Heart-Shaped Box (novel)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A 2007 horror novel by Joe Hill.

Semi-retired rockstar Judas Coyne likes to compliment his dark and edgy persona with a collection of strange and macabre items, most donated by his fans. These include things like a witch's confession, a used hangman's noose, and a genuine Snuff Film (which he only saw once, then locked away forever). One day, he is sent an email directing his attention to the online auction of a dead man's suit, evidently still haunted by the dead man's ghost.

Jude doesn't even think twice before buying it.

Soon enough, the suit is delivered to his place in a heart-shaped box. And what do you know... the ghost reveals himself to be real! Except the dead man, Craddock McDermott, a hypnotist and occultist in life, doesn't like Jude one bit. It turns out Jude unknowingly has a connection with the dead man, and the real ghosts of his past are about to come back with a vengence.

Tropes used in Heart-Shaped Box (novel) include:
  • Abusive Parents
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Craddock has sinister black shapes covering his eyes, looking like someone marked them out with a pencil. Slightly subverted when Florida reveals it's the only way for ghosts to see the world of the living without being blinded, like Jude is when he sees Heaven.
  • Collector of the Strange
  • Complete Monster: It doesn't take long to realize this totally describes Craddock, even while he was still alive.
  • Cool Car
  • Dead Little Sister: Florida, Jude's ex, was Craddock's stepdaughter.
    • Subverted in that Craddock killed her, but blames Jude for making her realize just what a horrible monster he was, and for giving her a way to resist his mental powers through music.
  • Deep South: Birthplace of most of the characters, and the location of most of Jude and Georgia's haunted road trip pursued by Craddock.
  • Distracted From Death: Angus dies on the backseat of Jude's car without Jude noticing at first, with only a few minutes passing between the last time he saw Angus alive and when he realizes the dog finally died.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: One of Craddock's favorite methods of communication, talking through televisions, radios, an electrolarynx, etc.
  • Driven to Suicide
  • EBay: Jude buys the dead man's suit from a knockoff site.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Jude's two dogs, Angus and Bon, can detect Craddock's presence, and protect him and Georgia for most of the story. That is, until Craddock eventually kills both of them.
  • Fingore: A recurring motif, starting when Jude's abusive father broke his fingers.
  • Ghostly Goals: Type B.
  • Hell Is That Noise
  • Jerkass: Jude, especially towards Georgia.
  • Magic Music
  • The Nicknamer: Jude nicknames all of his girlfriends after their state of origin. He briefly freaks out when it's revealed that Georgia's grandmother's nickname, Bammy, is short for "Alabama".
  • Our Ghosts Are Different
  • Secret Keeper: Jude kept the secret about one of his bandmate's homosexuality well after the latter's death.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Jude is a veteran rocker, but hasn't actually played with his band in a long time.
  • Shout-Out: Lots of shout outs to Rock and Roll, including the title.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: A vision of the past reveals Craddock to have been one, using his powers to fuck with a POW's head.
  • Stage Name: Judas Coyne. His real name is Justin.
  • Uncanny Valley