Different generation = Different writing styles. Personally, this is how I look at Joe Hill’s writing in Heart-Shaped Box. I did a mini-rant in my last review about Stephen King fans arguments on his son’s debut novel from 2007. The most common trait that follows author’s children, in general, is their works are shoved under the “critics” microscope and compared to their famous parent’s works. Joe attempted to escape this by going under his pen name. Obviously, that did not work out so well and the rest is history. In reading this, I reviewed his work as I would for any other author. Every author is unique and they should be treated accordingly.
Heart-Shaped Box is no ordinary ghost story. It plays upon the torture of mental manipulation and abuse. Arguably, readers who never have experienced this trauma or have seen it used in different books can misinterpret it in the novel as the ghost not taking full advantage and killing our former rocker main character, Judas Coyne. On the contrary, the ghost, Craddock, is teasing and torturing Judas with his power. Throughout the beginning of the novel, Craddock even told Judas he was going to make his revenge worthwhile. Therefore, why force physical torture when you can inflict mental and manipulate your victim to inflict physical pain upon themselves and others? That to me is more frightening.
Now, it’s time to break down the charms to this chilling novel!
Breaking Down The Charms
**First, Read the info on my Book Charms Here
1. Charm of Intelligence
“Should This Book Have Been Published?”
YES! This book was rightfully published. It’s not your run of the mill type of ghost stories. This one makes you care about the characters in play through the flashbacks and dialogue among the characters. Each time I put the book down, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to pick it up again.
2. Charm of Learning
“Did I learn anything new or interesting?”
If you are not familiar with hypnotism, it can be either innocent or downright sickening. The way Hill describes Craddock’s past is riddled with the ways he used his talent to manipulate soldiers and even family members in his care. Remember Vietnam? Now there is a sickening scene involving Craddock using his “gift” on a soldier that will leave your skin crawling. So did I learn anything new or interesting? Pretty much, yes. Hypnotism grants the ability to do more than give people the ability to dance around. No, Vampire’s mesmerizing skills do not apply.
3. Charm of Character
“Do I enjoy reading about these characters? Do they speak to me or leave me wanting to ditch them on the side of a long, begotten road?”
Jude is a cold, collected former rock and roller who has seen many things in his life. He grew up with an abusive father and negligent mother on their family farm in Louisiana. For years, he longed for an escape to which he found it in his music. He managed to escape through fame and becoming well-known through his band. After the death of two of his band members, the band broke up – leaving Judas to his collection of strange objects and slew of women. I guess you can say, he built up a reputation with his collection and not staying in relationships very long. The only exception was Craddock’s stepdaughter. Sadly after her and Jude broke up, he moved on with Marybeth and his ex-girlfriend committed suicide. Craddock blamed her suicide on Jude, causing future events to come to pass after Jude unknowingly purchases Craddock’s haunted suit.
Marybeth, goth and former erotic dancer, is one of those characters who causes you wonder if you’ll truly like them. Hate to admit but she kind of grew on me! The more her character opened up, she proved to be an extremely caring, selfless character.
Craddock? No comment on him. My views on him would involve me wanting to hire Sam and Dean (Supernatural fans ftw). Salt and Burn the Bones!*
*(I will mention, though, that Craddock cannot be destroyed by the regular Supernatural rules means.)
4. Charm of Agility
It’s the perfect pace! Not too fast, not too slow, it’s all just right for me.
5. Charm of Romance
“Does this element make me long for it in my life, cringe, or ship the couple in question?”
Marybeth and Jude’s relationship is pretty complicated. Since Jude doesn’t like to discuss his feelings, him and Marybeth’s relationship at the beginning of the novel is pretty distant. Throughout the story, it progresses to turn out to be more than it originally seemed. It’s one of those relationships where it takes a disaster to make the couple realize how they truly feel about one another.
6. Charm of Worth
100% Worthy to be set alongside other memorable Horror/Ghost Story novels!
7. Charm of Length
The ending felt a little rushed, not going to lie. Wish it could have been drawn out a little more.
8. Charm of Imagery
Holy crap! I could see the whole story unfold before my eyes! No, it didn’t keep me up at night but it followed me into my dreams, for sure.
9. Charm of Belief
The ideas are not ridiculous but I don’t believe this could completely happen in real life.
10. Charm of Everlasting
It’s almost been 10 years since the first release of this book. People are still reading it today and I believe it’s stood against time so far. Do I see people continuing to read it in the future? I think so!
Wracking up the breakdown, I give this book a rating:
9 out of 10 Book Charms!
Do you think you may read this book during October? Have you read any of Joe Hill’s novels? Let me know in the comments below!