A bloody fantastic ghost story.
Jude Coyne, an aging front man to a once popular heavy-metal band, is riding out his life and solo career in peaceful fashion. At 54, he works on his music in his home studio on a farm in upstate New York. He collects dark and twisted trinkets and young, goth girlfriends. He is ignoring the several metaphorical demons that eat at him.
When his personal assistant brings an odd 'ghost for sale' listing to his attention on a little known auction site, Jude doesn't even hesitate, doesn't think, doesn't ponder, he just buys. When the ghost arrives, an old suit packed in a heart shaped box, Jude is forced to face things once past.
This book is gritty, like heavy metal gritty. It's graphic. It's chilling. It's absolutely heartbreaking. It has soul. It has music.
"Horror was rooted in sympathy . . . in understanding what it would be like to suffer the worst."
I love that thought. Loved it when I read it on the page and still days later, it's what really sticks with me about this book. True terror comes from reality. This book is a symphony of real life horror coupled with wild imaginings in the darkest of night.
Jude's girlfriend, Georgia, is my favorite - she's irreverent and crass with a vulnerability that made me love her. She and Jude look for desperate answers, running away from a ghost hell-bent on their deaths and I just sat on the edge of my seat hoping that I'd get some sort of happily ever after. And isn't that sort of an unreasonable desire in a horror book? Still, I wanted it, badly.
It's hardest for me to write about books that I love. The problem is three-fold, one part taming of the overactive squee drive, one part unwillingness to spoil the discovery for anyone else, and one part wrench and pull to find the things that resonate with me most and put them in words. Heart-Shaped Box hit all the right notes for me. I think I'm just going to have to leave it at this - I loved it, I couldn't read it fast enough, and I finished it with a satisfying sigh.