't do a satisfactory job at reading the general prose - I found his voice quite soothing and level, actually. That was part of the problem in parts, though - he was far too level, especially when the story calls for the characters to be terrified, or in reeling pain, or an inch from death. He picked a voice for each character, and then stuck to it unflinchingly, in all but one case. His voice of the ghost Craddock is all over the place, beginning as a low, rumbling Right-Wing Televangelist's Georgia-drawl and ending with a wispy, old prospector's bark. Again, it's a slow transition, but one that was never warranted or earned. It felt like he simply forgot how he began recording that particular voice by the end of the novel.
There are other minor quirks I have that keep this from being a full-fledged classic in my heart - the too-neatly-wrapped-up ending, the reasoning behind the survival of a particular character, a few inconsistencies of paranormal rules and expectations - but on the whole, a book that is almost a classic is far and away better than most books published.
I would like to
This isn't my favourite, but it is still a good story.
Good story, good narrator. But N0S4A2, and Horns are better!
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