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71 of 82 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Heart-Shaped Box, April 15, 2007
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This review is from: Heart-Shaped Box: A Novel (Hardcover)
Judas Coyne is an aging rock singer with an unusual hobby. He collects macabre items related to death. He even has a snuff film. So one day when his business manager tells him somebody is selling a ghost in an online auction he just can't resist. Little does he know he is getting exactly what he paid for. Once the suit containing the ghost arrives in a heart shaped box the wild action begins as Coyne and his girlfriend, MaryBeth (who he calls Georgia), are in a fight for their lives. It turns out the ghost, Craddock, has a grudge against Judas Coyne and he's come back to seek revenge.

Heart-Shaped Box is definitely a fast paced, action packed ghost story. Hill does an excellent job in characterization. He is really masterful at making the characters and their personalities come alive as we empathize with both Coyne and MaryBeth as the tale unravels and Coyne slowly begins to understand why Craddock has come back from the dead to seek his revenge. In fact, Hill does and excellent job in conveying the personality and character of the ghost as the reader learns more about Mr. Craddock and his past. As the story develops, with wild harrowing scenes, Coyne begins to learn how he might just be able to survive this haunting. For its fast pace and excellent character development Hill definitely should be commended.

But there is a dark side. Frankly as the novel moves along it starts to read, at times, like a B grade horror movie, which for this reader was a bit of a turnoff. The later scenes get more and more sappy where Craddock started reminding me of Freddy Krueger from the movie Nightmare on Elm Street and the story really started getting rather campy. As a result, I found the novel entertaining enough, but rather average on the whole.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 7, 2008 4:06:10 PM PST
Sagesmoke says:
Excellent review...I had almost exactly the same reaction...great start, then downhill; another one that has this flaw is David Searcy's "Last Things" which is really great....for about 3/4 of the book, though it does gon on a bit in spots; the ending however, really left me disappointed and I felt ripped off. Where are the really good Horror writers? Like S.King Used to be?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2008 7:55:59 PM PST
C. Baker says:
Thanks for the comment. I have not read a lot of horror, but even the recent S. King I have read has gone south.

Posted on Nov 17, 2009 4:30:46 PM PST
wunderbeast says:
I agree completely. After reading his short story collection 20th Century Ghosts, I was so looking forward to this but was disappointed. I didn't even finish reading it. I do recommend 20th Century Ghosts though, it's terrific! There are stories in there that made me sweat a little reading it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2010 4:26:53 AM PST
M. E. Smith says:
I second Wunderbeast's comments. Heart-Shaped Box was alright as a debut novel, but after reading 20th C. Ghosts, I realized that it (HSB) was probably a short story that he expanded. His short stories are much better work. If you liked the first part of this novel, you surely will enjoy Hill's short fiction.
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