An unusual take on the ghost story, where a successful rock star buys a ghost to add to his bizarre collection of occult and disturbing items. The ghost comes in a funereal suit packed in a heart shaped box. A great start to this debut novel by Joe Hill.
This is a detailed and absorbing story with moments of horror, intense spookiness and a bit of suspense. The protagonist is the stereotypical rock star with his penchant for young vulnerable girls, the cliched stripper and groupie, but these characters are portrayed sympathetically if a little two dimensional. But that is part of the plan.
The theme of love as a force runs throughout the book. Another heart-shaped box (this time as a box of chocolates) represents his father's love for his mother, if a little unimaginative as a gift every year. The depth of love is tested against the power of evil and ultimately the success of the fight rests on this.
The writing is tight, clear and keeps to the plot without repetition or going off on a tangent. There are creative and vibrant paranormal scenes and these are not overdone therefore making them more effective. The descriptive scenes are concise and well drawn. An original take on the ghost story.
The pace sometimes wanes in places but generally it flows well and I was always keen to turn the page. The ending is neatly tied up with nothing left undone. Hill is a master storyteller with a vivid imagination.
Published on 1 February 2007.
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