Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Heart-Shaped Box: A New King?

Ok, let's just get it out on the table at the very beginning. Joe Hill is Stephen King's son and, like most little boys, he's trying on Daddy's shoes. Unlike most little boys, however, he finds himself with a really good fit. Aging rock star buys a ghost delivered in a heart-shaped box and promptly finds himself the vengeful spirit's target for death. With this no-punches-pulled beginning, the author spins out a suspensefully satisfying tale for his readers.

The Heart-Shaped Box has those classic King attributes: hard-core prose that goes poetic after the reader is hooked, improbable situation that just gets stranger as the pages turn, the buzzing of bees (where does that come from?), slightly ruined anti-hero that the reader can't give up on, wounds and bleeding and an unlikely heroine. It also introduces an author who not only dots his i's and crosses his t's but who also minds the swooping curls of his p's and q's.

Joe Hill is not a lazy writer who depends on deux ex machina for the salvation of his plot. Implausibe as the situation is, he carefully leads his reader to a logical ending, neatly tying up the frazzled ends even as he treats us to one final surprising twist. It's a good read.

For you young readers who have just discovered Stephen King and fret that he is in the twilight of his writing years, fear not. Another generation has taken up the pen and 'quits himself righteously.

The future is secure.

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