Saturday, May 5, 2012

Review: Horns by Joe Hill

Title: Horns
Author: Joe Hill
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Publisher: William Morrow
Date Published:: March 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Horror
Source: Library

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and 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 was 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. Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look--a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge. . . . It's time the devil had his due. . . .

My Review
What an interesting and compelling story! I admit that the only reason I picked this book up in the first place is because I found out that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son. I adore King's book with a fiery passion so I just had to see if the apple fell anywhere near the tree and I believe that in this case, Joe certainly succeeds in a genre dominated by his daddy. He manages to make something that could get cliche and pretentious "the devil inside" and makes it into something hilarious, dark, and kind of cool.

For me, one of the worst feelings is waking up after a night of wild partying and probably too much drinking and realizing that you don't remember half of your night. The narrator of this story, poor Iggy Perrish has one of these "oh shit" moments when he looks at himself in the mirror after getting piss drunk the night before. But not only does he feel like he's done something terrible...the proof is right in front of him in the form of two devil horns! (Totally shweet!) Now all of the sudden, people are telling him things. Horrible, yet truthful things...things like banging the next door neighbor when the hubby isn't home, or wanting desperately to suffocate one's children in the middle of the night and run off with the bartender next door. Ig has no clue why people are telling him this, but he makes it his business to put this power to use and discover just what happened to the love of his life when she was murdered the year before. 

The novel is very well plotted out and moves at the same pace the entire time.  I could have used a few less flashbacks, or at least a little more action in between the flashbacks, but I understand why they were there and what they were supposed to do in the story. There is a steady pacing, but I felt like it could have used a bit more push to get through some of the descriptive chapters. It's not like I lost interest or anything, but it definitely didn't keep me riveted and gripping the book so hard my knuckles turned white. However, I really had no idea that it would end the way it did so I think that Hill did a great job at hinting and leading the mystery around. You are never really sure what's happening and where the book is going, but I think that is part of the fun and bizarre nature of this book. 

Joe's writing style was a very fun one. It has all of the unabashed, kind of depraved, dark humor that his father has, without all of Kings rambling nonsensical prose. Sometimes I will admit that I have to give King a rest because I just can't take the nonsense anymore. Hill takes a lot from his dad, whether it's from growing up in the King household or just a nod to his father, such as the complete debasement of religion and religious figures while at the same time revering religion and god. Iggy peed on the virgin Mary for christsakes, and then goes on to comment on her "idiot-savant" smile...definitely not very flattering to the holy mother...but at the same time the book is a smart analysis about the nature of man, and the ideas behind truth, love, and religion itself. 

I loved that Hill seems to dive down deep and expose the layers of all of his characters. Horns is a testamant to the evil that lurks within every human and whether or not it's best to be the devil or one of the damned. Seriously...the confessions of some of the characters had my skin crawling and I think that is what truly scared me about the novel. It's scary to think that you could be living beside someone and think you know what they believe, how they think....but then if you got a good look into their soul would it say what you believe it would? Probably not...Maybe your boyfriend secretly wants to take the lawnmower you keep nagging about and run over your face with it. Maybe your mom wishes you were never born so she could have kept sleeping with all the men in never know. This kind of stuff really hits you when you're reading the book because it could be happening all around you and you would never even know it. 

I give Horns 4 out of 5 Keys! It was an entertaining and provocative read, but at the same time it has that dry and caustic undertone that tends to have me leaning towards Young Adult novels rather than Adult. There's just something so dry about some adult books that, so even though they are entertaining, they don't keep you reading late into the night just to finish the book. I think fans of King, or horror in general will really get a kick out of Horns. Those who are squeamish around defiling religious artifacts or talking about brutal, violent, rape will want to stay away, but for those of you who can get past the vulgar, there is a lot of depth and humanity behind this book that I think is definitely worth checking out. 


  1. Same here, I just found out Joe is Stephen King's son [I'm reading that anthology based on I Am Legend] - so like father like son lol

  2. SO cool! I didn't know this and now I totally want to check this out since I am a huge SK fan! Thanks so much for calling my attention to this, Andra.