Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ghost For Sale, No Refunds/Exchanges

As I mentioned earlier, I stuck this book on my list for the R.I.P. II Challenge to up my list's spooky quotient. Well, it did. Wow, did it ever. I may not sleep for a week.


Heart-Shaped Box concerns Jude Coyne, a 54-year-old rock star with no music left in him. He's got plenty of money, a competent assistant to handle his business affairs, and a pretty Goth girl to warm his bed. He's also got a macabre collection of sinister items - a confession signed by a witch, a skull of a dead peasant, and other bizarre objects. So, when his assistant laughingly shows him a ghost for sale on an auction site, Jude can't resist. He buys it. When UPS delivers a heart-shaped box with a black suit inside, Jude's amused. According to the seller, the suit belonged to her recently deceased stepfather, and is haunted by his restless spirit. Jude thinks little of his new acquisition until strange things begin happening - the suit mysteriously leaps from its place in the closet; radios play when they're unplugged; the air is unnaturally cold; and, worst of all, Jude sees the dead man everywhere.


Jude, along with his current girlfriend Georgia (her name is actually Marybeth, but Jude is too callous to remember his girls' names, so calls them by their home state; his last girlfriend was Florida), do everything they can think of to rid themselves of the sinister ghost. Nothing works. The only beings capable of stopping the ghost seem to be Jude's dogs. By now, Jude has realized that he doesn't own a random ghost; in fact, he was tricked into buying the ghost of Florida's stepfather. The haunt blames Jude for Florida (real name: Anna)'s suicide, and he won't stop plaguing Jude until he's dead. Terrified, Jude and Marybeth take the dogs for protection and head to Florida, intent on making Anna's family help them destroy the ghost. Instead, they are confronted with the terrible secrets Anna was forced to keep. Finally, the pair head for Louisiana, where Jude's own tortured past awaits. In a bloody showdown, Jude and Marybeth finally face the sinister ghost in a last, desperate attempt to rid the world of his evil presence.


Okay, I love ghost stories, but this one was bloody, crude and full of profanity. I should have put it down immediately, but I was so drawn into the story that I couldn't stop reading. It was absolutely absorbing. The action started almost immediately and didn't let up until the last page. I thought the idea of buying a ghost was inventive, although the rest of the story was somewhat standard horror fare. Still, I couldn't stop turning pages. The novel's most redeeming quality is that, at its heart, it's about a man searching for goodness within himself. Jude's life has been so crammed with filth that it takes an evil ghost to make him fight for the few precious things in it. Like I said, it's a horrifying, mesmerizing story, but you won't be able to put it down. If you're a Stephen King fan, you will probably love this tale penned by his son.

6 comments:

  1. Hmmm...I am or was years ago a big Stephen King fan (college days scaring myself with "Salem's Lot". I think I have this book around here somewhere. I'll have to hunt it up since we are moving toward the spooky time of year. Thanks for the review!

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  2. I loved this book! Especially the ending. :)

    On the other hand, I felt the main character got what he deserved after the way he treated women. Hmph.

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  3. ah hah! so this is the real reason you couldn't sleep last night - blamin' blood sugar was a good try, though :)

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  4. a;lsda;lsdk YES. I am glad someone else found this book so addicting. I picked it up, meaning to read a few chapters before bed and then totally stayed up late to finish it all in one sitting. It was such a clever idea, although I found some of the revelations bordering on the edge of cliche toward the end, but I think I got what he was trying to go for.

    I was still full of hearts for it, though, and am excited for Hill's next novel. :D

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  5. I've never been a fan of horror stories, but this challenge is quickly changing that. I like the premise of this story, but may pass it by. I already have so many new additions to the list thanks to this challenge. Great review though.

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  6. Someone else recommended this on the RIP challenge (Chris at Sutff as Dreams...). Will have to check it out I think and I didn'e know it was by Stephen King's son, random.

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