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  • Heart-Shaped Box

  • Written by: Joe Hill
  • Narrated by: Stephen Lang
  • Length: 11 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (171 ratings)

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Heart-Shaped Box cover art

Heart-Shaped Box

Written by: Joe Hill
Narrated by: Stephen Lang
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Publisher's Summary

Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals...a used hangman's noose...a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is widely known. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, a thing so terrible-strange, Jude can't help but reach for his wallet.

I will sell my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder.

For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn't afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts: of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What's one more? But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost. It's the real thing.

And suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door...seated in Jude's restored vintage Mustang...standing outside his window...staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting - with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one hand.

A multiple award-winner for his short fiction, author Joe Hill immediately vaults into the top echelon of dark fantasists with a masterwork brimming with relentless thrills and acid terror.

©2007 Joe Hill (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers

What the critics say

  • Audie Award winner, Thriller/Suspense, 2008
  • Thriller Award, Best Novel, 2008

"Powerful....[Hill's] subtle and skillful treatment of horrors that could easily have exploded over the top and out of control helps make this a truly memorable debut." (Publishers Weekly)
"Mr. Hill elicits honest empathy for Jude, who turned his stage persona into a nightmare version of his fears and must now figure out what strength he has left for legitimate battles. This dynamic is both frightening and funny, and the book weaves together those two threads in clever ways." (The New York Times)

What listeners say about Heart-Shaped Box

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Jury Still Out

This was the first book by Joe Hill I've had the pleasure of consuming. I enjoyed his writing, descriptive without being frilly or monotonous. His characters are well developed and very human with real, believable problems even though they're supernatural problems, they're introduced so well they're almost believable too.
The narrator did well with the reading, giving the proper tone to a horror novel and voicing all characters.
My only complaint is the MUSIC that just randomly pops up at the end of a part. WTH!? Whoever decided to stick music into a narrated novel needs a smack.
I want to say more about the novel and how wonderful it is, but I'm so angry about that music scaring the crap out of me it's all I can really remember about it.

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5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing, Difficult to Enjoy

Hill has written better stories, and better characters. Worst thing about this audiobook is the voice actor. He gives this dull, slow, low-affect reading throughout the whole book. I lost track of what was going on at several points because the reading is so flat. Sometimes I could hear Lang reading through a yawn and while holding in a sneeze. Exacerbating the situation was Lang's strange approximation of a woman's voice, with very little variation between female characters. In a book where characters are possessed, you might have to rewind to catch when the change starts because his voice doesn't change if they're women.
Lastly, there's this sudden loud "rock-esque" riff that plays between sections. It doesn't fade in, and almost cuts off the voice actor in sections. Halts any immersion you might have managed.

Re-Record this, and maybe it'll be worth readers' time and credits.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

pretty good

Reminded me of Dean Koontz, with his magic dogs and brilliant lights from doors to the afterlife. ending seemed kindof slapped together. still a good listen.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Music was distracting

The book was good- but the sporadic music was distracting - I noticed multiple reviews mentioning it- and didn’t think it could be that bad. But it really was. It makes the book feel cheap and cheesy- had nothing to do with the overall tone of the book- just shakes you out of the moment.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Ok, what??

This book is definitely creepy! The narrator did a fantastic job adding to the “scary” element. I had to stop listening a few times when it was dark haha. 10/10 recommend

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Creepy

Creepy story, well built up story line until the last chapters which fall flat of the surmounting tension this thriller develops over the course of the book. Still worth a listen for the thriller/horror fans.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Disturbing and Complex

A creepy and surprisingly emotional journey that follows a former rock star and his girlfriend, who find themselves haunted by a malevolent spirit after making a reckless purchase.

The concept of HEART-SHAPED BOX hooked me right away: Who doesn’t love a story where a ghost has haunted a suit? From there, I found the writing to be nice and crisp, the characters to be complex, and the atmosphere to be quite creepy.

Jude is definitely a morally grey hero who has some skeleton in his closet, though he always tried to do right by the people closest to him. He’s not a good man, but he’s also sympathetic enough that I wanted to see him succeed. Same for Georgia, who fell into hard times and yet proved to be a tough lifeline for Jude when he needed it.

Most of the plot is dark and disturbing, and there were more than a few moments where I grimaced at the visceral imagery. That said, the plot moves at a good clip with enough downtime that nothing felt unbalanced. There are some truly terrifying moments, especially at the end, with a paranormal aspect that isn’t too outlandish for readers who might not want to venture far from realism.

While this is my first Joe Hill book, it won’t be the last, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a dark, supernatural thriller!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Has his father's talent!

Excellent book and narrator. PLEASE delete the bursts of weird shrill music between chapters though!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, great narration

First time listening to a Joe Hill Novel. Great one to start. Excellent narration. Looking forward to listening to more by the author.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved the narration!

Loved the narration!
They had me hooked by the premise.
Joe Hill is definitely on my favorites list.

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