Horns – Joe Hill

Horns – Joe Hill

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. Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic. But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can 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 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. . . .

Joe Hill is a very talented writer, something that obviously runs in the family. You may have heard of his father; a man by the name of Stephen King. When you read Hill’s work you can easily pick out some resemblances between the two, but Hill has a voice all his own. Horns is a brilliant novel, that manages to be moving and disturbing, hopeful and tragic, and so very nostalgic for the days of misspent youth and first love. It is only Hill’s second novel, but he has already shown that he is a force to be reckoned with in the field of supernatural and horror fiction.

When you read the book jacket, it sounds as if Horns is to be a Faustian revenge plot mixed with a pulp-noir detective story, but what Hill has actually created is so much more than that. What makes Horns unique is that you find out whodunit in the first fifty pages, and the mystery of the story is not who did it, but why? Through Ig, Hill tears away the façade of humanity, showing the terrible evil that everyone hides somewhere inside.

Where the book breaks away from the pack, refusing to be just another cliché story where the character gains supernatural powers in order to right a terrible wrong, is in Hill’s masterful way of commanding the timeline of the story. As the book hops around from present to future, Hill is constantly throwing curveballs. As you start to love a character, they give you a reason to hate them. As you start to get a clear picture of how everything ties together, Hill muddies the water, leaving you grasping at straws, and rather than make the story infuriating, it is exhilarating.

Horns truly shines with the skill that Hill demonstrates in summoning memories and feelings of years long gone by. When Hill writes of being fifteen, falling in love, and making mischief, it felt as if I had gone back in time ten years, and I could remember every single feeling that he was writing about. Hill is as at home writing about first crushes and old friends, as he is when writing about betrayal, despair and murder. For those of you seeking not only a ripping good story, but also some blood, gore and terror, Horns does not disappoint. Hill uses everything from cherry bombs and rocks, to snakes and pitchforks as implements of violence, and he does it well. Not only that, but the brief insights into the thoughts of supporting characters are delightfully creepy, and at times profoundly disturbing, further cementing Hill’s place in horror.

Horns is the kind of novel that you stay up all night reading, and then when you finish it, you still can’t sleep. And it’s not because the story is so scary, but because it is so powerful that you cannot get it out of your head. Hill has combined the grotesque with the innocent, and when they are juxtaposed on the page, it is nothing short of remarkable. Pick it up, but be sure you have the time to finish it, you will not want to stop reading, and you will not be disappointed.

Joe Hill on Horns – Amazon.com Interview

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