Horns by Joe Hill

26 Apr

 

Ig Perrish is having a rough go of it.

After a night of drinking, he wakes up hung over and not entirely sure what he got up to the night before. Added to that, he has two small horns growing out of his head.

He knows that they weren’t there before, that they are a new edition to his body. He also quickly finds out that they influence others around him. The horns force others around him to tell him what they’re thinking.

Exactly what they’re thinking.

Those close to him begin to share their innermost secrets. The “I can’t believe you just said that” kind of secrets. Secrets and thoughts about a past that haunts all of them.

Years ago, Ig was accused of the rape and murder of the one woman he loved, the one woman who was his heart. Though he maintains his innocence, he finds out what his family and friends really think.

Everyone believes that he did it. Everyone thinks he killed her.

With his newfound talent, Ig decides to take the only course of action left to him. He decides to find out who really killed the one woman he loved.

And then take out his revenge…

I love Joe Hill. Rather, I love his writing. His first novel, Heart Shaped Box, was one of the creepiest, scariest novels I have read in years. His collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts, was one of the most amazing collections of short fiction I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

I wasn’t sure about Horns at first. Second novels have a tendency to be lacklustre and usually don’t live up to the sacred gem of the first novel, especially one as widely heralded as Heart Shaped Box.

Before opening the book, I wondered if Horns would be a one trick wonder. I mean, how can you make a novel out of someone who can force you to share your inner most thoughts? It would get boring and repetitive after a while, right?

What I didn’t take into account was that Horns is a book by Joe Hill, an author who isn’t afraid to take the story one way and then veer off in a completely different, and sometimes shocking, direction.

Though the main story of the novel is Ig trying to find his revenge, the rest of the novel is told in flashbacks that are beautifully, incredibly written. The flashbacks are very emotionally charged. When Ig first meets Merrin, when he learns about love. When he gets his hear broken. The emotion on these pages is tangible.

I was also surprised by how funny the novel was. And I mean laugh out loud funny. Hill has an incredible ear for dialogue and he’s in top form here, giving us shocks, thrills and chills along the way. By the time the first half of the book is over, the people in Horns have stopped being characters on paper; they are real people.

Though the novel dragged a little in the middle (like most good novels do) he picks everything up again and steers us towards what is surely one of the best showdowns in modern fiction history.

Not only has Hill given us an incredible horror story. He’s also written a parable on love, life and, ultimately, the pursuit of happiness.

An incredible read from start to finish, Horns is one literary treat you’ll want to sink your horns, er, teeth into.

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