Monday, July 25, 2011


Title/Author: Horns by Joe Hill.

Genre: Horror/Supernatural.

Publisher: Harper.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Terry.

All in all: Solid, creepy, tragic story.

Synopsis: Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a pair of horns growing from his temples.

At first, Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who had been raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once, the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed. But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. Nothing Ig can do or say matters. Everyone it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone that is, but the devil inside. . . .

Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. It's time for a little revenge . . . it's time the devil had his due . . .

My Thoughts: Wow. I mean…Wow.

I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved. This story is just remarkable. All the twists and turns, the metaphors and symbols, the dread and foreshadowing, characters and motives. It is rich and deep and thoughtful, but not so much as to be confusing. It was a pleasure for me to read and become involved in the lives of Ig, Lee, Terry and Merrin. Right away I was drawn in by Ig, his plight and his frustration. One tragic event took all his happiness and his future away from him and he became a different person, an unlikeable person, a pariah, ostracized.

And this is before he grew horns.

The horns just drove it home. The powers he gets with them are not always controllable and in a way make him vulnerable. His discoveries into the minds of people around him, especially people he loves is poignant and to watch him struggle with their suspicions and their own demons is painful.

The secrets intrigued me and when a clue is hinted at or revealed, I felt like I had fit a puzzle piece into the picture. Elements of the truth are swirling around and then as you read, you’re finally grasping them. I loved how everything came back around, something mentioned at the beginning or along the way suddenly had meaning.

My favorite symbolism are the horns themselves. Ig’s father and brother are musicians. Horn players. Ig could never play because of his asthma. I found it ironic that he grew horns instead. I also loved the metaphor of the Treehouse. The events surrounding that treehouse are eerie and reading about their experiences regarding it gives meaning to the term someone walking on my grave. It reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. I liked the theological symbolism too. The crosses. Good and evil. Who is who? What is what? What does evil really mean? Other recurring themes I found intriguing were water and fire. Did anyone else who read this notice that?

I thought the characters were complex and believable. I wanted to know their motives and thoughts and Hill delivers. 

I thought it interesting that Merrin is a character the reader never meets. She is seen through everyone else’s eyes. This gives her, in a way, a status that is not quite real and fits with the symbolism. Is she a sinner or Saint? Is she perfect or simply human? What was she thinking when she sent Ig Morse Code or texted Lee (her and Ig’s friend) or confided in him?

***SPOILER ALERT-Please highlight to read: What I really didn’t like is that the bad guy died at the end. That was too good for him. I wanted him to be found out for who he was and for Ig to be vindicated. I am also disappointed with Merrin's choice. Yes, her sister succumbed to cancer and she was diagnosed. But the medical industry makes strides and progress every year and just because her sister passed away from the disease, didn’t mean that Merrin necessarily would. I know that this was Merrin’s decision and it is extremely personal. She didn't want to go through what her sister did and didn't want her family to suffer. But it just made me sad. I also understand that if she behaved that way, there would be no story. I had also kind of thought that maybe Ig would come across one person who would be kind to him and be good and pure even under the influence of his Horns. I bet this person is Merrin. :END SPOILER ALERT***

The writing is also excellent.  I visualized the settings, the events and related to the character's feelings.  I think Hill uses amazing vocabulary without being pretentious.  It flowed naturally for me. 

If you like theological questions, thrillers, mysteries, scary stories or just well written stories, I encourage you to check out Horns.  



Unknown said...

I've got this on my wish list after being impressed by Heart-Shaped Box. I've also gotten a kick out of his graphic novel stuff with Locke and Key. Nice review, only makes me want to read it more.

Logan E. Turner said...

Wow. Very, very cool. This sounds awesome!

Missie, The Unread Reader said...

It almost seems like the Be careful of what you wish for concept was used here with the growing of horns instead of being able to play a horn. LOL

And I love writing that helps create the setting instead of feeling like it's trying to hard.

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

Joe Hill's talent confirms what I've long believed, that pure genius just flows through the veins of Stephen King! I don't know if you've had a chance to read other books by Joe Hill, but he's just brilliant! I especially love his collection of stories in 20th Century Ghost. Heart-Shaped Box is slightly less awesome than Horns, but still awesome! Hmm, think I used enough exclamation points?

James Garcia Jr said...

This sounds like something that I would love to read. It sounds fresh and different. Thanks for the tip!


Jen | Book Den said...

I really need to read this one. Great to hear you loved it!

Danielle Zappavigna said...

I'm really interested to read this, mostly it's just being curious about how he compares to his dad! Great review, you've convinced me I should read it. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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