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Publisher's Summary

Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals...a used hangman's noose...a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is widely known. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, a thing so terrible-strange, Jude can't help but reach for his wallet.

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

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award winner, Thriller/Suspense, 2008
  • Thriller Award, Best Novel, 2008

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Lesley
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 02-23-07

Yikes! Five stars for fright

I bought this book for the concept: a dead man's suit that comes with a ghost. I figured it would be good and scary, and I wasn't wrong.

I read a lot of stories that I think are going to be scary, but then I'm disappointed when it turns out the monster really isn't much of a monster. But parts of Heart-Shaped Box scared me so much I could barely listen, even in a brightly-lit health club with dozens of other people there.

I won't describe any of those sections for fear of spoiling other readers' fun. Let's just say that some stuff happens that scares even the main character--a guy who owns a cookbook for cannibals.

Although this book is frightening, and a thriller, the writing doesn't suffer. All the characters had fully realized story arcs, even some of the minor ones who turned out later to be more important than they seemed at first.

I particularly liked the main character, Judas Coyne. Even though he has apparently been mean to others through some of his life, I found him fairly easy to sympathize with through most of the action. By the end of the book he'd won me over--I was cheering for his side all the way.

The production of the audiobook itself was good, too. The narrator did a fine job, even with voices for female characters, which is often hard for a guy. Between sections, there are a couple of musical breaks--the first one startled me, but only because I wasn't expecting it.

I definitely recommend this one for people who don't mind a good scare. I hope Joe Hill has some more on the way.

80 of 80 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Patricia
  • Long Beach, CA, United States
  • 11-30-07


Intricately written and extremely descriptive, this story leaves you wondering who the real victims/villains are...the roles are not clearly defined and each character crosses back and forth across the line of decency. Yet, it becomes fairly evident 'who's the evilest one of all' as the book progresses...but then what?

This book was clearly written by someone who knows his way around character development. My main criticism is that the reader was tediously slow in his reading and could have done more to act out the characters. I had to put my IPOD speed to "faster" just so I wouldn't give up because of the slow pace. Not sure if this was all the fault of the reader, but most of it probably was. It's well worth listening to, but at times will give you an uneasy feeling, so I'm not sure that I would put this book in my top 5 favs.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Susan
  • Bartonville, TX
  • 10-07-14

Nightmare in a suit

I could not put this one down. As good as NOS4A2 just not as freaky/creepy. This was a crazy, paranormal, mystery served with a little romance on the side. Joe Hill is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors because of his ability to keep a good steady pace along with original stories in each of his books.

Jude is a rock star that loves to collect macabre objects until one day when he purchases a Heart Shaped Box that sends his whole life into a tailspin. Unfortunately everyone in his life is drawn into his treacherous paranormal, nightmare that may just suck them all down the death road. Great, sinister, October read with believable characters and top notch narration.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Scott
  • culver City, CA, USA
  • 10-04-07

Go for it!

a great ride. deeply thought out, highly entertaining.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Spooky, Creepy, and Smart!

One word comes to mind after listening to Heart-Shaped Box.....TALENT! The book was extremely spooky and creepy. The characters are well written with depth. Had a hard time pausing the book, I did not want to leave the story or characters.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Sad when it ended

I just discovered Joe Hill and am so glad I did. I loved the characters and the narrator made the story even more enjoyable. Thanks for a great listen

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Keep the lights on!

I bought the book because it was Joe Hill, who is Stephen King's son, and I was prepared to be disappointed. He has, after all, nearly impossible shoes to fill. But I wasn't disappointed!

I don't read much that really scares me, but this book was chilling. From the very first chapter, where an aging rockstar buys a ghost on a not-e-bay auction site, it simply doesn't stop. The characters of the book are believable and well-defined, and the plot is unpredictable.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A well-crafted thriller

I agree with those who have compared this book favorably with Stephen King's work. Hill does an excellent job of creating fully fleshed-out characters and a viscerally chilling narrative, using a very accessible prose. I didn't love the ending, and I thought the paranormal stuff verged on silly at times, but it's still a very entertaining read. Solid narration by Mr. Lang, too.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Haunting Tale

Joe Hill's "Heart-Shaped Box" was a huge surprise. He is an outstanding writer, and the tale he weaves is hypnotic. Joe is a detail writer, and in the frist 3rd of the book, it would have been easy to stop listening. But I was hopelessly drawn into the tale. I stuck with it, and what a fabulous and haunting tale it turned out to be! Well worth a listen.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A solid ghost story

Nicely crafted, Joe Hill compares favorably with dear old dad here...original characters and a nice take on your basic ghost story.

Some twists and turns, nice character development-Ifelt I got to know Jude Coyne and MaryBeth. The "Koontzian" involvement of mans best friend is a bit derivative but nicely done.

Hill improves with each new novel..nice to have another solid paranormal mystery writer around, who hasn't yet fallen into recycling his well known plots.

However, Hill does have a hard act to follow in his chased genre. We constant readers will have to see if he's able to insert originality in the genre King owns.

Narration was also solid. Worth your credit!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful