Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box was reviewed by Gypsi here.

I don't care what you believe, or how much money you have, going out and buying a ghost just isn't good business. But that's what Jude Coyne does, and now the ghost has promised to kill him.

The "hey-let's-buy-a-ghost-off-the-internet" deal made it a little hard to warm up to Jude Coyne at first. A man who does that demonstrates a special high-octane flavor of stupid. But Jude Coyne is a special high-octane flavor of dude, and very soon I was in his corner. Having lots of money and some potato-sized cahones can turn a bad situation around in a hurry.

Young Joe Hill hit a homerun with this, his first novel. It's bright, tight, entertaining, and it moves at a good pace. It takes a lot of skill to tell a ghost story and pepper it with back story and nudge a pair of characters from one side of the likability meter to the other. Hill does all this while avoiding most of the traps of young writers.

However, I have to call attention to two minor problems. Mr Hill doesn't know much about guns, and should have had a 'gunnie' look it over. Secondly, as a Northeasterner, Hill's depictions of Southern life run to the stereotypical. Write what you know, Mr Hill. I recall Stephen King made quite a career writing about places and people that he intimately knew.

I strongly recommend Heart-Shaped Box. Joe Hill has a bright future.

Seems like our house has gone Joe-Hill-crazy this week. After gorging ourselves on Locke & Key and Heart-Shaped Box. I have Horns waiting to be read, and I'd better start it before Gypsi gets her hands on it!