Saturday, 31 March 2007

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box
Joe Hill
(Gollancz €??)

JUDAS Coyne is a rock star who collects creepy memorabilia. He buys a ghost and it haunts him.

Nice premise - but it's Joe Hill's rocketing story that keeps the reader turning the pages, eyes bugging, shoulders up around the ears, back pressed into a corner.

This is one scary book - but it's also funny, with a protagonist who starts off unlikeable and segues into a real hero, kind, smart, protective and a fighter.

Joe Hill is, as publicists quickly discovered, Stephen King's son, and he's a chip off the old block. He writes so like his father that at first people assumed it was one of King's periodic forays into pseudonym.

At first Judas (born Justin) is a spoilt rocker, living with the latest of a succession of Goth strippers whom he calls by the names of their state of origin because he can't be bothered to distinguish one from another.

Then Craddock the spook moves in. He's dressed like Johnny Cash, he has black scribbles for eyes, and a quick Google discovers that in life he was a psy-ops torturer in Vietnam. Not a very nice ghost.

So Judas and girlfriend Georgia take to the road, with their animal familiars (his doggies), pursued by their hypnotic, murderous haunt.

Truly brilliant. If you're worried about something, this is the book to read; you'll forget all about it, so petrified and intrigued will you be.


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