Sunday, May 4, 2008

Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill

Books that focus on the supernatural rarely attract me. Horror stories rarely attract me. Yet now and then I will find myself reading a book that fits in these categories and for some reason will like it.

Such is the case here. Jude Coyne, aqing heavy metal star, is living with "Georgia", a woman almost thirty years younger than he is. He calls her Georgia because that's where she's from. Her real name is Mary Beth. His insistence on giving meaningless names to his lovers is indicative of the distance he prefers to maintain in all relationships.

Jude is hard to shock. In fact, he collects bizarre objects as part of his efforts to build an impression of himself that matches his rock star image. And so it is that he is hooked when he reads of an online auction of a ghost. He jumps to the "buy it now" option, purchasing the suit the ghost comes in for $1,000.

What seemed a bit of a blast turns into a nightmare. The suit really does have a ghost attached, and that ghost is out to get him. Jude, though, is not so easily got. He resists one attack after another, gaining severe injuries in the process, and while he initially tries to send Mary Beth away - to protect her - she insists on hanging in and suffers greatly for that decision.

What kept me going was my attachment to Jude and Mary Beth, as they struggle not only to rid themselves of this evil presence but to discover in each other strengths they did not know they had.

I wouldn't say this book changed my life or changed my view of the world or a part of it, but it is strangely and unsentimentally heartwarming.