Okay, so everyone else has pretty much adored Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box, and I think the book is doing well enough that he won't be shattered if he gets one mediocre review. Alas, I fear that mediocre review must come from me.
I really loved Sieur Hill's short story compilation, Twentieth Century Ghosts. The stories contained therein were genuinely disturbing, horrific, and hard to forget. When I heard he had a novel coming out, I was pretty excited. It's hard to find good horror, I think. It's not a genre that I am super familiar with, but I do enjoy a good horror novel, but it seems to me that the mainstream horror bookshelves are not overloaded with really excellent stuff. Initial word of mouth on Heart Shaped Box was pretty strong, and I picked up a copy as soon it hit the stores.
The premise was promising: a heavy metal musician with exotic taste in women and collectibles buys a ghost over the internet (not from Ebay, but from some lesser auction site). Alas, the ghost proves to be a bit hard to handle, and quickly gets a little bit too personal in his haunting. Rock star, groupie girlfriend and two dogs end up in a duel to--not the death, but something worse.
But somehow the promising premise just didn't hit me where I live. I'm not sure why exactly--to go into details would be to give away too much of the plot, which I don't want to do here. Others loved it, so perhaps I'm just not attuned to that type of horror, but the various elements that were trotted out as horrific--even mixed with supernatural stuff--are, alas, too common in today's world--open any newspaper and you read the life-stories of most of Hill's characters on page 1. The banality of evil.
So maybe the problem is not me, or Joe Hill, perhaps the problem is today's world. You have to go further out on a limb if you want your horror to be rooted in reality. We are too jaded--I'm too jaded.
Perhaps you are not so jaded, in which case you'll probably like A Heart Shaped Box. I fear it's too late for me.