Wednesday, September 24, 2014

RIP IX - Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill

" Horror is rooted in sympathy, after all, in understanding what it would be like to suffer the worst."

                                                                                                                        - Joe Hill

Judas Coyne has seen his share of  'the road'. He's spent years running from a horrible childhood in a podunk region of Louisiana. He's become a hardened, jaded, heavy metal rocker with a following of Goth groupies who he identifies by the states from which they've run. He's toured extensively and spent years on the road with his band, his groupies, his hangers-on, and his team of lackeys. He's a hardened man with a penchant for all things dark and creepy, so when his assistant suggests that he buy a ghost as a gimmick, well, what the Hell. And Hell is just what arrives at the door via UPS.

When a dark suit arrives in a large box, Jude thinks he's been taken for a sucker. Poor guy. Within hours, a presence establishes itself and it means no good for any involved with Jude. As for Jude? The elderly man making his presence known means to take Jude for a ride on 'the night road' - a ride that will take him straight to Hell.

Joe Hill's story might just have gone all gory and ghoulish, like so many other schlocky horror reads and don't get me wrong, it does have its moments of gore and disgust. Hill redeemed himself in my eyes, though, because he spent so much time exploring Jude's relationship with his girlfriend. Marybeth, otherwise known as Georgia, might go the way of all Jude's other 'lovers', but for the ghostly presence of 'Old Man Craddock'.  Marybeth and Jude are bonded when they are faced with defending themselves from the hatred of a ghostly father of one of Jude's previous 'girls'. What they face forces them to look at each other, the past life of the girl that Jude 'sent home' to Craddock, their own individual pasts, and the horrid future they face if they can't help right wrongs that must be reconciled. Jude's character undergoes an awakening that leads him to recognize just how flawed his life has been when it comes to women. He re-evaluates how he treated 'Florida', Craddock's daughter and in so doing, he recognizes a dark secret that Anna had - a secret that destroyed their relationship and brought on a tragic sequence of events. Jude, with Marybeth's love and support, finally does the right thing.

This was a pretty good audio book. I listened to it on a road trip out to New York and during meal prep time at home ... Stephen Lang did the reading and was fine in the character of Jude Coyne. The producers provided these edgy, sawing guitar riffs that began each CD ... it always put me on edge and served to get me a bit tetchy before beginning to listen to the story - a good trick. 

No spoilers, here. All I'll say is that it ends well.

shared at the review site for RIP IX - check it out and join the reading!


  1. Well, this certainly sounds like a horror story with a difference. Your book reviews are so well written, Susan, they rival any that I’ve read by people who do this for a living.

  2. I also enjoyed The Heart-Shaped Box and found it intelligent and thought-provoking. Later I was interested to find out the author is the child of Stephen and Tabitha King. Imagine growing up in that book reading family!