A bi-product of my addiction to horror is an impressive (if I do say so myself) knowledge of scariness in media. With that in mind, I have a good (I think) Halloween recommendation for a book. I think I’ll talk about it now.
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill is not new. It’s also not old; it’s at that awkward “few years” where it’s not cool to read it and it isn’t classic. It was published in 2007 when Joe was still relatively unknown. Though he did his darnedest to conceal it, folks eventually figured out that Joe is Stephen King’s son. His style is his own (Joe is more gritty and bloody than Stephen.), but he can develop a character like dear old dad.
Heart-Shaped Box made waves, but it wasn’t like Harry Potter the Vampire Dater or anything. That said, horror folks read it and loved it. It’s good for Halloween because it’s a classic ghost story the way Jaws is a classic monster movie: you know (generally) what’s next and you know how the story will go – but the scares, fun, and horror are in the descriptions, actions, and reactions of the characters.
No spoilers here, but a quick synopsis:
Judas Coyne is a rock star (legend even) years after the glory days have passed. He lives a quiet life with his dogs and his 20-years-his-junior girlfriend. His days are spent puttering around and collecting occult “stuff.” He’s got snuff films (which he is disgusted by), he’s got some voodoo stuff, and what-have-you. But, one day, an ad online for a ghost for sale catches his attention. He buys the ghost – in the form of a “haunted” suit – and shenanigans.
Why is this the book I recommend? Because the writing is freaking awesome. Judas, Georgia (his girlfriend), his dogs, and the ghost(s) are brilliantly portrayed, so you know them well and can see them when Joe Hill puts them in the most awful, scary, and f-ed up situations you could expect. Because the characters are awesome, you see the crap they see. You feel the stuff they feel . . . and it’s awesome. And, because it’s a ghost story, it’s creepy. And, creeped out is the feeling you want on Halloween when you’re reading a ghost story. An easy win.
Read the book. (I don’t care if it’s old.)