Once I discovered Joe Hill, I knew that I wanted to read Heart Shaped Box. I ordered it through Amazon as a used book in very good condition. If you buy a lot of books (as I do), this is a great way to save a little money and still be able to get the books you want.
Judas Coyne, an aging rock star, collects things that are out of the ordinary – a noose, a snuff film, etc. He receives an email offering him the chance to purchase his own ghost. It comes with the suit worn by the man who died. Being the intentionally weird person/character that he has created, he doesn’t let the offer pass and purchases the ghost. Bad decision. Turns out (SPOILER), the ghost is sent to him by the sister of a former lover who killed herself. The ghost is their stepfather and will not stop until Jude is dead (along with anyone who offers him comfort.)
Jude isn’t a totally sympathetic character but that’s part of why I liked him. He chooses women who are too young for him and then runs them off when he thinks they are getting too close or if he’s had enough. His current lover, Georgia/Marybeth, starts out as someone I just didn’t care for at all. But, slowly I came to care for her too. She is one tough cookie! (Her real name is Marybeth but Jude calls all of his lovers by the name of the state in which they grow up.) I also loved Bon and Angus, Jude’s dogs.
Heart Shaped Box was a tense read for me. I found that my shoulders would be so tight that I’d have to put the book down and relax before going back. There were times I had the book in one hand while the other hand rubbed my forehead for comfort. And, yes, I cried at least once. I won’t spoil it but if you are an animal lover, it’s a tough one.
LOVED this book. 5/5 stars. Have you bought it yet?