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Horns

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

44 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

Is Evil Necessary?

The title of Joe Hill's second novel encapsulates the problem facing its main character - Horns. Ignatius "Ig" Perrish wakes up after a hard night of drinking brought on by the one-year anniversary of his girlfriend's murder. He may not have his memories, but he does ha...
The title of Joe Hill's second novel encapsulates the problem facing its main character - Horns. Ignatius "Ig" Perrish wakes up after a hard night of drinking brought on by the one-year anniversary of his girlfriend's murder. He may not have his memories, but he does have horns. Actual, bony protuberances. A trip to the hospital finds the horns aren't the only unusual thing about Ig.

He has the ability to make people around him disclose their innermost thoughts, sinful fantasies and confessions of past and planned crimes. If he touches someone, he sees their sinful pasts. If he thinks about it, he can make them act on their worst desires.

The first people Ig listens in on confirm one of his worst fears. Everyone believes he's guilty of murdering and raping his girlfriend, Merrin. Even his parents who just wish Ig would go away. His brother, who hosts a late-night talk show, falls under the horns' spell and tells Ig who really murdered Merrin. And all of this happens in the first fifth of the book.

In a typical horror novel, Ig would embark on a quest to rid himself of the horns and seek justice. But Hill isn't a typical horror writer. Instead of rejecting the evil of the horns, Ig embraces it, finding it second nature to encourage people to act out their desires. Ig isn't a hero in the conventional sense of the word.

It could be hard to root for him to succeed - usually a reader cheers for the characters fighting the devil - but traditional good and evil don't apply here. Hill doesn't take a black-and-white view of the world in Horns; it's grey streaked with darks and lights. Perhaps the question underlying the novel's events is whether evil is necessary.

Where Hill hits his stride is in the extended flashbacks to younger versions of the main characters. The novel becomes a coming-of-age story where teenagers do stupid teenage things that create bonds between them lasting well into adulthood. The allure of cherry bombs sets off a chain of events that introduces Ig to Lee, who becomes his best friend and the third player in the Ig-Merrin relationship.

Lee has his own issues to deal with as an adult, and the clich├ęs a lesser author might trot out never come to pass. The characters are complicated and fully realized. Even minor characters enter with a full history. The reader has the impression Hill knows all of his characters down to what brand of toothpaste they use. Hill's talented so he doesn't feel the need to put everything he knows down on the page. It's enough he knows and uses that knowledge to inform the choices the characters make.

The flashbacks can hold more attraction than the present-day pieces, but that may be because they tell the story of before Ig's life fell apart. As the horns become more important to who Ig is, the reader starts to look for signs Ig will find a way out, that good will prevail and innocence will take the day. These things happen . and they don't. Not all questions are answered by the last page. And the ones that are don't come with a nicely tied ribbon.

It's inevitable Horns will be compared with Hill's first novel, Heart-shaped Box. Whether one is better than the other is a matter of personal taste. The two novels are different, with Horns coming off as a little more fantastical and requiring a little more fantastical and requiring a little more suspension of disbelief. Regardless, Horns is an enjoyable read that leaves you anxious for another Joe Hill book.

posted by TDotts on February 16, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Horns

HORNS by Joe Hill is the story of Ig, who wakes up after a night of drinking with horns growing out of his head. He soon also learns that he also has the ability to get people to tell him their deep dark evil thoughts. Everybody has evil thoughts don't they. But the rea...
HORNS by Joe Hill is the story of Ig, who wakes up after a night of drinking with horns growing out of his head. He soon also learns that he also has the ability to get people to tell him their deep dark evil thoughts. Everybody has evil thoughts don't they. But the reason Ig drinks is that his one true love, Merrin was raped and murdered and he was the prime suspect. Although he was never convicted, the town still believes he did it and he is treated as such. And now with his newly acquired power, he is determined to find the person who killed his girlfriend and redeem himself. So is this a horror story or not? Although the whole devil thing is a little perverse, deep down I feel this is a story of love, angst and redemption.

posted by grumpydan on March 4, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2014

    What a let-down!

    I liked THE HEART SHAPED BOX, so I kept waiting for this book to get better, but it didn't. Not worth waisting time reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    Couldn't finish the book. Really a yawn!!

    The story was slow, and characters weren't well developed. I usually make myself finish a book once I've started it, but this one was not worth the time or effort!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2012

    Stellarlight

    *was tired of all this but went*

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2012

    Good Read

    This is an odd supernatural story that follows a few fragile twisted human characters and the devil. I enjoyed Joe Hill's book and his imagination to provide an excellent but slightly off centered entertaining read. Definitely recommend.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2010

    Ouch

    I just could not get into this book at all. I'm sorry to say, I feel it was a waste off my money and time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2010

    Not So Much

    Too dark, gothic and verbose - unsatisfactory ending

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 30, 2011

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    Posted January 30, 2010

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    Posted February 4, 2012

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    Posted August 7, 2014

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    Posted May 13, 2011

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