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Heart-Shaped Box

Written by: Joe Hill
Narrated by: Stephen Lang
Length: 11 hrs and 3 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (41 ratings)

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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)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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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.

2 of 2 people found this review 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

But why?

The story was excellent but the music ruined the ambience. But everything else was amazing.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Like father like son

If you're a fan of Stephen King's work Heart-Shaped Box is a must read. Joe Hill's writing blew me away considering this is the first time I've had the privilege to read/ listen to his work. One gripe I have with the audiobook is the industrial sounding music that plays between chapters seems incredibly out of place. Other than that Heart-Shaped Box is a great thriller and character study with lots of twists and turns.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great story well told be mr Lang but annoying musi

great story well read by mr Stephen Lang but annoying music between chapters was necessarily.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Definitely Recommended

Excellent story with a great pace that keeps you (the listener) wanting more! A must listen for fans of the genre.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic and wonderfully creepy!

Didn’t like the music that was played. Was nasty and jarring. But liked the reader very much.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

spooky

I'm not usually into scary stories as I scary easily lol but this was one I finished fast because I needed to know what happened next. well written and just a warning it can be a bit vulgar. #Audible1

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lesley
  • 2007-02-23

Yikes! Five stars for fright

I bought this book for the concept: a dead man's suit that comes with a ghost. I figured it would be good and scary, and I wasn't wrong.

I read a lot of stories that I think are going to be scary, but then I'm disappointed when it turns out the monster really isn't much of a monster. But parts of Heart-Shaped Box scared me so much I could barely listen, even in a brightly-lit health club with dozens of other people there.

I won't describe any of those sections for fear of spoiling other readers' fun. Let's just say that some stuff happens that scares even the main character--a guy who owns a cookbook for cannibals.

Although this book is frightening, and a thriller, the writing doesn't suffer. All the characters had fully realized story arcs, even some of the minor ones who turned out later to be more important than they seemed at first.

I particularly liked the main character, Judas Coyne. Even though he has apparently been mean to others through some of his life, I found him fairly easy to sympathize with through most of the action. By the end of the book he'd won me over--I was cheering for his side all the way.

The production of the audiobook itself was good, too. The narrator did a fine job, even with voices for female characters, which is often hard for a guy. Between sections, there are a couple of musical breaks--the first one startled me, but only because I wasn't expecting it.

I definitely recommend this one for people who don't mind a good scare. I hope Joe Hill has some more on the way.

200 of 205 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Laura
  • 2012-05-10

Wonderful!

I can't remember when I have enjoyed a book as well as this one. The story is one that has left me with chills and the characters are not only entertaining but realistic. The reader is just outstanding and really pulls the listener into the story. I loved this book, would highly recommend.

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Patricia
  • 2007-11-30

Disturbing

Intricately written and extremely descriptive, this story leaves you wondering who the real victims/villains are...the roles are not clearly defined and each character crosses back and forth across the line of decency. Yet, it becomes fairly evident 'who's the evilest one of all' as the book progresses...but then what?

This book was clearly written by someone who knows his way around character development. My main criticism is that the reader was tediously slow in his reading and could have done more to act out the characters. I had to put my IPOD speed to "faster" just so I wouldn't give up because of the slow pace. Not sure if this was all the fault of the reader, but most of it probably was. It's well worth listening to, but at times will give you an uneasy feeling, so I'm not sure that I would put this book in my top 5 favs.

59 of 62 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jonathan
  • 2009-11-10

A well-crafted thriller

I agree with those who have compared this book favorably with Stephen King's work. Hill does an excellent job of creating fully fleshed-out characters and a viscerally chilling narrative, using a very accessible prose. I didn't love the ending, and I thought the paranormal stuff verged on silly at times, but it's still a very entertaining read. Solid narration by Mr. Lang, too.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • 2014-10-07

Nightmare in a suit

I could not put this one down. As good as NOS4A2 just not as freaky/creepy. This was a crazy, paranormal, mystery served with a little romance on the side. Joe Hill is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors because of his ability to keep a good steady pace along with original stories in each of his books.

Jude is a rock star that loves to collect macabre objects until one day when he purchases a Heart Shaped Box that sends his whole life into a tailspin. Unfortunately everyone in his life is drawn into his treacherous paranormal, nightmare that may just suck them all down the death road. Great, sinister, October read with believable characters and top notch narration.

30 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-10-06

Wtf is up with the crappy techno music between chapters?!

This isn’t my favorite Joe Hill book, but it’s pretty good. However there is this generic techno miso that intermittently pops up between some chapters. It is jarring and out of place. It really takes you out of the story, and makes the whole thing feel cheesy.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amanda H.
  • 2011-08-14

Spooky, Creepy, and Smart!

One word comes to mind after listening to Heart-Shaped Box.....TALENT! The book was extremely spooky and creepy. The characters are well written with depth. Had a hard time pausing the book, I did not want to leave the story or characters.

32 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • James Hargett
  • 2018-06-22

Hard to enjoy

Good narration but the content was difficult to enjoy because of zero likeable or relateable characters.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Elaine Edwards
  • 2018-08-26

Started good then got a little boring

I feel like I’m reading a wanna be King novel. Granted it’s his son’s book but I was hoping he’d do his own thing. The performance was excellent. I liked the narration. Half way through the book I got bored....okay he’s fighting with the dead guy....and he’s still fighting with the dead guy....and why do I care again? I finished it just to see if a giant alien spider would get rid of the dead guy.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 2014-08-17

Original Storyline Saves This Novel

This book is not bad. The story needs to progress more quickly and more smoothly in some places, and possibly throughout. However, it is becoming more difficult to find horror stories that have truly original storylines, and Joe Hill does achieve that in The Heart Shaped Box. Also, the book has strong and frequent moments of suspense, which helped to keep my attention. Stephen Lang is a favorite narrator of mine, and whoever chose him for this novel, did so wisely.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful